The popular tide is turning towards the legalization of marijuana in United States. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of American adults in favor of legalization has jumped 31 points to 53% in the last 15 years . And starting in 1989, voters or legislatures in 25 of the 50 states have helped enact laws legalizing weed in one way or another. Hell, even traditionalist, “values” politicians such as Ted Cruz are warming up to it.
Still, some people need convincing. If you’re about to square off with someone who’s still stuck in the “Just Say No” era, here’s 14 facts you need to have in hand.
Weed Is Less Addictive Than Any Other Drug Out There
Studies suggest that less than 10% of users will wind up psychologically dependent on it. In comparison, 15% of alcohol users get hooked, 17% of coke users, 23% of heroin users, and 32% of tobacco users. Even at that, pot dependence is far more treatable and less recurrent than any other drug studied.
…And Less Harmful Too
Get it right, there are zero instances of fatal weed overdoses on the record. Zero. The same can’t be said for cough syrup. As well, no one has found that weed poses a significant risk to the heart, liver, muscles, kidneys, intestines, bones, eyes, etc., etc., etc.
Though It May Cause Lung Damage
The CDC, NIH, and American Lung Association have all issued warnings against smoking marijuana in any form. Your opponent may know that. Then again, you can say, all those public-health groups have offered the same warnings for tobacco and that’s still legal.
And, Yes, It May Cause Developmental Issues
As with alcohol and prescription drugs, there have been studies that suggest weed can impair growing minds. That, however, has no bearing on the question of whether it should be legal for adults and those studies were not conclusive.
But It’s Medical Benefits May Outweigh The Risks
In the majority of the 25 states that have legalized marijuana as medicine, it has been approved by state boards as having positive effects in the treatment of cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, chronic pain, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s Disease, IBD, epilepsy, and many more. Those are serious conditions agreed upon by government-approved boards of government-approved doctors. Oh, and there’s more uses are being discovered all the time.
Weed Is Not a Gateway Drug
There’s an odd irony that the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse is writing opinion pieces such as “Marijuana Has Proven to Be a Gateway Drug” while NIDA’s own position on the matter is that, “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances.” Yes, most people who do, say, heroin have also smoked weed. But that’s correlation, not causation. Matter of fact, the whole concept of a “gateway drug” is highly debatable.
Almost Half of All Americans Have Already Tried It
And they’re just fine! Yes, according to a National Institutes of Health survey in 2012, 49% of those polled had tried weed at one time in their lives. If it were really so pernicious, wouldn’t America have been destroyed a long time ago?
Humans Have Been Using Weed for at Least 5,000 Years
While there has been evidence of weed in and surrounding human settlements going back even further, the first historical documentation of weed as a medicine dates to around 2900 B.C. Somehow, humanity has survived.
The Original Reasons That Weed Was Made Illegal Were Unscientific
And racist, too! The plant first became a target of the government during a national wave of fear over Mexican immigrants in the early 1900s. Newspapers were full of bold headlines suggesting immigrants turned into dangerous beasts while using it, but were short on facts. Eventually, that spun into fears that African American men would either rape or seduce white women, which helped pass further restrictions in the late 1930s. None of these claims—most of them racist—were evidence based, but that didn’t stop lawmakers from taking up the issue in order to cast themselves as crusaders.
And That Ban Created a Criminal Industry
Before its prohibition in the early 20th Century, marijuana was either harvested from the wild or grown in small batches, and always distributed on a piecemeal basis. After hemp’s popularity as a staple lost out to other materials, it was not a substantially profitable crop. Fast forward just a couple of generations, and distributors were making millions while scores of Americans lost their freedom or their lives by participating in the black market.
An Industry That Kills Thousands
While weed-related murders in the U.S. are rare, no less than 6,300 Mexicans died in cartel clashes in 2008, which was considered a solid, low number at the time.
And Has Landed Thousands More in Prison
In addition to the 40,000 people who are currently locked up for one weed charge or another, cops arrested 619,809 people in 2014 for simply possessing a drug that the person you’re arguing with has just heard is relatively benign.
All Those Arrests Are Glutting Up Our Justice System
With 8.2 million pot arrests between 2001 and 2010, that’s millions of man hours lost by thousands of cops, administrators, lawyers, judges, and corrections officers who could have been spending their time keeping us safe from more dangerous things.
And Costing The Public Billions Every Year
The conservative Cato Institute estimates that we would save no less than $8.7 annually by legalizing pot. Remember that number.
Legalization Could Earn Us Billions More
The same study from the same—let’s say it again—conservative institute says taxing legalized weed could net the federal government another $8.7 billion a year, making the net from legalization $17.4 billion, and that’s before factoring in the benefits to the local businesses who would be distributing it.
So, have you convinced anyone yet?