Legalizing Marijuana Is Part Of The Opioid Solution
It is time for us to face reality, admit our mistakes, and restructure our policies to meet the needs of 21st Century Americans. By legalizing marijuana, we can begin to end the failed “war on drugs” and its racial disparity, tackle the immediate opioid crisis, more effectively meet the public health needs of our nation, cut down on crime, and generate public revenue. Legalizing cannabis in all its forms makes sense, and according to a Gallup Poll from October 2017 (news.gallup.com/poll/221018/), 64% of Americans agree.
In 2016, 1.5 million people were arrested for drug-related offenses, more than 80% for possession alone. Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world. And the color of your skin is a determinate of the likelihood of your incarceration for drugs. According to the ACLU, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite similar usage rates. It is time to fix our broken drugs laws and end the failed War on Drugs so we can treat addiction as a health problem and begin to end this vehicle for racial injustice.
Opioid overdose has risen dramatically over the past 15 years and is implicated in the deaths of 90 Americans each day. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (4/2/18), states that allowed cannabis for medical purposes (under Medicare Part D) had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year. Marijuana is effective in treating chronic pain, as well as certain medical and mental health conditions often medicated with opiates. And marijuana has little addiction potential and no history of causing overdose. Opioid addiction and overdose rates can be reduced significantly with the legalization of marijuana/cannabis.
We can help law enforcement cut down on crime by eliminating the black market for marijuana. We can take much of the $50 billion spent yearly on the war on drugs and invest it in people by providing better prevention and treatment of opioid addiction. We can also generate upwards of $132 billion in federal tax revenue and create more than a million new jobs over the next decade by legalizing and regulating marijuana.
36% of all high school students have smoked marijuana in the past year; obviously, the illegality of marijuana has done nothing to stop its usage. As public opinion has changed with time, as illustrated by marijuana’s 12% approval rating in 1969 compared with 64% approval rating in 2017, so must our public policies change. Let us solve problems, generate public revenue, and meet the needs of people as we progress to a more humane and just nation.