Implication of Legalization of Cannabis
To legalize cannabis creates both opportunities and challenges. Advocates believe it will reduce crime and lower its expenditures, improve public health, provide a boost to the economy and raise tax revenues. Critics argue it will increase crime, weaken traffic safety, multiply other drug and alcohol use and actually harm public health. Encouraging more study into marijuana’s effects is incredibly difficult, according to scientists, because of federal regulations. Currently, only 6% of studies on marijuana analyze its medicinal properties. According to the DPA report, the example of Colorado and Washington, (where it has been legalized since 2012), show things have not gotten worse, however, they are still sorting out policy details.
It is enticing to envision Cannabis as providing a myriad of health benefits from aiding in seizure disorders to overcoming PTSD and chronic pain relief. Generating a much needed economic boost into a country that seems to be in a perpetual state of recovery, the tax revenue from the Cannabis market will far outweigh the cost of maintaining its yearly regulation. Colorado and Washington have enjoyed revenue from taxing and selling Cannabis, of 129$ and 220% million respectively, those figures are only from its second year of legalization.
Opponents of legalization and the consequences of its use make some bold predictions, that to date, have largely been unsupported by the available research data. It is important to note that insufficient time has passed, even since the first legalizations, to deduce any solid conclusions.
The Cannabis industry is up against quite a bit when it comes to legalization. One of the biggest hurdles is that it is illegal at the federal level. Banking issues will emerge as they must comply with federal regulations, and if they do accept cash from marijuana companies, they will have to take many steps to ensure they are in compliance, or risk losing their charter. Eight states allow recreational use of marijuana, half of all U.S. states have legalized it for medicinal use and twenty-one states have decriminalized the drug. According to the Quinnipiac poll, a whopping 71% of voters think the government should not enforce federal drug laws where marijuana is legal.
The issue of legalization so is complex, it would be good to see different levels of law enforcement, treatment and strategies for education coming together to combat some of the apprehension associated with a federally legal Cannabis market. When it comes to regulation, there is much to consider, such as what rules will need to be set? Which shops can sell and where? Is selling food and candy associated with marijuana up for debate as well? The Cannabis edibles market can be one of the industry’s largest revenue streams.
There is the ‘drug driving’ debate to consider, and how to set limits when it cannot easily be quantified. Along with regulation, there should be harm reduction measures, transparency with manufacturing and quality control/assurance as well, to get rid of the unknown. With public health being a major consideration, it is important that a user be educated and buy from a legal source, other than the illicit market. These are all important issues to consider when debating its pros and cons.
Censorship is another important concern surrounding the impact of legalization, as media coverage will certainly expand along with the Cannabis market’s growth. Connecting companies, publications and content, will come tied to policy and the laws of the media platforms on which they may be presented or advertised. One of the latest developments are in California, a bill that has advanced through the legislative committee and is now being considered by the full Assembly, would ban online Cannabis ads that target minors or people under 21 years of age. However, publishers want to be certain that they will not be liable for the advertisers content and that the law is to apply more to the advertisers themselves. When it comes to website operators, they would have to take careful action to not market a product toward those under 21. This remains a controversial topic, not because anyone necessarily disagrees with not targeting Cannabis to minors, but because it could come awfully close to censorship.
A dying stigma and a growing acceptance of the Cannabis market has led to 7$ billion in sales in North America in 2016, and according to Arcview Market Research, by 2021 that number climbs to 22$ billion. Clearly, the green rush is here and is showing no signs of slowing down.