The United States is beginning to edge towards radically changing the way that it sees marijuana. Already, several states have legalized medical marijuana and a handful of states have legalized recreational cannabis. Despite the efforts of drug-war adherent Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Republican Senator Dana Rohrabacher of California says that the Trump administration has plans to address marijuana reform on a federal level.
Even with the possibility of rescheduling cannabis, which is currently a Schedule I drug, many people still have questions. Marijuana has been illegal for decades and there is a lot of misinformation about it.
Where is it legal to smoke and buy marijuana?
Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and medical marijuana is legal in thirty states. While California was the first to legalize marijuana for medical use, the first state to legalize it for recreational use was Colorado, followed shortly by Washington. Business Insider has a helpful map that shows where cannabis is legal and whether it is solely legal for medical use or legal for recreational use as well.
Isn’t marijuana generally harmless?
When comparing marijuana to other substances, like tobacco and other illicit drugs, one might be tempted to brush off marijuana as generally harmless. While it is true that the risks compared to other substances are lower, they are not quite negated. Heavy smokers may develop respiratory symptoms like bronchitis. Vaping using devices like a vape pen can help to reduce even those risks. There are other risks, as well, especially for pregnant women and those with a heart condition.
Is marijuana addictive?
In short, yes, marijuana can be addictive. However, it has a relatively low incidence of addiction of 9% or fewer than 1 of every 10 users. This is lower than opiates, cocaine, and alcohol. It also takes longer for a marijuana dependence to develop, often not happening until years after use begins. Commonly experienced symptoms of withdrawal from marijuana include chills, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and cravings.
Legal weed prices
In the states that have legalized recreational weed, it saw a drop in price before stabilizing. On average, 1 gram of marijuana in legal states costs about $14. An entire ounce will cost, on average, just under $250. These prices are about 30% higher than the prices in Canada, which just recently legalized cannabis nationwide.
Arguments against legalizing marijuana
One of the major arguments is that legalization will lead to more use, particularly among teens. States that have legalized, however, have set the age in which a person can legally but at 21, the same as alcohol. There is also concern that for-profit businesses such as dispensaries will market and set up shop in areas with the most problematic users. Another argument against marijuana legalization lies in the fear that it will lead to increased driving while intoxicated incidents.
U.S. trends in marijuana use
While opponents of marijuana legalization say that it would lead to increased use, statistics generally negate this claim. One study indicates that the incidence of increased use may not be related to legalization at all. Researchers at the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group found that instead of relating to policy changes, the sharp increase in marijuana use is down to societal trends. In general, acceptance of marijuana use is up, which may be the reason behind the increase in use. In addition, for the first time since the Gallup poll began in the 1960s, a majority of conservatives – 51% support legalization efforts.
The question of legalization is still contentious and hotly debated. With our northern neighbor having legalized nationally, it may only be a matter of time before we begin to see policy changes on a national level here in the United States. While the Trump administration does say that they are considering removing cannabis from its schedule I status, it also said that it would still leave it to states to decide how that is implemented within their borders.
Author bio: Michael Jacobs is a marketing and creative content specialist at with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.