If you’re one of the 52% of Americans who have tried marijuana at some point in your life, you are aware of the negative connotations that can come with it. Although 11 states have legalized recreational use and 33 states have legalized medicinal use of cannabis, many feel a need to hide their consumption due to misinformation and the social stigmas surrounding it.
Much like the prohibition era in regard to alcohol, marijuana consumption remains at a steady pace despite still being illegal under federal law. Navigating the everchanging laws surrounding pot can be a difficult task particularly when it comes to state vs. federal jurisdiction. Supporters of legalization argue that their Tenth Amendment rights are in direct violation.
The Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively.”
The Constitution permits certain authorities to the States to serve as a form of checks and balances to ensure that the Federal government does not amass too much power. Due to the confusion of legality regarding weed, if you are looking to jump into the industry, it is wise to obtain consultants in the space that have familiarized themselves with current local, state and federal laws.
A recent study by Gallop concluded that roughly 66% of Americans agree marijuana should be made legal. Apart from its health benefits from fighting chronic pain to helping control epileptic seizures, cannabis generates a huge amount of tax revenue. In just 5 years of Colorado legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana, the state has generated over 1 billion dollars in tax revenue. On top of that, the pot industry has provided such an overabundance of employment that it is now projected to provide more jobs than Manufacturing by 2020.
So why is it that a natural product that can provide hundreds of thousands of jobs, generate billions in tax revenue and have exponential health benefits be viewed so negatively?
The answer is simple. Years upon years of anti-drug propaganda that has been ingrained into us since adolescence. We all grew up in the “anti-drug” campaign era where we were told marijuana was a gateway drug that would turn our brains into fried eggs and eventually lead to greater addictions of other controlled substances.
When people buy cigarettes or alcohol, they are not fearful of being caught with it yet there is not one medical benefit of indulging in either. Turn on any television channel and you will be inundated with alcohol commercials even though studies have shown drinking can lead to liver disease, cancer, heart disease and violent behavior.
Unlike prescription medication, alcohol or cigarettes; cannabis helps manage chronic pain without the potential side effects of an overdose or addiction.
So, what does the average pot user look like? A couple decades ago, one would describe the average user as lazy, unemployed and unmotivated. However, based on today’s users, there is not just one answer for this question. A typical user could be a Grandmother dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, a teenage boy suffering from epileptic seizures, a Veteran managing PTSD or even a CEO of a multi-million-dollar company just looking to unwind at the end of the day. There are even multiple ways to take marijuana; from the traditional method of smoking, to eating and drinking to even applying it to your skin in the form of a lotion.
Breaking the social stigma of marijuana starts with how each one of us converse about its place in society. We all need to stop viewing cannabis as something “evil” and recognize the multiple studies that have proven its conclusive health benefits. Marijuana consumption should be viewed no differently than having a glass of wine or drinking a cup of coffee. Once we embrace the benefits and declassify the negative stereotypes of cannabis, only then can we truly except marijuana consumption as our social norm.