Unpacking the Pros and Cons of Legalizing Marijuana

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There are many pros to legalizing marijuana such as providing consumers with safe, natural treatment options. However, there are also cons to keep in mind as legalization continues throughout the states such as how it will affect the black market sales of more dangerous drugs.

Keep reading to unpack the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana.

Pro: Minimizing Black Market Marijuana Sales

The prohibition of marijuana began on a state level in the early 1910s; however, marijuana was always still accessible from the black market.

Black market sellers could be anyone from a shady street dealer to a close friend or family member. Anyone selling marijuana illegally is an active participant in the black market and although these purchases are generally considered safe, they are more dangerous and involved than one may think.

Although an individual may trust the friend selling them weed, they likely received it from a person whose life intertwines deeper in the black market and their sellers; even deeper. To simplify, marijuana generally comes from a large illegal grow operation, and more often than not, there are ties to organized crime, mafia, or even terrorist organizations located in another country.

Since marijuana has become legal in most states, cannabis-related organized crime has significantly decreased.

Pro: Safer Marijuana

One of the negatives of purchasing black-market marijuana is the question of whether or not it is safe to consume.

Medical marijuana received from a dispensary is grown in a safe and stable environment that follows strict rules and regulations every step of the way. Black market marijuana may not be cared for as carefully during cultivation, which means that mold, harmful pesticides, and bugs may be contaminating the plants.

Although uncommon, black-market marijuana may be laced with stronger, more dangerous drugs because it’s a cheap way to make buds seem “naturally” more potent.

Having access to legalized marijuana removes the questions surrounding the safety of what is being consumed.

Pro: Alternative Treatment Methods Available

Many individuals suffer from a disease, illness, or condition that is not easily treated with typical pharmaceuticals.

Marijuana is often a great addition or replacement medication for those struggling to find effective treatment.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, and as individuals began using it, researchers discovered that the plant helps numerous health conditions in some way.

Pain, anxiety, mood disorders, muscle conditions, seizures, nausea, insomnia, and eczema are just a few examples of conditions that marijuana can treat. Typical medications prescribed by a doctor often come with negative side effects and the risk of developing an addiction. Marijuana on the other hand is a non-addictive option that has no long-term or harmful side effects. 

Pro: Decriminalization

Many states have decided to decriminalize marijuana in addition to legalization.

Decriminalization means minor marijuana offenses no longer result in jail time, and fines are minimal.

In 2022, roughly 45,000 individuals were incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. Arresting people for having or selling small amounts of cannabis takes an incredible toll on the resources of our justice system.

American tax dollars are better spent on incarcerating criminals trafficking dangerous drugs. In 2022, Biden announced that the pardoning of prior marijuana offenses will take place alongside decriminalization.

Con: Open Marketing of a Controlled Substance

The legalization of marijuana comes with the marketing of its products, and although marijuana is safer than alcohol and cigarettes, many people are opposed to the advertisement of a mind-altering controlled substance.

Cigarette commercials were banned because they gave children the impression that smoking was “cool”. The open marketing of marijuana products has many parents worried the same will happen.

Con: Increased Black Market Sales of Dangerous Drugs

The near elimination of black market cannabis sales is a good thing; however, it means that cartel, mafia, and large drug dealers must make their money in other ways. 

Unfortunately, when the black market began losing income from illegal marijuana sales, they started pushing the sale of other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine in addition to the trafficking of humans. It is suspected that the heroin epidemic sweeping over the nation and the increase in human trafficking is the direct result of marijuana legalization.

These more dangerous black market sales have the potential to get worse as more states continue legalizing marijuana.

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