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Here are 8 reasons to change marijuana laws on a federal level.

  1. Restriction has been a failure. Any statements that the war on drugs has been successful is completely unsupported by evidence. The government has attempted to use criminal penalties for over 75 years, but ultimately the restriction has failed to regulate the use and production of marijuana.

As of today, over 25 million people use marijuana every year, making it the largest cash crop in the United States. Any notion that marijuana will be eradicated from this country or from the planet is more than a fantasy– it’s a ludicrous fantasy.

  1. It would lower gang activities. It is common sense: The illegality of anything is going to make it more valuable than if it were legal. Marijuana’s illegality makes foreign cultivation and smuggling to the United States an extremely profitable business for drug cartels and gangs. They send billions into the underground economy of other nations who may be aggressive to the US.

This also goes for domestic drug dealing. Though the use of alcohol and tobacco remains a serious health problem, even though they are legal, the accessibility of these two commodities gives people less incentive to sell them on the black market. If the sale of pot were legal, then teenagers would face more difficulty making effortless money off of selling it to their friends and peers.

  1. Legalizing marijuana is safer for the community. Basing on history, regulation associates to public safety. Take, for example, the restaurant industry, which has to be inspected for health violations, or pharmaceutical companies, who need to submit their products to the FDA for testing. The marijuana business would work the same way. Regulating marijuana would displace the underground market, keeping it harder for children to get the drug, while making things easier to hold specific pot dealers more accountable for foul play, ensuring consumers get quality products without hazardous additives.
  2. It’s a valuable agricultural commodity. Altering marijuana laws could lead to billions of dollars in tax revenue. The induction of Colorado’s Amendment 64 brought in greater than $30 million of taxable revenue for their budget. If California taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana, it could raise yearly revenue by $1.4 billion. If marijuana is legalized federally, the marijuana industry could potentially be three times bigger than the NFL, which could all be taxed, saving the US $13.7 billion a year.

Even if recreational marijuana use was not legalized, the US is still missing a golden opportunity to support legal hemp development– like Canada and Europe. It is also crucial to develop hemp as a biofuel source, as a way of decreasing carbon emissions. Hemp stalks will also not enhance demand and prices for food, like corn does.

  1. Marijuana is much safer than alcohol. Testing has revealed that using marijuana is significantly safer than drinking alcohol. In fact, for every thousand regular alcohol drinkers there are eight more trips to the E.R than for every thousand marijuana users. In short, you are 30 percent more likely to get sent to the E.R. for alcohol than marijuana. It is an established scientific fact that overdosing off of marijuana is nearly impossible. Marijuana is also not as addicting as alcohol or tobacco.
  2. Marijuana is costing our court system. On average, over 750,000 individuals get arrested for marijuana possession every year. The responsibilities of law enforcement are too great to concentrate on marijuana offenders and it is far too expensive for our justice system to dispose every one of these cases– as it wastes space, clogs up the court systems and diverts time away from attorneys, judges, and corrections officials. Their attention would be better spent on cases involving violent crimes and terrorism. What’s more, taxing marijuana would provide the money required to fund vital criminal justice and social programs.
  3. Marijuana can heal. Though for decades the restriction on marijuana has hampered serious scientific study into the risks and health benefits of marijuana, there is considerable documentation that it can actually minimize many medical disorders, such as:

Pain: 70-80 % of patients experienced pain relief when using medical marijuana.

Glaucoma: Marijuana lowers intraocular pressure, and reduces damage to the optic nerve.

Epileptic Seizures: Cannabinoids control seizures by binding to the brain cells in charge of regulating excitability and managing relaxation.

Cancer: In some studies, cannabidiol has been shown to stop cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Studies have found that THC, the active chemical in marijuana, slows down the buildup of amyloid plaques by obstructing the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques are what kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: University of Nottingham analysts found that chemicals in marijuana, including THC and cannabidiol, interact with cells in the body that play an important role in gut function and immune responses.

Anxiety: Studies suggest that some of the drug’s benefits may actually improve the smoker’s mood and act as a sedative in low doses.

Improving Lung Health: In a research study, tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot smokers actually showed an increase in lung capacity.

  1. Legalization is inevitable. Currently, four states and Washington D.C. allow recreational marijuana use, while 19 states allow it for medical purposes, and 14 have decriminalized it. Alaska, Oregon, Washington are already in the process of introducing a model whereby marijuana can be legally sold, taxed and regulated.

In the 19 states where medical marijuana is legitimate, regulation varies so widely concerning the requirements for acquiring a medical marijuana card that it ultimately assumes a quasi-legal status. Like with medical marijuana, states that decriminalized marijuana vary a great deal in their laws. In the 14 states that have decriminalized marijuana, the penalties have softened a great deal that the courts are often limiting or eliminating prison time and opting for fines instead.

Assistance for an adjustment in marijuana laws towards legalization has steadily improved, with recent polls showing that over 58 % of the country.

References
About Marijuana. (n.d.). Retrieved from NORML Foundation: http://norml.org/aboutmarijuana

Chronic Pain Treatment and Management with Medical Marijuana. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.medicalmarijuana.net: http://www.medicalmarijuana.net/uses-and-treatments/chronic-pain/

Goodman, B. (n.d.). Marijuana Smoking Not Linked to Chronic Breathing Problems. Retrieved from www.webmd.com: http://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20120103/marijuana-smoking-not-linked_to-chronic-breathing-problems

Ingraham, C. (2014, July 31). The federal government’s own statistics show that marijuana is safer than alcohol. Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/31/the-federal-governments-own-statistics-show-that-marijuana-is-safer-than-alcohol/

Kreps, D. (2015, January 30). Colorado May Pay Residents Over Excess Marijuana Revenue. Retrieved from www.rollingstone.com: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/colorado-may-pay-residents-over-excess-marijuana-revenue-20150130

Lisa M. Eubanks, C. J. (2008, October 6). A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2562334/

Pot Legalization Could Save U.S. $13.7 Billion Per Year, 300 Economists Say. ( 2012, April 17). Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/economists-marijuana-legalization_n_1431840.html

Swift, A. (n.d.). For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana. Retrieved from www.gallup.com: http://www.gallup.com/poll/165539/first-time-americans-favor-legalizing-marijuana.aspx

Uniform Crime Report. (2010). Retrieved from www.fbi.gov: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/persons-arrested

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