There are a few States (as in United of America) where recreational use of marijuana is legal (unless you ask the Federal government).
And places like Colorado and Washington have had it legal for a few years now. So what effect did legalization have in those States?
What are the good and/or bad side effects of said Legalization?
Did the world end?
Is it a nonstop utopia of joy?
Or are they basically the same they always were?
Well, first of all, here’s some of the good…
Some of the main worries and concerns about legalizing marijuana were that it would increase and promote violent crimes, that it would increase consumption amongst teens, and that there would be way more marijuana-caused traffic accidents.
Well according to the Drug Policy Alliance (take their opinion for what it’s worth to you), all of those concerns were for naught ( http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2016/10/so-far-so-good-what-we-know-about-marijuana-legalization-colorado-washington-alaska-ore ).
Marijuana-related arrests have apparently dropped in legalized States (but there’s still a troubling disproportionate enforcement against People of Color).
Violent crimes have not increased. Some violent, drug-related crimes have gone down ( https://www.google.ca/amp/amp.thenewstribune.com/news/local/marijuana/article163750293.html ).
Certain marijuana-related crimes have gone up (basically, people breaking into stores to steal marijuana).
Apparently, statewide surveys of youth in legalized States has shown that there hasn’t been an increase in youth usage. Now, I don’t know how honest teens will be in a survey about them using an illegal substance. And technically, if every youth was already using marijuana, then there’s no room to increase.
But it makes sense that their usage wouldn’t increase. The only people that decide what teenagers will do are teenagers. Making something more readily available doesn’t mean teens will suddenly drown themselves in it. With almost everyone having internet access, it means that knowledge is more readily available, but that hasn’t suddenly turned teenagers into fucking geniuses. So legalizing marijuana won’t suddenly cause them all to be part of The Big Bong Theory. And how many teens will think pot’s cool if all their parents are smoking it (https://www.google.ca/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/washington-state-survey-shows-marijuana-legalization-didnt-affect-teen-use-rates-2017-3 ).
Also, according to the initial article, traffic fatality rates have basically remained the same. More people that are involved in traffic accidents are testing positive for some marijuana in their system, but because marijuana stays in the body for an extended period of time, that doesn’t mean any of the people were actually stoned whilst driving.
And alcohol-related traffic accidents ARE a real and provable thing, and no one seems to be trying to bring about prohibition again…
And legalization brings in hundreds of millions in additional tax revenue – which in turn is used to help out the communities. Hundreds of millions of dollars are usually on the low end of a State’s tax revenue. So it’s not like they’re relying on marijuana to keep them afloat (side note, don’t try to use marijuana as a flotation device. You’ll fucking drown). But the fact that its additional revenue on top of regular tax funds (plus the fact that the States are saving money by not making numerous marijuana-related arrests), means that they can invest in schools and infrastructure and pizza delivery services.
There’s an opioid crisis. Not all of the overdoses are people with prescription opioids, but some are. And when it comes to opioids, if you’re using them, then there is a chance of something bad happening.
There is a possibility (according to some) that legalization of marijuana could help decrease the number of opioid overdoses because some of the people that are prescribed opioids for pain management, might opt to try marijuana in some form instead ( https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/14/medical-marijuana-opioid/) .
Even if it helps to save a few lives, that’s already a big plus.
In Part 2, I’ll discuss some of the possible drawbacks of legalization in these States and see if the good outweighs the bad…