Legalize Cannabis NOW

Personal liberty is both enshrined in the US Constitution and liberally permeates American political discourse. Put another way, having the “freedom to” (have free speech, bear arms, etc) is a big deal. Consequently, it is then something of a real head-scratcher as to why the full, federal legalization of cannabis in the US remains such a sticking point. You have the right to purchase a high-powered AR-15 weapon of war, with all of the risks that that entails, yet the right to use cannabis still languishes under a huge question mark.

Currently, federal law prohibits the use of cannabis for any use, be that medical or recreational. However, at present, ten states, plus Washington DC, allow adults over the age of 21 to use marijuana on a recreational basis, while 33 states allow for the use of medical marijuana. [1] So, while that’s progress of a kind, that still means that there are plenty of states where recreational use, and even medical use, can lead to the user ending up in significant legal jeopardy. The case for complete federal legalization is though a compelling one.

By taking cannabis completely out of the realm of criminality, that would free up enormous amounts of police and judicial resources across the country. It would also significantly improve the US’s dismal incarceration rate, especially in respect of young, male African-Americans. The arrest and conviction rates for marijuana possession are consistently higher for African-Americans in comparison to those for male, white Americans. [2]

Legalization would also allow for proper regulation of the drug, so it is safer for consumers to use. It also offers up a healthy stream of tax revenue. Colorado is a great example of that. Since legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012, it has brought in up to a billion dollars in tax revenue which has then be used for the collective good, such as infrastructure repairs like schools and highways. [3]

Another benefit of full legalization would be one of potential job-creation. The new, fully legal cannabis industry would be able to operate freely and in the open – workers would be needed for growing, cultivation and dispensing. And, of course, those workers are also another source of tax revenue as everything is being done above board.