Cannabis legalization is a hot political issue right now that has divided the world. New research into the potential medical benefits of the drug led to a lot of states in the US lifting the ban for people that had a referral from a doctor. In the last couple of years, attitudes have changed again and a lot of states have started to allow the recreational use of marijuana. Canada recently became the second country to legalize the drug entirely and a lot of places are now considering the idea.
There are a lot of conflicting arguments about whether this is a good thing or not. One the one hand, there are people who argue that alcohol causes far more health problems as well as damage to society because of antisocial behaviour. They also cite the potential health benefits and the increased tax revenues that come along with legalization. However, on the other side of the argument, you’ve got people that maintain that the drug is damaging to mental health if abused and it should not be legalized on moral grounds.
Regardless of those that argue against it, legalization is still happening around the world. We will not know for sure whether it is a good thing until the impact of legalization is clear. So, what are the effects of marijuana legalization and is it a good thing?
Policing drugs is an incredibly expensive business and it takes up a lot of resources. One of the major benefits of legalization is that the police no longer need to use valuable resources tracking down and shutting down illegal cannabis operations. That frees up a lot of money for them to spend on dealing with other crimes, which a lot of people see as a good thing. The harsh sentences put on people with marijuana charges are another contentious issue. Advocates for the drug argue that it’s completely unfair for people that have not committed violent crimes to be handed life sentences. In Canada, a lot of people that have been charged with cannabis related offences have had their convictions overturned.
The other side to this argument, however, is that a lot of the criminals that previously dealt cannabis will move onto harder, more dangerous drugs instead. So, the police effort could still be just as costly.
Attitudes Toward Cannabis
One thing that is clear is that there has been a massive shift in people’s attitudes toward cannabis. The health benefits of the drug have been instrumental in changing those attitudes and the drug is seeing more popularity in general. Attitudes are softening and more people agree with legalization than they did before. Most of this comes down to the fact that the places that have tried it so far have benefited.
Increased Tax Revenues
By far the biggest reason to consider cannabis legalization is the financial benefits. A recent study suggests that the legal cannabis industry could generate $130 billion in tax. It is also predicted to create 1.1 million new jobs by 2025.
It’s clear that countries benefit financially for legalization and attitudes are changing in favour of it, but only time will tell what the long term impact will be.