A Gallup poll released on Tuesday reveals that for the first time in history, Americans are more in favor of legalizing marijuana than criminalizing it. 2013 has markedly been a successful year for marijuana legalization, with Colorado and Washington both passing laws to decriminalize the drug. Now, 58 percent of Americans are in favor allowing the plant to be legal.
With the majority of Americans agreeing that marijuana should be legalized, we've gathered up eight reasons why those who are still on the fence about the natural plant should possibly reconsider their feelings.
It's time to legalize!
No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose.
You may think having a large amount of THC in your system will kill you, but you are wrong. Ever since marijuana has been known to mankind, not one single account of death from overdose has been recorded. On the other hand, in 2010, 38,329 people died from drug overdoses. Sixty percent of those were related to prescription drugs. In that same year, 25,692 people died from alcohol-related causes.
Around 40% of Americans have already admitted to using marijuana.
Most polls regarding Americans and their pot use hover around the 40% mark for having tried marijuana at least once. This is compared to the 16% of Americans who have tried cocaine, which is obviously a significantly lower percentage. Marijuana is becoming more and more ubiquitous every year despite being less addictive than coffee. There's a reason people are feeling safer and safer trying the drug, which brings us to our next point...
Marijuana is much safer than already legalized drugs.
If you are completely fine with alcohol and cigarettes, then there shouldn't be a reason you aren't accepting of marijuana as well. As you can see from a 2010 study published in the Lancet and reported on by the Economist, a team of drug experts in the U.K. assessed the combined harms to others and to the user of marijuana as less than the harms posed by alcohol or tobacco use. The negative stigma of pot use has certainly made it seem like it's worse, and since using the drug is still illegal, the fact that only people who are willing to break the law will smoke has inevitably made it associated with a "pothead" culture. These are just the preconceived notions we've been brought up in though. A world where instead of drinking cheap beer, a hopeful political candidate can roll a joint to seem like the "people's choice" doesn't have to seem crazy. This scenario would actually be the healthier choice.
Marijuana has a very low risk of abuse.
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is not as addicting as one may think. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, recently wrote in his essay, "Why I Changed My Mind About Weed," that we have been "systematically misled" on marijuana. He reports that marijuana leads to dependence in around 9-10 percent of adult users. Cocaine hooks about 20 percent of its users, and heroin gets 25 percent of its users addicted. The worst culprit is tobacco, with 30 percent of its users becoming addicted.
Cannabis can be a safe and useful sleep aid.
In a blog entry on SFGate, writer David Downs explores the best strains of marijuana to help with insomnia. Downs found a quote from researcher I Feinberg, from "Clinical Pharmacology Therapy" in 1976, that says, "The effect on sleep of THC administration closely resembles those induced by lithium." Also, the National Cancer Institute announced in a study that patients who ingested a cannabis plant extract spray reported more restful sleep.
Marijuana is used to alleviate a lot of medical ailments.
Medical marijuana is important to a lot of people. According to a Discovery Health article, marijuana has been extremely successful in relieving nausea, which is extremely good news for cancer patients suffering from nausea as a side effect of chemotherapy. The drug also helps with people who have loss of appetite due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, it helps relax muscle tension and spasms and chronic pain.
So many extremely successful people smoke marijuana.
Maya Angelou, Martha Stewart, Morgan Freeman, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, and even Rush Limbaugh are all high-functioning marijuana users. Stewart, who is 72 years old, gave an interview with Bravo's Andy Cohen over the summer of 2013 where she talked about "sloppy joints" and flat out said, "Of course I know how to roll a joint." And this isn't just an argument about how the "cool kids" do it and therefore so should you. There are big-time business people, such as Richard Branson, who couldn't have accomplished as much as they have if they were being debilitated by a killer drug. Sure, there is a difference between the marijuana use of a "pothead" and Oprah Winfrey, but we shouldn't continue punishing the moderate users.
It's simply not a gateway drug.
One of the biggest and most widespread arguments from marijuana detractors is that smoking marijuana will lead to using other drugs. As Scientific American points out, the studies that show people who use marijuana first before trying other drugs is correlation and not causation. People who go on to use harder drugs also tend to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol before trying the other substances plus with with our current stigma on pot only people who are predisposed to being a "outlaw drug user" are going to smoke pot. On top of all of this, as mentioned above, nearly half the country has already tried pot which is more than how many Americans know who Jennifer Lawrence is and much much more than the percentage of Americans who are left-handed.
Clarification: Language has been amended to more precisely describe the 2010 study of drug harms in the U.K.