Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is the product of a plant called Cannabis Indica or Cannabis Sativa. It is usually in the form of dried stems, leaves, seeds, or stems. The product contains a chemical substance called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that has wide applications in medicine, especially in treating cancer and pain management. However, THC is highly mind-altering and addictive, which has led to its abuse by many youths globally. Its effects on the youth have been the main reason marijuana is illegal across many jurisdictions. There has been a long-standing debate about whether the product should be legalized, given its desired medicinal value. In the following sections of this paper, I seek to discuss whether state or federal laws pertaining to marijuana need to be changed. Increased research activities and clinical trials on the medical value of marijuana largely raise the need to change the laws to accommodate the emerging benefits of the product.
For many years any the conversation about the legalization of marijuana, even for use in medicine, has been controversial and has been met with strong resistance. However, in recent times, there has been a growing trend towards the relaxation of laws to permit the use of marijuana in medicine and for recreational purposes. Even as there are critics who oppose the need to change state and federal laws regarding marijuana, the trend seems unstoppable as more people advocate for the large-scale use of the product. In 2022 many states continue to relax their legal stand on marijuana as research shows wide-ranging uses of hemp, THC, and CBD contained in marijuana.
In particular, 37 states, along with 4 United States territories and the District of Columbia, have embraced the use of marijuana, with 13 states and one territory decriminalizing its use (Sennott et al., 2022). In addition, 11 states, the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA), and the 2018 Farm Bill have relaxed the laws to permit the use of marijuana products in medicine, especially those having a high composition of cannabis-derived cannabidiol (CBD) and low proportion of THC.
It is expected that more states will see the need to relax their legal position on the use of marijuana, with Kansas, Idaho, and Nebraska being the only three states where marijuana cannot be used in any form. Similarly, the restricted federal laws on the use of marijuana may be relaxed as a way of easing the complicated business of handling marijuana encounters. The 2018 Farm Bill eased hemp trade restrictions, but the federal law still classifies psychotropic marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Marijuana is categorized with heroin and LSD, meaning that businesses in the cannabis-related space are entangled in legal complications (He et al., 2022).
Even in states that allow for the use of marijuana in medicine and recreation, businesses find difficulties relating to the production, financing, shipment, and sale of cannabis products. For instance, banking institutions that support businesses dealing in marijuana products may be accused of money laundering under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) of 1970 and risk overstepping the Controlled Substances Act. The challenge provides a difficult business environment and hesitation for financial institutions to avail financing services to cannabis companies.
Additionally, an enabling business environment will improve the economy of the different states and the federal government. The marijuana business is highly profitable, which means it can generate huge amounts of revenue amid the increasing demand for marijuana. Relaxation of laws about marijuana will attract massive investments in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in the production of cannabinoids. The United States will become a leading global large-scale producer of cannabinoids for local consumption and export. The industries will also open up different employment opportunities for the American people, which will help reduce the unemployment rate made worse during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, British Columbia, which has legalized marijuana, earns more than CDN$34 billion per year in the trade showing the possible gain for the United States.
Furthermore, the business can improve the economy through savings of external and internal expenses. It will enable the state and federal governments to reduce expenses incurred in law enforcement. Law enforcement officers spend enormous resources investigating crimes involving marijuana that could be diverted to better use. It is also damaging to individuals arrested for marijuana-related crimes as they are faced as bad criminals in society, which negatively affects their future life and integration in society. Apart from the savings, the governments will also benefit from increased tax collections as the marijuana market grows. According to He et al. (2022), states with cannabis relaxed laws to the trade in cannabis collected over $3.7 billion in taxes in 2021, representing a 34% gain over 2020. Therefore, an invariant legal and regulatory terrain will help maintain the expanding industry’s impetus.
There is a need for laws to allow for the controlled use of marijuana in treating specific medical conditions. The opportunity will allow suffering patients to purchase the drugs they need from approved pharmacies based on prescriptions from certified medical professionals. According to Tawfik et al. (2019), marijuana products effectively manage different ailments, including glaucoma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and posttraumatic stress disorder. It helps manage pain and the side effects of chemotherapy, particularly vomiting and nausea. Medicinal Marijuana can further contain patient-reported spasticity signs in those with multiple sclerosis.
The public perception towards marijuana has changed as people become more enlightened regarding its benefits. Most people have changed their attitudes and are now advocating for its legalization. The public now appreciates that marijuana is less harmful than other legalized substances, such as alcohol and some prescription drugs, including opioids. Despite being legal, alcoholic substances cause more harm to a person and the wider society than cannabis. As such, states and the federal government should relax laws on marijuana for recreational purposes, which seems highly unjustified or even insincere, given that many Americans constantly and freely consume alcoholic drinks.
In conclusion, there is a strong and growing need to relax laws on marijuana. Most American states have followed the trend, and the federal government has created an opportunity to use marijuana products, albeit it remains largely restricted. The need to legalize marijuana emanates from its benefit to society in many ways. It has shown the potential to improve economic growth by opening more industries that expand business opportunities for financial institutions and create jobs for the unemployed population. The government seeks to benefit from increased tax collections and savings in law enforcement. Individuals and society will benefit from a healthier population as marijuana has numerous medical applications. Marijuana is also safe to consume for recreational purposes compared to some currently legalized products, such as alcohol.
He, Z., Taylor, T., Andersen, M., & Whitney, B. (2022). A Census of the Green Economy: Measuring Marijuana Employment, Businesses, and Payroll in Four States. SSRN Electronic Journal. Web.
Sennott, C., Lindsay, S. L., Kelly, B. C., & Vuolo, M. (2022). The Liberalization of Cannabis Possession Laws and Birth Outcomes: A State-Level Fixed Effects Analysis, 2003–2019. Population Research and Policy Review. Web.
Tawfik, G. M., Hashan, M. R., Abdelaal, A., Tieu, T. M., & Huy, N. T. (2019). A commentary on the medicinal use of marijuana. Tropical Medicine and Health, 47(1). Web.