Johnson: Marijuana reform?

Columnist Matthew Johnson advocates for better education on the benefits of marijuana. 

Matthew Johnson

Many states in America are warming up to the idea of recreational weed. This is due to a greater understanding of the effects of marijuana and people becoming more tolerant toward the drug. Over the past decade, there has been a significant change in the way individual Americans view the drug and also the amount of states that have legalized the drug.

Thus far, 16 states and Washington, D.C., have made marijuana legal for recreational use for adults. In addition to that, 36 states and Washington, D.C., have made marijuana legal for medical use. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. And in 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana. Many Americans support legalizing the drug. In fact, a reported two-thirds of American citizens support legalizing marijuana at the national level. So why are the other one-third of Americans against legalizing it? And why does the federal government keep the drug illegal?

Safety and health concerns are among the top reasons individuals use to defend their stance against the drug. Many people believe it’s a gateway drug, while others believe it causes harm to your health, or both. While these are valid concerns, there is actually little evidence to prove that marijuana is a gateway drug. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, very few people who use marijuana for recreational purposes turn to harder drugs such as cocaine or heroine. Likewise, there is little evidence to suggest that marijuana does substantial harm to one’s health.

Compared to alcohol, weed does very little to moderate damage to one’s body while alcohol does moderate to substantial harm. Alcohol is legal in all 50 states and causes an estimated 88,000 deaths per year, while marijuana causes zero. Smoking is obviously horrible for your lungs; however, consuming weed through an edible is the purest way to consume weed and does no damage to your body.

The federal government is aware that the drug itself isn’t all that bad. However, the ongoing “war on drugs,” along with Big Pharma interest groups, has a lot of influence on the federal government’s decision to keep the drug illegal. With that being said, Big Pharma would lose out on billions of dollars should the federal government legalize marijuana.

It would be a good idea to start educating people on the effects of marijuana. This would give people a greater understanding of not just how safe marijuana is to use compared to alcohol but also some of the amazing health benefits it can give to those with ailments compared to man-made pills. With all of that being said, a good majority of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. The time is now for the federal government to end this senseless and failed prohibition on marijuana.