One of the most highly debated controversies in recent years is whether marijuana should be legalized for medical and recreational use.
Although the use of cannabis is heavily restricted or banned in many areas of the United States, marijuana use is currently legal for adult use in a growing number of states, including California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Maine. According to recent poll at CBS News, an increasingly high number of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. The latest polls show that 61% of the population is in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, with 88% supporting legalizing medical marijuana.
Physical and Mental Benefits
Recent studies have suggested that cannabis can play a role in reducing symptoms of certain mental health disorders. Many mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, are currently treated with opioid medications, which can be highly addictive and are frequently overdosed. A recent article by Time Magazine reports that marijuana may act as a less dangerous substitute than prescription medication. The current Schedule 1 restriction of marijuana hinders the study of the plant, but the American Cancer Society lists several therapeutic benefits of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the “active” ingredient in marijuana. These benefits include pain relief in patients with nerve damage, increased food intake in those suffering from HIV, reducing nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, and some animal studies have suggested that cannabinoids may slow the spread of some cancers.
Many states that have voted to legalize marijuana have reaped significant economic gains. The first year after legalization in Washington, the state tallied over $67.5 million dollars of marijuana-related revenue. The economic benefits trend upward, with a projected $267 million dollars to be collected this year. By 2019, the number is expected to rise to an estimated $369 million. Not only does legalizing marijuana provide a boon to the economy, creating jobs and dramatically increasing revenue, but also regulating the industry as a business ensures that the product is safer for consumers than black market alternatives.
From making research more accessible to making illnesses more manageable, choosing to legalize marijuana provides a host of benefits. As time passes, it seems that an increasing number of states are loosening their restrictions on the cannabis plant and making it available for recreational or therapeutic use.