Tuck Sands, ‘27
Drugs have been a detriment to American society. In 2022, about 200 Americans died each day from the use of fentanyl. More than 106,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021. Opioids were responsible for approximately 68,630 American deaths in 2020. The opioid crisis is clearly getting out of hand in the United States. Marijuanna is often compared to these opioids. Unlike fentanyl, marijuana is not classified as an opioid or a deadly drug.
Legalizing marijuana would boost economic growth, create new jobs, and create more revenue through taxes. The marijuana industry produced 24.6 billion dollars in tax revenue in 2022, which exceeds the market for both milk and energy drinks! Colorado raised more than 78 million dollars in their first year of having legalized marajuana, and 129 million dollars in their second. Washington collected over 220 million more dollars of tax revenue in their first year of legalizing cannabis. With only a few states having legalized marijuana, the federal government collected millions of tax dollars paid by the cannabis industry. The tax revenue from the cannabis industry has been responsible for paying for drug treatment, the police force, housing programs, and schools. The cannabis industry in Nevada raised 1.7 billion dollars in income. 428,059 jobs have been created since 2021 due to the cannabis industry. In Colorado, 40 million dollars of tax revenue from marijuana went into schools, and 105 million dollars went into housing and mental health programs.
A law legalizing marijuana would reduce the potential for there to be negative consequences for using marijuana. If marijuana is legalized by the federal government, the federal government can enforce regulations to ensure that marijuana does not contain deadly toxins or opioids, such as fentanyl. In states where marijuana is illegal, people are buying marijuana off the streets and other places on the black market that don’t have regulations to protect the consumer. Marijuana sold on the black market is far more likely to contain pesticides, fentanyl, or other deadly toxins. In the state of Washington, it has been legal to sell and consume marijuana since 2012. Yet health warnings, quality assurance, and other regulations have been put into place to reduce the harm of the drug. A federal regulation would also keep marijuana out of the hands of children. In the states where consumption of marijuana is legal, there are age restrictions to who can buy cannabis and ID requirements. In these states, marijuana consumption for minors has fallen. A study from the Center of Disease Control(CDC) showed data that in states with less cannabis restrictions, the use for minors fell by 17%. There was a 12% drop of cannabis consumption for minors in the state of Colorado, shortly after they made it legal to sell cannabis.
Most Americans agree that we should legalize marijuana for recreation. 59% of Americans support legalizing marijuana. While 73% of Democrats support legalization of cannabis, only 45% of Republicans support it, but 62% of younger Republicans support legalization to sell and consume cannabis. A study done by NORML shows that two thirds of American adults support legislation to legalize cannabis.