The Marijuana Debate: 5 Facts You May Not Know

The issue of marijuana legalization gained steam in 2010 when several peer-reviewed studies demonstrated the plant’s medicinal qualities. However, the US government, in classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, has effectively ruled that the plant has no medicinal value. States began to take matters into their own hands by allowing the people to decide for themselves. To date, over 20 states have legalized medicinal marijuana. If you’re a marijuana advocate, arm yourself with these facts so that you can make your case to anyone, anywhere.

Growing Support

Marijuana is no longer seen as an evil gateway drug by the American public. In fact, several recent polls show that over 50% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. Compare that to the famous 1969 Gallup poll which showed that only 12% of Americans supported legalization. Much of the change in public opinion has occurred in recent years, in large part due to the suffering incurred by parents of children with Dravet syndrome. Many parents found that this crippling disease is well controlled by cannabis-derived CBD oil, and many of them have moved to states where it is legal, at great expense.

Alcohol is More Dangerous

Around 69% of Americans believe that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, and there is plenty of evidence to back that assertion up. Alcohol consumption, which is, of course, legal nationwide, is responsible for around 37,000 deaths annually according to the Centers for Disease Control . Marijuana death, in contrast, is so rare that the CDC doesn’t even track it. Furthermore, it is relatively easy to overdose on alcohol, while it is virtually impossible to OD on marijuana. Finally, while the human body does not produce alcohol in any form, the body does produce its own versions of many of the chemicals found in cannabis.

Marijuana is Broadly Used

Is it coincidental that over half of Americans support the legalization of marijuana while 47% of Americans have tried it? According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in existence. According to the study, around 19 million Americans over the age of 12 had used the drug in the month prior to survey. Incidentally, that is a lot of money going to drug dealers instead of to state tax offices.

Marijuana is Fully Legal in Two States

Only two states have begun funneling that money away from cartels and drug dealers and into their own coffers: Colorado and Washington. Colorado raked in an impressive $3.5 million in January of 2014 alone from recreational pot sales. Across the country, over 40 states have softened their anti-drug policies, and 15 of them have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession. In Colorado, amidst projections that violent crime would skyrocket in 2014, crime rates nevertheless remained stable as of May.

Political Groups Divided

While most Americans think marijuana should be legalized, there is sharp disagreement between demographics. For instance, most Democrats think that penalizing marijuana users is a waste of money, while only in four Republicans share that view. Most African Americans and non-Hispanic whites believe that pot should not be illegal, while 57% of Hispanics say that it should remain illegal indefinitely. Most people in their 20s and early 30s believe that the drug should be legal, while 70% of individuals over the age of 69 disagree. With the demographics so opposed, only time will tell when marijuana will become legal on a federal level. One thing that most people can agree on, however, is that nationwide legalization is inevitable.