During the last couple of years, marijuana has witnessed a paradigm shift in the mindset of people. Public support in favor of marijuana legalization scaled all times new heights in 2017 when the results of “Gallup Polls” demonstrated a swing of about 64% on “Yes”.
The unresolved issue is, why the Govt. is hesitant to legalize marijuana federally?
In Nov. 6 midterm polls, Michigan became the first Midwestern state & 10th in America to legalize recreational marijuana. The voters approved proposed measure that allows the herb for recreational use. And so did Missouri & Utah voters approve Amendment 2 & Prop 2 respectively. But about 60 % North Dakota voters disapproved the marijuana legalization move.
Marijuana Legalization- Why don’t Federal Govt. & some other states favor it?
States that don’t favor legalization attach their logic to the psychoactive properties of cannabis that THC owns.
Marijuana is still considered as one of the most commonly abused illegal substances. People, who advocate that marijuana should stay prohibited, weigh their opinion on cost scales. According to them, marijuana legalization would cost heavily on state funded treatments & exchequer.
They support their views by adding that pot is addictive. They further say that cannabis is good for nothing rather it damages the brain. They associate marijuana use with increased number of patients with serious mental & general health problems.
They also say that even if the marijuana is legalized only for adults, the states won’t be able to stop teens or even younger children from using it and the results would be very bad. They base their apprehension on the experiences gained from alcohol & tobacco liberalization.
Advocates favoring prohibition on marijuana use have also apprehended increase in drug-impaired driving.
Legislatures pass Bills on the political will of the leaders, and not always according to the will of people. And so, will of the political leaders prevail over the general & legitimate demand of the masses.
Marijuana – a treasure house of medicinal properties:
In the states where it’s legal, medical marijuana is emerging as one of the fastest non-conventional medicines.
Even though possessing, processing and using marijuana in any form is illegal at the Federal level, interestingly, the use of medical CBD, a chemical compound of cannabis with non-psychoactive properties, is legal in all the states.
States have specified several critical illnesses as eligibility conditions for medical marijuana treatment. These conditions include cancers, HIV/AIDS, Neuro-degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s diseases, PTSD, ADHD, MS and many more.
As of now, no conventional medicine is available for treating some of these conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, inflammation of neurons and other neurological disorders. But researchers have found a ray of hope in medical marijuana for treating such crippling and life threatening diseases.
It’s not that these states have specified such conditions without recognizing or considering the medicinal properties of medical marijuana. Rather, it’s their firm belief based on a series of clinical tests and researches prove the herb potentially useful for treating those conditions.
It’s also not that Federal authorities are unaware of medicinal values that marijuana houses in abundance, rather they are well recognized and accepted by all as well.
Recently, FDA has granted their node to the first CBD infused drug, Epidiolex, for treating two rare epilepsy related seizure conditions. This approval adds an extra strength to the well-known fact that marijuana works where conventional medicines fail.
Why should marijuana be legalized at the Federal level?
Legalizing marijuana use is essential for the nation’s health as a public health policy. Several clinical trials and studies demonstrate that marijuana is potentially useful in pain management. Of all the options that are available with the Federal Govt. for containing opioid crisis that claims more than 75,000 American lives every year, the best possible solution is replacing opioids with medical marijuana.
Cannabis industry has enormous potentials for generating state revenue & job opportunities. All the states issue licenses and permits for carrying marijuana business. States amass tax revenues and licensee fees amounting to several billion dollars.
Even only a limited number of states have legalized the herb, its expected demand is about $55 billion.
Marijuana sales account for approximately $10 billion. These are expected to touch $20 billion by 2022.
Cannabis industry employs about 1,25,000 full time workers. The industry is expected to generate about 3,50,000 new job opportunities by 2022.
All these estimated stats are bound to shoot up in multitudes if cannabis is legalized federally.
Besides these direct cannabis based jobs, there are several thousand other people who are associated with the industry via ancillary services and by profession.
Industries that manufacture equipment for cannabis cultivation also provide jobs to thousands of workers.
Marijuana provides a viable substitute to innumerable prescription medicines that harm more through their side effects than providing relief. These side effects result in several critical ill health conditions. They hang heavy on state-funded medical policies and consume a big chunk of the state exchequer by way of medical treatment and insurance claims.
As of date, the Dist. of Columbia, Guam & Puerto Rico and 33 States have legalized using marijuana for medicinal purpose or recreation.
Ten states have allowed marijuana use for recreation. These are- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Dist. of Columbia.
These states allow adults 21 and over to use marijuana for recreation.
Earlier this New Year beginning January 1, Prop 64 relating to use of marijuana for recreation came to effect in California. On January 22, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana via the legislative process. The State legislature passed the Adult Use, Legalization Law.
The states that have launched medical marijuana programs are:
- Alaska – SB 94
- Arizona – Prop 203
- Arkansas – Law Pending
- California- SB 420 & Prop 64
- Colorado- Amendment 64
- Connecticut- HB 5389
- Delaware- SB 17
- Dist. of Columbia- Initiative 71
- Florida- Amendment 2
- Guam- Prop 14A
- Hawaii- SB 862
- Illinois- HB 1
- Louisiana- SB 271
- Maine- LD 1296, Question 1
- Maryland- HB 881, SB 923
- Massachusetts- Question 4
- Michigan- Prop 18
- Minnesota- SF 2471
- Missouri- Amendment 2
- Montana- Initiative 182
- Nevada- Question 2
- New Hampshire- HB 573
- New Jersey- SB 119
- New Mexico- SB 523
- New York- A 6357
- North Dakota- Measure 5
- North Mariana Island- HB 20
- Ohio- HB 523
- Oklahoma-SQ 788
- Oregon SB 161
- Pennsylvania- SB 3
- Puerto Rico- Regulation 155
- Rhode Island-SB 791, SB 185
- Utah- Prop 2
- Vermont-H 511
- Washington- SB 5023
- West Virginia- SB 386
Marijuana laws differ from state to state.
In States that allow it for dual purposes, the law separates medical marijuana from the recreational use by a line of demarcation. In most of the legal states, adults of age 21 can buy & use pot for recreation, whereas the lower age limit for medical use is 18. The laws also differentiate on the quantity that a person can carry for recreation or medical purpose.
Some states also allow cannabis cultivation at home for personal medical use.
Some states have broader medical marijuana laws while others have very narrow. A common feature seen in marijuana laws is that the decision whether medical marijuana is to be used or not, is left to the licensed doctors.
Though people can purchase the pot for recreation on their own, but if they are willing to use it to rid of certain ill health condition, they need recommendations from a licensed doctor. Licensed doctors can recommend medical marijuana only for treating the specified conditions.
Legal Marijuana Vs Black Market:
Even in the states where it’s not legal, anti-national & anti-social elements run a parallel black market. They not only cause huge loss of state revenue, but also create health-hazards for millions.
They supply substandard or even laced products that sometimes prove fatal.
By legalizing, states can wipe out a considerable part of this market that operates under a cover.
Medical Marijuana & Future Policies:
Future drug policies must be realistic and not apprehended. Cannabis is a storehouse of more than 100 chemical compounds. Discovery of the endocannabinoid system, immune system and nervous system revealed that cannabis based cannabinoids resemble in structure & functioning of cannabinoids that our body produces naturally.
When the cannabinoids that our body produces are not harmful, then how can be phytocannabinoids?
Medical benefits of marijuana is scientifically proven. The majority of Americans also favor marijuana legalization and some more states may choose to go legal in next few years. The Govt. should respect the will of the people and legalize the weed Federally.
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