Why the legalization of recreational marijuana is a positive

April 28, 2017 — by Harshini Ramaswamy

Legalization of marijuana reaps positive benefits. 

Pot, Marijuana, Dope, Grass, Cannabis, Ganja, Hash — all of these will be legalized for recreational purposes in California in January 2018 after the results of November’s election more than half of the country is in support of the legalization of the drug, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

Proposition 64 made California the fifth state to legalize recreational pot, following Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. The legalization of weed has had a net positive impact on all four states, lowering crime rates while increasing tax revenues. Similarly, Californians will reap from the horn of plenty that is recreational marijuana.

States with legal marijuana have reported increased tax revenues due to exposure to a new market, money which has positively impacted their social welfare programs. Funding has gone to school systems, such as in Washington, where excise tax revenue helped generate $35 million to help build schools in 2015. These revenues are also funding substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, youth and adult drug education, community health care services and academic research and evaluation on the effects of marijuana legalization in the state, according to the DPA.

If all states legalized and taxed marijuana, states could collectively expect to raise between $5 billion and $18 billion per year.

Legalized recreational marijuana is also associated with lower crime rates, especially citations for marijuana possession. In Washington, filings for low-level marijuana offenses are down 98 percent for adults 21 and older. All categories of marijuana law violations are down 63 percent, and marijuana-related convictions are down 81 percent, according to the DPA. Police resources can then be allocated to other areas of enforcement instead of marijuana-related crimes, as police arrest citizens for marijuana use more than for all violent crimes combined, according to the Washington Post.

Despite the benefits the legalization of recreational pot can bring, critics of the policies argue that the increased accessibility of weed may increase teenage consumption and DUIs.

However, according to the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey, a nationwide study that surveys over 40,000 students in grades 8, 10 and 12, found that since 2010, the annual prevalence of youth marijuana use has leveled out after rising for several years. The DPA also concluded that despite the fact that marijuana is now widely available, data has shown that it has had “little to no impact on the overall rate of youth use of marijuana.”

Contrary to public belief that DUIs would increase due to the legalization of weed, a 2016 study by Columbia University researchers observed that states with marijuana legalization had fewer opioid-related car accidents. The number of traffic fatalities also remained stable in the first year that adult possession was legalized in Washington, according to the DPA.

Writing in JAMA Internal Medicine, Marcus Bachhuber of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and his colleagues found that “medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates” as marijuana is far less addictive and dangerous than drugs derived from the opium poppy, according to the WP.

The positive net impact on the four states that had legalized recreational marijuana before California is reassuring for the implementation of Proposition 64.



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