Historically, America has had a difficult relationship with marijuana. From Reefer Madness, to Nixon dubbing cannabis ‘public enemy number one’, to the current War on Drugs, the government’s relationship with marijuana hasn’t always been positive. However, now that states have started legalizing it, both medically and recreationally, we can see a major change in perception of cannabis usage in society.
So far the impact of marijuana legalization is undeniably positive. In 2012, Colorado and Washington (the first states to legalize the substance) made cannabis recreationally legal for people 21 and over. Just from the cannabis industry, Colorado’s state economy has boomed immensely, creating 18,000 jobs in 2015 and $2.4 billion dollars in economic activity.
On a federal scale, job creation and economic activity would increase rapidly.
In addition to the economic benefit, there’s a medical aspect to marijuana consumption as well. In New York, medical marijuana consumption became legal in January 2016. The Compassionate Care Act (New York’s Law concerning medical marijuana consumption) only allows people with “severe debilitating or life threatening conditions” to obtain marijuana, exclusively in extract form. The qualifying conditions are cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, some forms of spinal cord damage, epilepsy, and a few other serious conditions. Lawmakers are currently deciding whether to add Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, dystonia, PTSD, and rheumatoid arthritis to the eligible disease list. In these cases, consumption of marijuana can assist with appetite issues, chronic pain, and physical tremors from either multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Overall, we’re seeing American drug policy change, and we will continue to. The most important thing to do is to stay educated. Know what’s going on and stay informed on your local representatives stance on marijuana, both medically and recreationally. Historic decisions are being made, and I for one am excited to see what comes to fruition.