Should Marijuana Be Legal?

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Should Marijuana Be Legal?

Nick Rippo, Staff Writer

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Should marijuana be legal? Many states have already said yes, 10 of which (and the District of Columbia) have fully legalized it medicinally and recreationally while 22 more have legalized it medicinally with varying degrees of criminalization. But there is still a lot of opposition, especially from political elites. Their motivation may be less morally influenced then they would like to admit. Big businesses like prison, tobacco, and alcohol industries are for the most part very opposed to legalization as it may have negative implications for their bottom line. A notable exception however is Altria Group Inc. (Owner of Marlboro) taking a 45% stake in Cronos Group, a marijuana provider based in Canada.

Some criticisms are of an increased criminality due to legalization. However, history has shown the opposite is true. A great example is during prohibition. Once alcohol was made illegal, there was a huge rise in organized crime and the mafia plagued many cities across the nation. This is because a market like alcohol or marijuana cannot just be erased. That void will be immediately filled and demand increases. Due to the fact the people selling these substances are already working outside of the law, violence and criminality becomes commonplace.

Another argument against marijuana is it is a gateway drug. This is a complete misconception that conflates correlation with causation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse “The majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” substances.” There is actually an argument to be made for marijuana legalization leading to a decrease in abuse of other drugs. With Medical Marijuana being used as a pain reliever, there would be many less people being prescribed opiates. This means that medical marijuana has the potential to reduce the opioid crisis and also reduce heroin use as when people become addicted to opiates and are unable to get them they end up using the cheaper and stronger equivalent heroin.  Additionally,  Marijuana is the fastest growing job market in the US, according to MarketsInsider.com.  The industry is projected to grow 110% from 2017 to 2020.  Compare this growth to other big technologies such as solar power, which only has a projected growth of  105% in the next ten years. With these facts considered, it seems the opposition just isn’t strong enough to hold back growth.