POT AS PROTAGONIST
Now that pot has been legalized in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, as well as federally rescheduled by the DEA from being a substance on par with heroin, ecstasy and LSD, government and state leaders, in addition to private citizens, have begun to take notice of cannabis’ new DEA status, and with that, make their own predictions for marijuana and its potential legalization.
Of course, predictions are like opinions: everyone has one. From legal scholars1 who feel that if enough states decriminalize pot, Congress may have to change the federal law that maintains it as a controlled substance, to others who feel pot has all the markings of a gateway drug2, the future of marijuana within America’s mainstream culture is, let’s say, a burning bush of controversy.
The following is a predicted list of what could occur now that marijuana has been delisted from its most dangerous drug status.
INCREASED STATE REVENUE
The Huffington Posts reports that in 2015, Washington state brought in more than $70 million in tax revenue3 within its first year of legalizing marijuana. That’s almost double the $36 million the evergreen state netted in 2014.
Increased revenue due to legalized marijuana sales can give a state more money to spend on public schools, road repair and emergency services.
In 2014, authorities made over 700,000 arrests4 due to marijuana-related charges. This computes to one incarceration occurring every 51 seconds. Of course, if marijuana was legalized, incarceration rates would go down, freeing up resources as well as revenue for other uses.
Legalization might also relieve tension among minority communities that at one time might have been targeted for marijuana possession.
Less jail and/or prison sentences, less congestion in the courts, and freed up law enforcement resources that can respond to other emergencies can potentially result from legalized marijuana sales.
BUT WE ALREADY HAVE BOOZE
Some who may not be in favor of the delisting and eventual legalization of marijuana, might cite the fact that we already have booze as a legalized drug, and with alcohol’s addictive properties, adding marijuana to that list might do more social harm than economic good.
MARIJUANA ABUSE MAY INCREASE
As is the case with any drug, there always stands the potential for marijuana use and potential abuse to increase. Regulation of marijuana is one method to try and stem its overuse, as well as having access to groups similar to alcoholics anonymous, but focusing on marijuana.
SOCIETAL COST MAY TRUMP REVENUE
According to CNBC5 both alcohol and tobacco cost society much more money than what they bring in as tax revenue. Those who are against the delisting and potential legalization of marijuana fear that much of the same will happen.
Pot-related accidents, injuries and even deaths can exponentially rise nationwide. Pot could also pose cancer-related dangers similar to those found in cigarettes. With this, we are reminded that marijuana, just like tobacco, isn’t regulated – at least not yet.
There’s two sides to legalizing marijuana, both pro and con as you can see above. Either way, this debate will no doubt continue, inciting not just the good, but the bad predictions now that marijuana has been delisted, and in the time to come, might very well be deemed a legal substance.
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- Obama: If Enough States Decriminalize Marijuana, Congress May Change Federal Law, Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016.
- Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved 2016.
- One Year of Legal Marijuana Generated $70 Million in Tax Revenue for Washington, Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016.
- Police Arrested Someone for Weed Possession Every 51 Seconds in 2014, Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016.
- Why We Should Not Legalize Marijuana, CNBC.com. Retrieved 2016.