We've come to a crossroads in our research into the benefits of cannabis that leaves those who still support prohibition comparable to creationists and climate change deniers. None of the reasons given for maintaining prohibition pass the logic test, much less the sniff test, and continuing to push such intellectually dishonest reasoning destroys any credibility a politician could have hoped to still have.
According to a Pew Research survey released this week 69% of Americans believe Marijuana to be safer than alcohol with 54% favoring full legalization. The survey also says that 54% believe legalization will lead to more kids trying marijuana, which defies logic and common sense, but that is what the politicians and police advocates are wanting people to believe. The cold hard fact is that marijuana is the easiest thing in the world for a teenager to get their hands on in the black market, so this danger is utterly ridiculous.
The truth is, even with public sentiment growing there is still a lot of misinformation floating around, some of it purposely and some of it left over from the brainwashing we went through as kids growing up during the Drug War. Here we're going to try to lay out the reasons to support legalization while dispelling any myths we can along the way.
Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco
It is true that marijuana is far safer than both alcohol and tobacco, as 54% of Americans now believe. That number has been growing (up from 52% this time last year) as more medical studies are brought to light and it becomes more socially acceptable to admit the truth.
Marijuana has 0 (zero) deaths attributed to it by official sources. That's monthly, annually, or ever, however you want to look at it. Marijuana just doesn't kill people.
Police fear crime will rise
Police don't really fear that crime will rise if marijuana is legalized. They fear their budgets will shrink.
But it isn't just a matter of needing the crime to justify their budgets. Police departments also get a lot of their toys from asset forfeiture. That's when police steal anything they want to from a person suspected of a drug-related crime.
In most parts of the U.S. a conviction isn't even necessary. They will take off with cash and vehicles without even pressing charges. When the federal law regarding marijuana changes, this will also have to change.
Police don't like that at all.
Not enough is known to legalize it yet
Not only do we know that there is no reason to prohibit marijuana use by adults, we know that there was never a good reason to criminalize the herb to begin with.
In 1972 The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, which was tasked with studying the effects of marijuana in preparation for Nixon's War on Drugs.
What they found was there "is little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of the natural preparations of cannabis."
The Commission also found that "the use of drugs for pleasure or other non-medical purposes is not inherently irresponsible." Scientists just aren't puritanical enough to keep our right-wingers happy.
Kids and public safety
We do still have a major public perception problem to deal with if 54% still believe legalization will give kids more access to marijuana. Common sense should tell us all that the opposite is true.
The problem is a lot of people don't understand how readily available marijuana already is. Right now a teenager can buy a joint easier than they can buy a beer.
In fact, if you're looking for marijuana in a place where it is yet to be legalized, your best bet is to ask a high school kid. Any neighborhood will do, rich or poor, black or white.
What you will find is that most of them know how to get it even if they don't partake, personally, and they can get it as easily as you could run to the store for a six-pack.
Legalization and regulation will make it more difficult, not easier, for kids to get their hands on marijuana.
Not enough is known about marijuana's medicinal properties
More is known about the safety and potential benefits of marijuana than any herbal supplement you can buy without a prescription at the pharmacy.
The FDA doesn't recognize marijuana as a beneficial medicine yet? So what? The don't recognize St. John's Wort or melatonin either, but you can still buy them on a whim.