Change is happening across the United States.

It is emanating from our society itself following the fall of the legal “iron curtain” that was imposed upon cannabis for many generations.  Consequently, we grew up with legal stigmatization towards cannabis and its use. The existing laws that misdefined, miscategorized and misinterpreted the plant have had a lingering impact on our minds. However, the tide is changing, leading to calls for legalization across many states and at the federal level.

But what is driving this call for the legalization? In the remaining sections of our post, I will show you the underlying forces behind the push to legalize and decriminalize cannabis. So, I welcome you to be my guest as we explore these underlying factors.

The Failed War on Drugs

Every American citizen has a rough idea of the war on drugs. People who lived through the 1970s and 1980s can remember drug-related figures like Noriega and Carlos The Jackal. These two men remind us of the war against drugs our government initiated and fought vigorously. We can also understand the many ways that this war failed miserably.

The lost war on cannabis has produced a massive black market criminal gangs have exploited to fund violent crimes. Consequently, increased crime has led to an explosion in the number of inmates in our correctional system. The United States houses more prisoners than any other country in the world. Billions are spent maintaining prisons and caring for inmates; many of whom are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses. However, we could have avoided this self-inflicted wound if we had control measures in place. Despite the efforts to fight cannabis in the U.S., millions of Americans still use consume it and deem it safer than alcohol and cigarettes, which are legal.

The implications of the lost war on cannabis and other drugs are so clear that even anti-legalization proponents cannot deny them. Still, the slippery slope of legalization remains their greatest concern. Opponents commonly cite the possibility of its abuse as the primary reason behind their opposition. However,very few of them of them is are calling for the banning of alcohol and cigarettes, which have already killed tens of millions of users worldwide.Thankfully, many people long opposed to cannabis are beginning to favor legalization for medical use.

Conversely, proponents hold that legalizing the plant could cut off the criminal gangs behind its black market and end the arrest of peaceful and moderate cannabis users. Less would be spent on drug enforcement and incarcerations, and communities would benefit from income and taxes surrounding a new, legal industry.

Public Support

The second factor underlying the legalization debate and push is the support of the American public. Many Americans now favor the legalization of the plant. For instance, different surveys reveal that the number of Americans who support cannabis legalization has risen from 12 percent in 1969 to 64 percent in 2017. Moreover, these studies indicate that the support cuts across all age groups. Millennials often lead the support brackets with more than two thirds of them supporting its legalization while the older generation shows the lowest support.

Moreover, this shift in public perception cuts across the political divide. For example, the studies conducted do not show any major differences among republicans or democrats. One of the reasons behind this universal agreement is that its effects are the same across states that have legalized it. For example, the reduction of cannabis-related arrests has saved states billions of dollars that could have funded arrests, prosecution, and prison maintenance.

The Consequences of Prohibition

Lastly, the cost of prohibition drives the push for legalization. The reason is that banning cannabis has only produced more undesirable and preventable consequences. Some of them are:

  • The surrendering of its production and distribution to criminal gangs
  • Underage users can access it easier than they access alcohol and cigarette since these two are regulated
  • Unregulated use of the drug in the wrong places
  • A deep-seated disrespect for the law
  • A resentful divide between the public and law enforcers

Final Thoughts

Three main factors drive the push for the legalization of cannabis in the U.S.—The increasing public support, the lost war on drugs and the consequences of prohibition. The stigma is quickly fading and past assumptions are reversing as people learn about the many benefits of the plant. The tide is indeed changing.  And the concepts discussed above will continue to be strong factors in changing society’s views on legalization.