First of all, I would like to say that for my first post fully exploring the effects of legalization, this one will be less technically based. The numbers and statistical analysis should eventually speak for themselves, but for now I would like to explore the legal history and social perceptions of marijuana in the country.
Did you know that just over one hundred years ago weed was totally legal in this country? It was looked at just as harmlessly as any other plant or vegetation one may possess. Or how about that the declaration of independence was written on hemp paper? Yes the views on weed certainly have changed in the past century, but when did Mary turn into the green monster that it is seen as today?
This first signs of legislation against cannabis began in a few states in the early 1900's. By the 1930's it was regulated in every state. This was due to a combination of racism against immigrants and Mexican workers who enjoyed to smoke reefer to relax after work, and hard lobbying by the paper industry for fear of hemp paper encroaching on its market share. Cannabis was still not seen as a silent killer that would destroy your children or cause them to abuse many other intoxicants. If fact, as we now know, marijuana is not an intoxicant at all. An intoxicant refutes to a substance that alters the state of mind through mild poisons, such as psychedelic mushrooms or even alcohol. THC alters the state of mind by replicating chemicals that are produced in the brain naturally in smaller levels.
So where did the switch happen? In truth the change was not that long ago. In 1970 under the Nixon administration, the Controlled Substances Act was enacted and the war on drugs was on. Cannabis was from then on seen as a gateway drug that would destroy the lives of millions of teens and lead to a widespread drug epidemic. The legislation classified it as having a high risk for abuse, no medicinal use, and that it was not safe to use even under medical supervision.
This smear campaign against cannabis is slowly getting reversed. Since the controlled substances act, almost 15 states have ratified some form of legal medical use for marijuana, and the general public's view on the substance has gradually softened. California already allows dispensaries for patients to go get their medication without visiting the doctor or filling out a prescription every time.
In fact, the NORML organization recently posted a study that says that nationally, 51% of adults believe weed is less dangerous than alcohol. Now if this percentage does not increase when it is restricted to Californians, then I might as well just stop blogging now... But, provided that the study's results are the same for California, that means that over half of the voters in the state believe this illegal substance is less dangerous than a legal substance. Even more is that only 19% of the adults nationally believe that pot is the more dangerous of the two. The NORML web sight also reported on the Government's official survey on drug usage. This survey is conducted by having Government officials inquire about normal citizens illicit drug use.
Can you see a problem with this method?!
The survey reports having a 30%-50% under reporting to the representatives on the actually amount of alcohol and cigarettes consumed. Now if this is how much people wanted to hide their usage of two legal substances, think about how much the numbers on cannabis usage were deflated. Even still, the Government reports that by age 25, 54% of Americans will have used Marijuana. Almost 20% today still use it at least annually and 10% reporting that they use it regularly. This same report claims that less than 15% of Americans have ever tried cocaine.
The weed propaganda is gradually being overturned and now people are starting to realize the minuscule dangers that come along with cannabis usage. If people already know the dangers of weed and agree that they are less than that of a legal substance, and over half of these people are going to use cannabis at some point weather it is legal or not, then I say why isn't it legalized for the people because the majority clearly want it to be? Isn't that how this whole representatives of the people thing works? I say there shouldn't have to be financial incentives or an economic crisis to spur the re-legalization of marijuana if it is clearly what the people want. But if you want to call me and idealist....then ill give you all the incentives and economic figures to back up the People's Plan in the coming weeks.