The Benefits of the Legalization of Marijuana
Statistics show that 95, 000 individuals die annually, including 27, 000 women and 68, 000 women. These individuals did not die due to marijuana use but rather from a drug that is much more accessible nationally; alcohol. The consumption of marijuana has always carried a hostile and unfair stigma. Marijuana has been deemed a ‘getaway drug’ for some years now. The drug has also been at the center of media attention following its legalization. As more states legalize marijuana, there seems to be growing debate as to its regular availability. Ever since marijuana was approved for recreational use ten years ago, politicians have kept pushing for rejections of its national legalization. However, the stigma associated with its use has not transformed much since the notion of recreation use was first introduced. However, as more studies are conducted, the more it gets normalized and individuals with negative viewpoints will begin to see its benefits. As the drug continues to be legalized, society will begin to experience its benefits first-hand and eventually do away with the negative stigma that comes with its use. This essay delves into the benefits of the legalization of marijuana.
Across the United States, the use of marijuana is prohibited at the federal level. This is despite several states passing laws that allow for its recreational and medical use. As of May 2002, the use of medical cannabis products is legal in 37 states, while 18 other states permit its use for non-medical products and personal consumption (Axisa, 13). States continue to propose new laws that encourage legal activity. Worth noting, the 2020 presidential elections that took place in November took the attention of cannabis legalization. Several important decisions were made at the polls where numerous states voted for the determination of the future of the legal marijuana industry in one form or another. Several states, including New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota, and Arizona borrowed a leaf from Washington’s or Colorado’s book to legalize marijuana consumption for recreational purposes. Since then, state legalization on the matter remains heavily divided. After the November elections, Judge Christina Klinger, a South Dakota Judge, ruled the measure unconstitutional. South Dakota’s Supreme Court ruled against the legalization of marijuana while Arizona in contrast collected over $284 in tax revenue from its legalization. The economic benefits of legalizing marijuana outweigh the disadvantages as evidenced in the move of the first states to change positions.
Income and Improved Job Opportunities
One of the benefits of the legalization of marijuana is that it creates more job opportunities for people because it pumps more money into the economy. In 2019 alone, the United States recorded up to $12.2 billion in annual sales (Bradford and David, 75). At the time, only 11 states had legalized recreational use of marijuana. Since 2019, four more states have made the move to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. As the years go by, more states are decriminalizing marijuana, enabling states and the country to make money. For instance, in Massachusetts alone, cannabis retailers report gross sales of up to $393 million. Notably, customers spent $2.2 million within the first five days of marijuana legalization alone. In Nevada, it is anticipated that up to 41, 000 additional jobs will be available by 2024. This is expected to bring up to $1.7 billion dollars in income which is estimated at around $42, 500 annually. However, the national legalization of marijuana would translate into about 1 million jobs by the end of 2025. The jobs created would be in the production process of cannabis that goes into its production including cultivation, distribution, and sales. These jobs would boost not only the economy but also ignite an untapped field of study for the workforce and education.
Elimination of the Black Market
Another benefit of legalizing marijuana is that it helps eliminate the black market of marijuana sales. According to a survey done by the Colorado Consumers Coalition, people will still find other illicit means of buying marijuana even though it is illegal (Collingwood, Ben, and Sarah, 3). The marijuana black market remains as popular as ever, and even with increased legalization, the number of consumers purchasing through illegal means will also increase. The same study found that consuming marijuana the legal way is 40% more expensive than purchasing it off the black market. This is an indication that consumers would rather buy it the old-fashioned way on the black market than using legal means and this has a lot to do with the negative stigma associated with its use.
The third benefit of the legalization of marijuana has to do with increased tax revenue. Washington and Colorado have recorded better sales than anticipated in regard to the buoyant tax revenues. Washington collected $559.5 million is legal revenue from marijuana in 2021, which is $85 million more than the previous year. Colorado collected over 423 million in marijuana tax revenue in 2021, a 10% increase from the previous year. The total tax revenue collected from all states in 2019 was $1.7 billion. The total revenue has more than doubled in the last two years. The aggregate revenue for states that have permitted marijuana use got t the $3.7 billion mark for adult-use sales. This is excluding the revenue that is generated for towns, cities, and statewide budgets. Additionally, the figure also excluded six states who had decriminalized its use and had not begun collecting tax revenue for 2021. A study by New Frontier cannabis analytics shows that by 2025, legal marijuana can generate an extra $105.6 billion in federal tax.
Increased Investment Opportunities
Another benefit of the legalization of marijuana is better investment opportunities. The legalization of marijuana comes with a possibility of immense benefits for local and national economies. Decriminalizing marijuana use could be useful in securing investors from various areas of the country. While cannabis use remains illegal at federal levels, investors find it difficult to build on the growth taking place in the industry. The number of companies relating to marijuana that are trading on public stock exchanges is little, and while investors have an option of using over-the-counter exchanges, many successful businesses in the early cannabis spaces base their operations in Canada and other countries (Fasesan, 165). If marijuana was to become legalized on a national level, companies would have the freedom to list stocks in United States exchanges hence building liquidity and paving the way for more investors. If the growth rate of the marijuana space keeps up at the same pace as in the recent years, there is a possibility that investors will develop an interest in the industry.
Minimizes the Side Effects of Other Illnesses
Another benefit of medical marijuana is that it reduces the side effect of other illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS. These chronic illnesses are destructive on the body and have side effects such as extremely low appetite and headaches. However, medical professionals discovered that THC-based drugs tend to have the same effect as other plant-based medications. THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis has been found to stimulate receptors responsible for controlling appetite (Settas, 22). Specifically, THC stimulates the CB1 receptor which is affected by such harsh diseases and does not function well. The medications based on THC stimulate the CB1 receptors in patients igniting them to their normal eating habits.
Saves on Money
Another benefit of the legalization of marijuana is that it helps in saving money. Considering the monetary benefits of decriminalizing marijuana, it is critical to think of how much money might be saved and the revenue that can be generated in the process. As of now, the enforcement of marijuana costs the federal government numerous billion dollars annually. An American Civil Liberties Union 2013 study estimates the costs to be about $3.6 billion annually. As more states continue legalizing marijuana, the costs of enforcement are more likely to reduce (Grech, 46). If marijuana were made legal on a national level, the costs would even drop more considerably. Additionally, if marijuana was no longer considered a controlled substance, there would be fewer cases pertaining to the substance going to trial leading to fewer incarcerations and by extension, more money would be saved. Legal marijuana would also benefit the medical consumer of marijuana-based products. This is because as more states continue to legalize marijuana, its price is likely to reduce overall because of commoditization. While this might not seem as good news immediately, people consuming cannabis-based products are likely to benefit from the lower prices.
Benefits Patients Suffering From Brain Dysfunctions
Another benefit of the legalization of marijuana is that it benefits patients battling chronic brain dysfunctions. Marijuana has been known to improve the condition of Alzheimer’s disease. In small doses, THC consumption slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, giving the patient more time (Homel, and Rick 20). Marijuana has been known to impede beta-amyloid, which has been commonly thought to trigger the illness. While marijuana has not been proven to boost memory that is already affected by the illness, it plays a critical role in regressing the illness. Marijuana decreases beta-amyloid concentration and curtails the inflammation of the brain. These benefits people presenting with the Alzheimer’s disease as it gives doctors and researchers time to find a potential cure for something different that can help.
Benefits Patients with Health Complications
Another benefit of the legalization of marijuana is that it is beneficial to patients that have health complications. Medical marijuana is used to manage pain in health complications such as arthritis, migraines and fibromyalgia (Hall et al., 1580). It functions through cannabinoids that adjust the pain pathways in the brain. This produces a feeling of euphoria and not pain and this is due to the nerves that sense pain. The nerves contain high cannabinoid receptors. As the patient ingests cannabinoids, they plant themselves on receptors so as to initiate the feeling of relief. It was also shown in a study carried out in 1981 that when cannabis is used as a low-dosage opiate, it relieves pain effectively. However, using opiates in current studies is not a long-term solution.
Beneficial to Victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Another benefit of the legalization of marijuana is that it has proved beneficial to patients presenting with PTSD. PTSD pushes its victims to results to strategies such as anxiety or panic attacks or having visions about the traumatic incident as a way of relieving the trauma. Marijuana helps such patients through stimulating CB1 receptor cells and the endocannabinoid system located in their brains. The Endocannabinoid system controls bodily functions such as memory, stress, mood, and pain. Through stimulating the system and CBI receptor, it enables individuals to cope with trauma in a positive way.
In closing, the legalization of marijuana for recreational use has a plethora of benefits for users and even the nation. Legalizing marijuana creates job opportunities, eliminates the black market, increases taxes, and brings more opportunities of opportunities. Additionally, legalizing marijuana helps save money and manage chronic illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, arthritis, PTSD, and brain dysfunctions like Alzheimer’s. While there are also downsides that come with legalizing marijuana, it goes without saying that its benefits outweigh the disadvantages. This topic of legalization is faced with backlash from minds that do not believe in its legalization. Moving forward, it is key for people to keep an open mind on the matter so as not to miss out on the many ways that marijuana has made life better. Hopefully, in the future, people can reduce the negative stigma associated with its source and focus on the positive outcomes.
Axisa, Liam. “A comparative approach to the legalization of marijuana in Malta-an analysis of policies and economic effects of regulation.” (2020).
Bradford, Ashley C., and W. David Bradford. “Factors driving the diffusion of medical marijuana legalization in the United States.” Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 24.1 (2017): 75-84.
Collingwood, Loren, Ben Gonzalez O’Brien, and Sarah Dreier. “Evaluating ballot initiative support for legalised marijuana: The case of Washington.” International Journal of Drug Policy 56 (2018): 6-20.
Fasesan, O. A. “Legalisation and Liberalization of Cannabis: The Benefits and Drawbacks of the Global Trend.” Annals of Health Research 8.3 (2022): 165-176.
Grech, Francesca. Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes: costs and benefits. BS thesis. University of Malta, 2018.
Hall, Wayne, et al. “Public health implications of legalising the production and sale of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use.” The Lancet 394.10208 (2019): 1580-1590.
Homel, Peter, and Rick Brown. “Marijuana legalisation in the United States: an Australian perspective.” Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice [electronic resource] 535 (2017): 1-20.
Settas, Andrea. An Analysis of the Potential Fiscal and Health Benefits of the Legalisation of the Sale of Marijuana in South Africa. MS thesis. Faculty of Commerce, 2021.