Is marijuana on the verge of nationwide acceptance?

Marijuana is no doubt on the verge of nationwide acceptance. While full acceptance and legalization on both state and federal levels may take longer than many activists would like, there is no denying that public perception has shifted. The trend towards acceptance of marijuana is not likely to reverse anytime soon.

More than half of the states in the U.S. are currently looking at proposals to allow medical marijuana or to legalize it outright. What’s more is that the Obama administration has stated that it will not be interfering with state’s laws on the issue.

These proposals have gone hand in hand with increased social acceptance of marijuana across the country. A Pew Research Center poll conducted in April of 2013 revealed that the majority of respondents now favored the legalization of marijuana. Even more recently, a CBS News poll conducted this past January also showed, for the very first time, majority support for marijuana legalization.

It’s not hard to see why public opinion has been swayed on the issue.

Marijuana has been proven to be a viable treatment option for a variety of disorders, and as a possible cure for certain types of cancers and HIV. This, of course, is why medicinal marijuana has made inroads in so many states.

But this has also been an impetus for the legalization of recreational marijuana use, as many people have started wondering why a plant that can almost be considered a miracle drug in the hands of a medical marijuana patient would suddenly become a potential hazard in the hands of a healthy person.

To be sure, there are many prescription drugs which should not be used for recreational purposes. For example, prolonged painkiller use can not only have negative side effects on one’s health, but may even lead to substance abuse and addiction. It’s very true that some “drugs” should be reserved only for those who need them medically.

However, marijuana seems to have no such negative side effects on healthy people. Several studies have been done on the subject, and the typical negative side effects of marijuana include dry eyes, dry mouth, and some mild dizziness. Sure, this may be uncomfortable for some, but mild discomfort is not a compelling reason to keep marijuana out of the hands of people who want to use it recreationally. The list of potential negative side effects of alcohol is, after all, much longer and much more potentially deadly.

Another key point is that the oft repeated claims that marijuana kills brain cells, impedes memory, or somehow causes you to become stupider, are also nowhere to be found in the scientific literature. In fact, marijuana has been shown in one preliminary study to enhance verbal memory function. Other short-term and long-term studies have likewise found no cognitive deficits from marijuana use.

People across the country are refusing to listen to decades of propaganda and are starting to see marijuana for what it is: a safe and effective medicine for those who need it, and a harmless way to unwind recreationally. The polls are in, and the laws are slowly changing. The last and most important statistic of note is that, according to the Pew poll, support for marijuana decriminalization among those born after 1980 stands at 65%.

Many opponents surely hope that this number will decrease as younger constituents lose the liberalism and rebelliousness of youth, but the truth is that this number will only continue to grow. Support among older generations has likewise grown and sits at higher percentages than ever, proving that this is not a passing trend among young adults, but a major cultural shift in how we collectively view marijuana.