The United States has had a very complicated history with cannabis. While “stoner culture” was joked about light heartedly in media and entertainment, marijuana... Livin’ Legal: How Legalizing Weed Has Positively Affected The Public

The United States has had a very complicated history with cannabis. While “stoner culture” was joked about light heartedly in media and entertainment, marijuana was simultaneously scheduled as a level 1 narcotic along with some of the most dangerous and addictive drugs available. This dichotomy left us feeling conflicted, confused, and sometimes even frightened about the substance. After being legalized in many states, there are a lot of things that we’ve learned about marijuana, it’s effects and uses. Let’s take a quick look the changes these legalizations have made.

MEDICAL PROGRESS

For the longest time, the use of marijuana and derivative products of cannabis was so tightly regulated that it was only available to patients with debilitating diseases and ailments. In places that cannabis has been legalized we have discovered that it can be used for a myriad of common conditions. It can even be used in some cases as a replacement for certain anti-anxiety remedies. People are now able to treat certain symptoms and conditions with a readily available medication that often has fewer side effects and less long term damage potential than typical prescription drugs. In some cases, cannabis is arguably the safer option for treatment.

LEGAL CLARITY

Millions of arrests were made on the grounds of cannabis possession and consumption before it’s varied degrees of legalization. The criminal justice system even made marijuana a specific target in the “war on drugs”. The natural, organic substance was so tightly regulated that even research about it was severely limited. To the point that even having it for medical and research purposes was prohibited by all but one federally controlled research facility. Now that it has been legalized in some areas, the truth about marijuana is finally coming out. It can now be properly and thoroughly researched, which makes it easier for lawmakers and officials to make and enforce laws that make sense for what cannabis actually does, rather than creating regulations based on inflated fears and total falsehoods. Our justice system is finally allowed the information it needs to make reasonable decisions from an informed position rather than relying on extremely limited and insufficient information brought by a single source.

SOCIAL DESTIGMATIZATION

Perhaps the most apparent and important change regarding marijuana since it’s legalization has been the public’s attitude toward it. Where marijuana use to once be the symbol of degenerate behavior, it is now seen as anything from life saving medication to a recreation worth indulging in every now and again. It is no longer a drug for burnouts, but rather as a happy part of people’s lives and experiences. People of all ages and walks of life now finally have the freedom to try a substance that was once strictly prohibited, and they are. Without the need to live in fear, people are exploring all kinds of ways cannabis can improve their life.

There is still a lot to be discovered about cannabis. Different products and uses are still being discovered for many of the chemical compounds found throughout the cannabis plant. But even what we have discovered thus far has disproven myths and eased public fears about consuming cannabis. Now that we know more about marijuana and its effects it has given the general public the confidence to medicate the way they need to and indulge where they see fit. Legalization may not have been an easy process for many states, but if tax revenue and consumer sales are any indication, it is a decision most citizens are extremely satisfied with.

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