The debate over legalized marijuana has a long-standing history. With both sides arguing their points, it can become a confusing landscape where myths and facts become blurred. So we’ve outlined 6 Marijuana Facts that everyone should know.
Only people like Cheech and Chong use marijuana. – FALSE!
FACT: One in three Americans have tried marijuana. Cannabis consumption crosses all demographics and breaks all stereotypes.
From your best friend, to the guy in the next cube at work, or the person next to you at the gym, marijuana users come in all shapes and sizes. Many successful business leaders, elected officials and celebrities all admit they have smoked marijuana.
Marijuana is a gateway drug. — FALSE!
FACT: Just because someone smokes pot, it doesn’t mean they will also use hard drugs. Almost 15 years ago, a report was commissioned by Congress to examine the possible dangers of medical marijuana, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences wrote:
“Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana — usually before they are of legal age.
In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use, it is indeed a “gateway” drug. But because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, “gateway” to illicit drug use. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”
The study concludes, “There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping-stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect.”
Yes, kids who use marijuana are statistically more likely to go on to use other drugs, but that doesn’t mean marijuana use causes use of other drugs. If this were the case, then you could easily say that smoking or alcohol use is the gateway to becoming a meth addict. It simply isn’t true.
There is no scientific evidence proving marijuana’s therapeutic qualities. – FALSE!
FACT: The number of studies that have concluded marijuana’s high potential as a valuable therapy in numerous illnesses is extensive. In a White House-commissioned report in 1999, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine declared that “nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” From Dr. Sanjay Gupta to the American Nurses Association, more and more health care professionals are coming out to support marijuana’s therapeutic qualities.
Supporting marijuana legalization is politically risky. – FALSE!
FACT: Times they are a changing my friend. Just as the face of a marijuana user is changing, so is public opinion. Simply look at the numbers which cut across demographics and party lines. In a recent study, The Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of Republican millennials (those born since 1981), 63 percent, believe pot should be legalized. Support is even greater with the Democratic party, where 77 percent of millennial Democrats support marijuana legalization.
Taking a step back from politics, and looking at americans over all there is tremendous support for legalization.
Marijuana is very dangerous and can cause cancer. – FALSE!
FACT: Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes. This is a well-known fact. What you may not know is that alcohol abuse kills 75,000 people a year. Legal prescription drugs kill 100,000 people a year. No one has ever overdosed from marijuana.
Studies have also pointed out that pot is much less harmful than other Schedule 1 drugs including cocaine.
There are some dangers to marijuana smoke because it has the same carcinogens that tobacco smoke does, but a UCLA study in 2006 concluded that even heavy marijuana use does not lead to lung cancer. For those cannabis consumers who are still worried about smoking it, there are now alternative ways to use marijuana rather than simply smoking it. People wishing to avoid the carcinogens can now use vaporizers, edibles, or even tinctures.
Legalizing marijuana will strain our resources. – FALSE!
FACT: Contrary to dire warnings by marijuana prohibitionists, legalization has so far been a non-event. The most noticeable change in Colorado has come in the form of $45 million in marijuana tax revenues so far this year, high enough that the state government now must consider whether to refund some of it.
When Amendment 64 first passed Colorado Police officers were concerned, but according to a Denver police officer interview with CBC, that fear turned out to be unfounded. No matter how high stoners get, they’re nowhere near as scary as out-of-control boozers, right? Stoners don’t brawl in bars. They’re not into domestic violence.
“We found there hasn’t been much of a change of anything,” he said. “Basically, officers aren’t seeing much of a change in how they do police work.”
Jeffrey Miron, and economist at Harvard, says “Legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government.” He goes on to point out that, “Approximately $8.7 billion of the savings would result from legalization of marijuana and $32.6 billion from legalization of other drugs.”
In fact, Legalization could lead to billions of dollars in tax revenue. When states legalize pot, they can levy taxes and generate much-needed revenue for their budgets. For example, Colorado’s introduction of legal marijuana resulted in $6.17 million in tax revenue in just the first two months of 2014. That means there’s no reason to feel bad for taking advantage of Smokin’ Deals!
The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that California could raise $1.4 billion annually in extra revenue if it taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana.
Greenwave Advisors, says that legal cannabis could be a huge industry. If marijuana were to be legalized at the federal level, they project the industry would produce $35 billion in revenues by 2020. With legal marijuana, America will see an explosion of farms, stores, and manufacturing facilities for everything from potency-testing kits to specialized agricultural equipment. To put this into perspective, this is 3x the NFL’s annual revenues! Oh and did we mention, it would all be taxed?
Think of what this could do for your local economy. . .