So what are some of the negative side effects of legalization in some of these States?
Well, a positive effect that unfortunately leads to a negative effect is job creation. Job creation is a GOOD thing. But so many people treated legalization like the gold rush (different types of nuggets, folks). Because of the number of jobs created in the growing, harvesting, producing, and selling of marijuana, people came to these States from all over the country looking for work. Many of them weren’t qualified or lucky enough to find a job though (http://fortune.com/pot-marijuana-colorado/).
But the upside is that those homeless folks can legally smoke weed, which should help to ease some of the anxiety and depression that comes with being homeless.
And even though some drug-related crimes have decreased in legal States, it’s caused more black market activity in non-legal States (https://amp.usatoday.com/story/507417001).
People are legally growing or buying massive amounts of marijuana in certain States and then shipping them cross-country to non-legal areas. That’s the problem when something isn’t legal all across the country.
It’s like if sex farmers were planting and growing prostitutes in Nevada and then harvesting them and shipping them all throughout the country. You’re always going to have an issue when legalities are hit and miss across the board.
A major and unfortunate side effect of legalization is the increase in pediatric pot poisoning (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2534480). But that can also be attributed to lazy or negligent parents.
It’s legal, so more people might be apt to try it. But because it’s legal (and because sometimes stoners can be kind of absent-minded), they might not be as panicked about immediately cleaning up their “stash” after partaking in the pot. Many children will at some point, put everything in their mouth and try to eat it. I’ve seen kids trying to eat their own foot just because it was closer than their bottle. Like guns, alcohol, prescriptions, porn, and Nickelback CDs, parents need to always be responsible and store their stuff safely and properly.
Speaking of emergency rooms, there also seems to be an uptick in tourists visiting them due to excessive pot consumption in legal States (https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/emergency-room-visits-double-marijuana-using-colorado-visitors-n525081). Mostly, that’s due to them having no clue how strong edibles are and how they work. They’ll eat too many because they “don’t feel anything”, and then it all hits them at once like a semi-truck flirting with a Smart Car.
Apparently, there are also more employees testing positive in their workplace’s drug tests in legal States (http://newsroom.questdiagnostics.com/2014-09-11-Workforce-Drug-Test-Positivity-Rate-Increases-for-the-First-Time-in-10-Years-Driven-by-Marijuana-and-Amphetamines-Finds-Quest-Diagnostics-Drug-Testing-Index-Analysis-of-Employment-Drug-Tests).
But to be fair, most jobs fucking suck and the companies should provide free marijuana to its employees. But for companies with strict anti-drug policies, this can be a major blow to someone that relies on their income to survive.
And, some studies have revealed that in some legal States, the THC levels in marijuana can be off the charts while the actual medicinal properties can be quite low or nonexistent (https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/legal-weed-surprisingly-strong-dirty-tests-find-n327811).
It’s like restaurants competing to have the spiciest of spicy chili. It’s a way to try and attract customers to your location. But eventually, you find that chili that burns a hole through the fabric of time.
Extremely potent THC-laden weed might be nice for some people that want to get REALLY high. But for people consuming it and assuming they’re getting medicinal benefits from it, it could be dangerous or worthless.
There need to be regulations in place.
So which side of the scale does legalization in these States land on? It’s tough to definitively say for sure. It’s too early to make a 100% judgment either way.
But the medicinal benefits of marijuana are scientifically proven. And I believe that in the end, the pros do (or will) outweigh the cons. Legalization as a whole is a good thing. Staggered legalization causes issues. And a lack of specific regulations and quality control will harm the industry. And with everything, education and common sense goes a long way.
But I feel that the fully legalized States are on the right side of history. Everyone else can learn from the mistakes and drawbacks and then improve on those in the future.