This archived article was written by: Renato Magalhaes
The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first of a series of consumer protection laws that included cannabis, claiming it was an addictive and dangerous drug. Since then, the whole industry – including textile, pharmaceutical and recreational – nourished by this plant began to disappear in the United States.
In 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, listing marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of the same year. In this category, drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use and lack of accepted use safety.
Incredibly, drugs like heroin, ecstasy and etorphine (which contains an extremely fatal analgesic potency approximately 40,000 times that of morphine) fall in the same classification.
If the main point of these protection laws is to protect the consumer, most illicit drugs regularly in circulation show they are not as harmful as they seem at first place. Perhaps regulated ones should be evaluated. For example, cigarette smoking is estimated to cause more than 480,000 deaths annually as stated in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, which included deaths from secondhand smoke.
Another 88,000 mortalities are estimated to be caused by alcohol annually, comprising also driving fatalities, as reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. These two drugs alone lead to approximately 570,000 deaths a year in the country.
On the other hand, cocaine (6,784) and heroin (12,989) together did not exceed 20,000 deaths in 2015 according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Even though the objective of the article is not to argue around the decriminalization or legalization of other drugs; this is a concerning fact around what we frequently find at the stores.
Much has been discussed in the past about legalization of marijuana. As of today, eight states have changed their laws to assure the medical and recreational use, possession, sale and cultivation of the stimulant. Some states allow the same for medical use only; others are stricter.
Colorado was the first state to fully legalize marijuana in the country and offers a positive perspective. Legal cannabis created over 18,000 full-time jobs as reported by the Marijuana Policy Group, a Denver-based economic and market research firm.
This helped decrease unemployment from 5.9 – in January 2014 – to 4.1 – in January 2015 – according to data from the Department of Labor, and added about $ 2.39 billion to the state’s economy during the first year of legalization.
Colorado has proven that the new policy enhances a more accurate approach on the drug: researches have been conducted to understand how marijuana impacts driving, how long it stays in the breast milk of nursing mothers, the adverse effects of edible cannabis products and the cardiovascular risks of the drug in people with heart problems, for example. Colorado’s Health Department announced $ 2.35 million in grants to researchers who help to develop these experiments.
Another result that was probably influenced by legalization was the decrease of marijuana seizures at the Southwest border of the U.S., pointing for a weakening Mexican cartels predominance.
Many elements influence this. One of them is the drug quality. The Drug Enforcement Administration claimed in its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment that “the quality of marijuana produced in Mexico and the Caribbean is thought to be inferior to the marijuana produced in the U.S. or in Canada.” Mexican and other Latin American producers struggle to overcome the competition against a business that is within the law and regulations, equipped to supply the demand in a more reliable environment.
Certainly, other factors impact on it, but it is important to highlight that the data gathered by the U. S. Border Patrol shows that seizures in 2015 were the lowest ever recorded with approximately 1.5 million pounds of the drug, while 2009 registered the biggest amount of nearly four million pounds.
Besides this, legalization leads to a better understanding of the drug and how useful and beneficial it can be for different purposes, mainly medically. Step by step, biases are pushed away. Considerably, researches are coming for good. Step by step, new discoveries are made, showing what are the best choices. The aspect that is clear now is that prohibiting a drug like this has just given more harm than good.
It is important to pursue the profits of both recreational and medical marijuana and realize there is much more to study, to explore and to get from opening this market. The war on drugs showed government should not pass laws that cannot be enforced. Utah should follow its neighbors.