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Report Debunks Negative Claims about the Legalization of Marijuana

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August 31, 2016 9:00 AM

Report_Debunks_Negative_Claims_about_the_Legalization_of_Marijuana.jpgOver the past few years, new laws have made cannabis more accessible in countries around the world. The Netherlands decriminalized the substance in 1976, but more recently, other countries such as Israel and Canada have implemented medical marijuana legislation. But the legalization of marijuana in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington has perhaps garnered the most attention.

But old habits die hard, and harmful anti-cannabis rhetoric has continued in the wake of these decisions. In the last Canadian election, for example, then-prime minister Stephen Harper promised to bolster criminal drug laws, claiming that legalization in Colorado resulted in poor health, addiction and children’s use of marijuana. These assertions aren’t just opportunistic, they’re also untrue. Last year, the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy launched the #CannabisClaims campaign to dispel some of the harmful rumours surrounding the legalization of marijuana in these four U.S. states. As you’ll see below, many of these negative claims use distorted information or outright lies to justify political agendas.

MYTH: Legalizing Marijuana Makes It More Available

Harper claimed that legalization resulted in an increase in marijuana use among children. However, prohibition itself is ineffective at preventing youth from using the substance. A study from the Institute for Social Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicated that in 2015, 80 percent of respondents in the 12th grade reported “that they could get marijuana fairly easily or very easily if they wanted some.” #CannabisClaims argues that legalizing marijuana will reduce youths’ ability to access cannabis in a manner similar to the decline in cigarette availability between 1992 and 2015.

MYTH: More People Will Use Marijuana upon Legalization

Again, prohibition and harsh drug punishments do not necessarily deter drug use. A 2011 report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction found that drug policy changes over the course of ten years did not affect cannabis use. It is too early to study the effects of recreational marijuana legalization will have on use rates in the United States. However, a study in The Lancet Psychiatry of youth cannabis use in jurisdictions that legalized medicinal marijuana found that there was no major difference in marijuana use before and after legalization took place.

MYTH: Legalization Will Lead to More Impaired Driving

Since Colorado legalized marijuana, the state has introduced laws to limit THC blood levels in drivers, as well as a major education push about the substance. This has increased public awareness of potential harmful behaviour, similar to campaigns that have focused on drunk driving. It is also too early to gain credible data about cannabis-related impaired driving rates in the four states that have legalized marijuana, so claiming that the drug will increase impaired driving is irresponsible and not backed up by facts.

MYTH: Drug Crime Will Remain Prevalent Under Legalization

Under prohibition, possession and distribution of marijuana constitutes drug crime. Therefore, if these practices become legal, drug crime will decrease because those who would have been arrested are no longer a threat. Furthermore, the supply of cannabis will no longer come from illegal sources, but from a regulated and credible merchant. While some definition of drug crime, like unlicensed sellers, will always exist, the legalization of cannabis will make a difference in the prevention of such crimes.

MYTH: Marijuana is a Gateway Drug, and Legalization Will Lead to an Increase in the Abuse of Other Narcotics

This is a standard example of confusing correlation with cause. Some users of marijuana will go on to use harder drugs. However, this may be due to other underlying factors such as lifestyle, personality, mental health, and more. The belief that marijuana use causes further drug abuse has never been proven, and some studies have even found that legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco have greater links to narcotics compared to cannabis.


Topics: marijuana legalization

What You Should Know About Marijuana Legalization

Posted by Administrator


December 08, 2014 9:52 AM

What_You_Should_Know_About_Marijuana_LegalizationSimply put, marijuana legalization would make it legal for citizens to consume cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. Though medical marijuana is legal in most of North America, its recreational use has only been legalized in four states and Washington, DC. It is still prohibited in all of Canada. This means that if you’re not in one of those few states, you can be charged for consuming cannabis without a marijuana prescription, even if you’re only using it for medicinal purposes.


However slow the road to marijuana legalization has been in North America, head way is being made. Citizens are increasingly siding with legalization. A 2014 Gallup survey suggests 51% of US citizens now support legalization—which is a big step up from the mere 12% in favour of it in 1970. With all the evidence we have on marijuana today, prohibition just doesn’t make sense anymore. After all, cannabis is safe, natural, and medically beneficial.

The Arguments against Legalization

Opponents believe that legalizing cannabis will only lead to trouble. They believe that it will provide easier access to the drug for teens and serve as a gateway to other drugs. They think cannabis has too many negative health and psychological effects and that there isn’t enough research conducted on the subject to prove its effectiveness for medical purposes.

The Arguments for Legalization

On a legal and political level, pro-marijuana advocates argue that governments can make a killing off marijuana legalization: they can generate tax revenues and create jobs with a legal, regulated cannabis market. They will also save money from the court and prison costs that will be eliminated once citizens stop being arrested with simple marijuana possession charges. They also argue that most of these charges are racially skewed, and legalization will help to eliminate this problem. Governments will also be able to move their costly resources from the losing war on drugs to more useful government programs.

They also contend that legalizing cannabis will actually lower the risk of teens having access to it—since it won’t be a profitable illegal business anymore, street dealers will inevitably lose interest in the trade, making it more difficult for young citizens to get their hands on it. Drug cartels will lose revenue in the black market through its illegal sales. Advocates argue that marijuana legalization can be the best way to actually fight drug cartels in the nation. Current strategies have not worked, but legalization might just be the answer.

From a health perspective, advocates argue that marijuana is actually safer than other legal products, such as alcohol and tobacco and that the side effects are minimal at best.

From a medical perspective, they fight back about the opponent’s claim that there isn’t even evidence proving therapeutic benefits by arguing that the current laws are what’s prohibiting scientists from conducting the trials that will prove its effectiveness. The few trials that have been conducted thus far have all shown positive effects for patients.

The Future

Tightly regulated, marijuana legalization could boost the nation’s economy, generate tax revenue, create jobs, and push drug cartels out of the country. It can also provide relief from pain and debilitating symptoms for many patients who aren’t finding effective treatment using often dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical drugs.

Though some progress has been made on this issue given that some states have begun to legalize cannabis and more citizens are seeing its benefits, there is still a long way to go for national legalization in North America. Nonetheless, supporters will continue to advocate and campaign for legalization in the future.


Topics: marijuana legalization

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