Pro-marijuana activists have done a remarkable job recruiting foot soldiers, getting ballot initiatives passed, and generally changing public perception about their favorite plant. We now have 40 states with medical cannabis programs along with recreational consumption in 23 of them. But not everyone believes marijuana legalization is a good idea.
It is clear that public perceptions have changed in recent years. The majority of Americans now believe cannabis should be legal, at least as a medicine. Recreational consumption has strong support as well. Yet there are still vocal opponents speaking out against it. They continue to cite evidence showing that the country is headed in the wrong direction. However, their evidence is contradicted by opposing evidence supporting the idea that legal marijuana is harmless.
Marijuana Cartels in California
Arizona became the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana a few years ago. Sheila Polk, a state legislator at the time, led the charge to keep marijuana illegal. She ultimately lost that battle. However, a piece recently published by the Arizona Republic claims that Polk was right all along.
The Republic’s Phil Boas highlighted just some of the fallout we are now witnessing. At the top of his list is crime perpetrated by marijuana cartels in California. The cartels used to operate down in Mexico. But once California gave the green light to recreational pot, they decided it was cheaper to do business on U.S. soil rather than having to ship their products from south of the border.
It is bad enough that Mexican cartels are operating in California. But that is not the half of it. According to Boas’ research, marijuana isn’t the only thing the cartels have brought with them. They have also brought their brutal and merciless business practices. Things are so bad in some parts of California that law enforcement refuses to get involved.
Marijuana and Public Health
Crime issues aside, marijuana legalization appears to be linked to a rise in public health concerns. Boas cites three studies to prove the point. First is the 2021 Survey on National Drug Use and Health, a survey that shows a demonstrable increase in marijuana use disorder correlating with legalization.
Next up is a National Institutes of Health study demonstrating a link between regular marijuana use and schizophrenia in young men. Boas finishes up with a University of Virginia study suggesting that legal medical marijuana is linked to increased opioid mortality in medical cannabis patients.
Pick Your Favorite Science
Unfortunately, marijuana legalization is like so many other controversial topics in this country. It has been politicized to the extent that it is impossible to have a rational discussion about it. Those on both sides of the debate have a habit of picking their favorite science to support their positions. The debate rages on and the group with the loudest and most aggressive voice wins.
How else to explain highly conservative states like Utah giving the green light to medical cannabis? So many experts thought that Utah would be one of the last states to fall, if it fell at all. But voters approved a medical cannabis proposition back in 2018. Today, Beehive Farmacy operates medical cannabis dispensaries in Brigham City and Salt Lake City.
In even Utah, medical cannabis proponents have a habit of presenting it as completely harmless while opponents treat marijuana as a threat almost as serious as opioids. There seems to be no common ground for realistic discussion.
The vast majority of Americans support marijuana legalization. But not everyone is on board. There are still plenty of people who think legalization is a bad idea.