In most US states, residents can legally use marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Cannabis is legal for medical purposes in 37 states and recreational purposes in 18 states. Despite this cannabis is still illegal at the federal level and it’s under the list of Schedule I drugs. Most proponents of cannabis believe that it should be legal federally but why should marijuana be legal federally.
Cannabis advocates believe cannabis legalization will add billions to the economy and create thousands of jobs. Federal legalization will also free up police resources and improve the lifestyle of the communities of color. Cannabis legalization will mean low street crime and a safer marijuana market. Why marijuana should be legalized federally is a common question amongst advocates. In this article, we provide the pros of federal cannabis legalization.
Marijuana Should be Legalized Federally
- Harm reduction
Some states are shifting funds from marijuana criminalization and using it to treat addicts. This goes a long way to reduce the rate of cannabis arrests. In Oregon for example, the creation of Measure 110, decriminalizes low-level drug possession. It also enhances harm reduction, substance use disorder treatment, and other beneficial services.
The Drug Policy Alliance in Oregon results in 60% fewer total drug arrests in the 10 months. After the introduction of Measures 110 in Oregon, there was a reduction in nearly 5,500 arrests. Measure 110 also meant that part of the cannabis tax revenue goes into addiction centers. In the first 10 months after Measure 110, substance abuse disorder saw a great reduction.
- Increased tax revenue
The cannabis industry has a large legal and black market. The Tax Foundation notes that the illegal U.S. marijuana industry costs billions annually in lost tax revenues. Furthermore, New Frontier Data predicts that the federal legalization of cannabis could improve the US economy. By 2025, cannabis could generate a cumulative $105.6 billion in federal tax revenue and 1 million new jobs. Therefore, we see more reasons why marijuana should be legalized federally.
While there is no specific forecast on cannabis legalization, polls are not far from the truth. California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office notes that the state had $652 million in cannabis excise tax in 2020-21. It also experienced $165 million in cultivation tax in 2020-2021. Reports estimate that cannabis legalization will produce at least 81,000 jobs in California. It will also increase total labor income by at least $3.5 billion.
- Cannabis is safer than alcohol
Most researchers note that cannabis is less toxic than alcohol. Alcohol possesses a greater risk of addiction than alcohol and won’t cause serious medical problems. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that about 50,000 Americans die because of alcohol. There are about 2,200 additional deaths from an acute overdose of alcohol each year. While cannabis may not increase mortality, it won’t cause any deaths either.
There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting why marijuana should be legalized federally. The end of cannabis prohibition may be near but despite its schedule 1 status, the cannabis market will only grow.