I get it. Devil’s Lettuce isn’t your thing. All the hippies trying to get high off this obscene drug are evil. So why even consider this issue?
First and foremost, it is the right thing to do. There is ample evidence now that cannabis is successful as a medicine in many situations including autoimmune diseases, epilepsy, and cancer treatments. Almost half the states have some type of pro-medicinal cannabis laws on the books and several more are rushing to put something in place. The US Government and several other private organizations own medical patents on cannabis including #6630507 concerning the use of cannabinoids as antioxidants, and #8632835 about the anti-tumoral properties. Opposing the legalization of cannabis is no longer the noble way to save the children, because now keeping it from them is actively denying them life saving medicine. The only legitimate reason someone would oppose cannabis legalization is because they are being paid to oppose it. I can list more patents on cannabinoids, but if you can read this – you can also Google yourself!
Immigration and the Cartels
This is a hot button topic for many people across the country. We have millions of illegal immigrants and their families here in the United States with more coming every day. In 2014, the Pew Research Center noted that the immigration rates were stabilizing after years of growth. In 2014, 3.5% of our population was considered undocumented. Mexican immigrants make up just over half of that. You would be surprised how many stories you will hear where the border crossing has to be paid for by smuggling. Violence by rival gangs has plagued border towns and has even spread to tourist destinations. See some coverage here. According to the (DPA) Drug Policy Alliance, over 100,000 people have died in the Mexican Drug War. That is an awful lot of people! While cartel violence may not be the primary reason people risk the border crossing, you can be very sure it has influenced many people’s decisions! The single biggest cash crop the cartels have is cannabis, and their largest customer is the United States.
Considering the strain on our cities that cartel fueled violence is causing (work in any Atlanta area school and you will see this blatantly), it makes sense to take their money and power away. While the cartels will resort to other things for money, they won’t easily find something as ridiculously profitable as cannabis. Very few drugs grow that readily and require almost no processing. Logically speaking, legalizing whole plant cannabis in any form (medical or rec) helps to cripple these cartels. Not all states understand how affected by the cartels they are. Many of the drugs you find in any city in the US filter through Mexican cartels. (Not all but a large portion are.) Whether through 2 middle men or directly brought to the city, even Detroit drug culture runs on cartel goodies courtesy of Sinaloa. Why are we adding fuel to the fire? Legalizing cannabis could potentially take millions from the cartels and at least place them into the hands of our greedy politicians instead. That leads to reductions in violence.
Violent Crime Decreases
This happens for many reasons. First, cannabis access no longer puts people face to face with violent criminals who deal with a lot more than pot. Most dealers deal everything they can get their hands on without discrimination. They have obligations to their higher-ups, who often show displeasure with violence. The likelihood of your local budtender threatening to “pop a cap in your ass” if you don’t comply with their wishes is very slim. Cartels also have less of a presence in areas with legal cannabis…except California. California just seems to be a cartel/gang magnet for some reason. If there is little money to be made, why would a business spend time to set up shop there? Cartels are money driven businesses, violent ones, but businesses still. Lastly, consider that people on only cannabis actually don’t usually commit violent crimes. As a general rule of thumb, most cannabis users are considered hippies and lazy. Far cry from the family killing cannabis users described in the Reefer Madness Era. Here is a study on cannabis and violence.
Money for Infrastructure
With legalization comes tax money. I am not going to argue whether those taxes are proper, but people do seem willing to pay for their cannabis access. This brings in another revenue source that can potentially be used to improve community infrastructures and education. Schools and communities are screaming for funding right now, why not help them? According to CNN Money, Colorado took in about $53 million dollars in recreational cannabis tax. We even have a surplus that could potentially be a few bucks back in everyone’s pockets. That is a lot of money, and could truly help bring many states out of the red. Why let this money go to Mexican Druglords? Fifty three million from one state alone is a whole lotta guns the cartels no longer can buy!
Creates Jobs that Support Communities
Whenever you create a new industry, you create new jobs. Jobs help to keep our communities alive and thriving. Seriously, this should be a no-brainer. Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon are all creating new industries that will funnel money locally, help the communities it supports, and keeps America working. In case you haven’t noticed, many of our manufacturing jobs have left the country. America is running out of industries that support people who work with their hands. Most of America loves to work with their hands, which is why we aren’t overrun with astrophysicists. If what we were doing is failing, why beat a dead horse? Create more jobs and security for Americans!
Stop Unnecessary Incarcerations
America as an incarceration addiction. The “free-ist” nation on the planet holds roughly 5% of the world’s population. Explain to me why we have 25% of the world’s incarcerated population? According to the DPA, there were roughly 1.5 million arrests for non-violent offenses in 2013. Of those, almost half (693,482) were related to marijuana. So let this sink in. Almost half of the non-violent arrests in the United States are for cannabis charges. Now even sadder – almost 90% (88%) are only for possession. We are arresting, processing, and jailing over half a million people for cannabis every year. The criminal justice system is always going to have criminals to look into. There are enough violent criminals, burglars, and cyber thieves to keep our systems floating. Also consider who is targeted for these things. Almost 60% of these non-violent cannabis arrests are minorities, despite the usage being similar. Why are we breaking up families over a drug deemed safer than most food we eat? Cannabis has 0 overdose deaths (yes, you can still die by doing something stupid while intoxicated), and not even water has that record!
I encourage you to look in to how and why cannabis actually became marijuana and became illegal. There is a reason it was outlawed, and the name had to be changed. Most people had NO idea what marijuana was, but cannabis was readily available in their local pharmacies. It was commonly used as medicine, but never referred to as marijuana until the Anslinger onslaught. Seriously, look it up. Smoke signals is an excellent book if you want to catch up on the history of all this. There is no reason we should be spending millions of dollars incarcerating non-violent offenders, or be contributing to the multi-million dollar private prison industry.
Opiate Use/Deaths Decline
According to Newsweek, states with medical cannabis laws see opiate deaths drop by 25%! That is HUGE! More than 70% of Americans are on some type of medication, and 52% say they have for non medical reasons. Unfortunately, these medicines are incredibly addictive, and have created a conundrum for patients. Many patients, myself included, didn’t have cannabis as an option. I spent decades on NSAIDS until my kidneys said no more. Then my only option was to move up to opiates. They are my only option right now if the cannabis doesn’t work. Legalization offers a middle ground – something to try BEFORE opiates. This will lead to less addiction, which will lead to less illegal supply, which will lead to fewer patients being persecuted for needing them. From a strictly patient perspective, I need to preserve my organs as much as possible. Going to opiates caused some permanent damage that I am not sure will reverse. Eventually, I know my pain is going to need some help, that is the nature of a bone and organ eating disease. I would like to put that moment off as long as possible, so I can be strong enough to pull through it. Cannabis helps bridge that gap, and can prevent/delay opiate use for decades in some.
Also keep in mind, many patients on opiates also take other drugs including sleep aids, muscle relaxers, neuropathy drugs, and mood stabilizers. All those things together can significantly increase the risk of sudden death or accidental overdose. Using cannabis for one or more of those (I replaced ALL of those with cannabis) can really help improve the quality of life for patients, and reduce the risks of medicine reactions.
Yes I said pollution. Are you aware that hemp, the nonpsychoactive cousin to marijuana, is also illegal? Are you also aware that you can replace most petroleum-based products with hemp based products, and produce a lower carbon footprint? Everything from fuel to plastic can be made with hemp. Right now, there is a place in the Pacific Ocean called Garbage Island. Our oil based plastic polymers never truly break down, so we have this massive build up of plastic waste in the lull of the Pacific. Hemp plastic polymers completely break down. They are also stronger. Henry Ford made his first car on hemp fuel, but Rockefeller convinced him gas was the way to go. It was great for Rockefeller, because gasoline was a waste product in the production of kerosene. He found a market for his waste products. Paper can be made from hemp, rather than trees. Imagine the amount of hemp you can grow in the time it takes to harvest a tree? Legalizing cannabis has tremendously far-reaching effects!
Marijuana is a much bigger issue than we give it credit for. It has far-reaching latent effects that most can’t even begin to fathom. Jack Herer may have been right when he said that hemp could save the world. Unfortunately, humanity deems it necessary to make the most useful plant on the planet illegal. Help change that. Lives depend on it. They really actually do.