1. Economic costs

a. Expensive cost of prohibition

i. Enforcement of marijuana laws costs the US more than $7.7 billion per year.[1]

ii. Nearly 850,000 Americans are arrested per year for marijuana[2] - more than for all violent crimes combined[2] - and more than all other illicit drug arrests combined.[2]

iii. With limited resources, government should focus police and resources on violent crimes such as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, murder, sexual abuse of children, and terrorism.

b. Revenue from taxation

i. Legalization and taxation will generate an estimated $6.2 billion per year in tax revenue.[1]

ii. Marijuana is the largest cash crop in the US,[6] and yet, it's left unregulated and untaxed (see figure 3.3).

iii. Marijuana's illegality makes foreign cultivation and smuggling to the United States extremely profitable, sending billions of dollars overseas in an underground economy, while diverting funds and job creation away from domestic economic development.

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2. Medicinal benefits

a. Marijuana can treat many medical conditions successfully

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Pain
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Seizures

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia among older people, affects more than 5 million Americans. It is an irreversible and progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease and there is no proven treatment to slow its progression. However, doctors commonly prescribe several medicines that may help improve the mental function of people with Alzheimer's disease, such as donepezil and tacrine. However, new research shows that medical cannabis may prevent the formation of deposits in the brain associated with the degenerative disease, and that marijuana is one of the most effective medications for Alzheimer’s disease.

For example, in an article titled "A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology," published in Molecular Pharmaceutics, Lisa M. Eubanks, PhD (Staff Scientist at the Scripps Research Institute and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology) reported that THC is a considerably more effective inhibitor than the approved drugs for Alzheimer's disease treatment, donepezil and tacrine. Furthermore, she stated that “THC and its analogues may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease [by] simultaneously treating both the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's disease."

Another researcher, Maria L. de Ceballos, PhD, Group Leader in the Department of Neural Plasticity at the Cajal Institute in Spain, found in a recent marijuana study that the cannabinoid receptors found in marijuana are important in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease and that cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord that afflicts 5,000 Americans annually. Because ALS interferes with the brain’s ability to initiate and control muscle movement, the disease hinders all types of movement, including speech, swallowing and breathing. Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed, and 100% of ALS cases result in death.

Currently, there is no cure for ALS and there is no treatment available to reverse the disease’s effects on the body. According to the ALS Association, the mean survival rate for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the US is three to five years. There is only one FDA approved drug for ALS called riluzole, which can extend life by about 2 months on average. However, research shows that medical marijuana can be an effective way to alleviate some ALS symptoms, slow the progress of the disease and extend the lives of ALS patients.

Research recently conducted by the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco shows that select marijuana compounds, including THC, significantly slow the disease process and could extend life by three years or more. This same research group found that THC can also alleviate some ALS symptoms, like muscle spasms, in patients.

Millions of Americans suffer from arthritis, the most common cause of disability in America. And as the baby boomer generation ages, the prevalence of arthritis will continue to climb.

Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation, and is frequently accompanied by joint pain. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The types range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage, such as osteoarthritis, to those associated with inflammation resulting from an overactive immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Together, the many types of arthritis make up the most common chronic illness in the United States, which costs patients billions of dollars. For example, according to a Stanford University study titled "The economic impact of arthritis," patients with arthritis collectively incur over $56 billion in medical expenditures and work loss every year.

Currently, more than 100 medications and drugs are used in the treatment of arthritis. Many of these drugs, however, can cause serious side effects. Many patients who suffer from arthritis have opted instead to use medical marijuana, which is an affordable, natural alternative that lacks the side effects found in the medicines traditionally used to treat arthritis. These patients have seen excellent results with medical marijuana, with improved movement, less pain, and less use of other medications.

Recent research has shown that medicinal marijuana can be an effective alternative arthritis treatment. For example, the Journal of Neuroimmunology stated in a 2005 article titled "Cannabinoids and the Immune System: Potential For the Treatment of Inflammatory Diseases?" by J. Ludovic and Takashi Yamamura, that cannabinoids may be considered for treatment of inflammatory disease such as arthritis.

Additionally, Ethan Russo, MD, Senior Medical Advisor at the Cannabinoid Research Institute, stated in a 2005 Americans for Safe Access brochure titled "Arthritis and Medical Marijuana":

Science has now demonstrated that the THC component of cannabis is a very effective analgesic (pain killer), and that the CBD (cannabidiol) component has unique immunomodulatory benefits as an antagonist of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, supporting benefits in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Millions of Americans are afflicted with cancer, the nation's second-leading cause of death. There are more than 100 types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and lymphoma. Treatment options for cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which are often harsh and cause severe side effects.

Studies spanning more than three decades show that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for symptoms of cancer as well as the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. THC (the main chemical component in marijuana) is a natural antiemetic which has been shown to help decrease the pain associated with many types of cancer and chemotherapy agents. THC can also help battle chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).

What’s more, recent research has shown that medical marijuana has cancer-fighting properties. According to more than eighteen major studies published between 2001 and 2003, cannabinoids have a significant effect fighting cancer cells and have also been shown to exhibit anti-tumor properties.

Millions of people around the world suffer everyday from chronic pain. The World Health Organization estimates that 20% of people worldwide have some form of chronic pain. This includes Fibromyalgia, Back Pain, Neck Pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, TMJ Disorder, Sciatica and more.

According to pharmaceutical industry data, pain is a $13.2 billion market. Not only is pain medicine costly, chronic pain is often the cause of lost wages. In the US, it is estimated that over 140 million days are lost to work because of back pain. The annual totals of both direct and indirect costs for chronic pain in the US are estimated to be as high as $294.5 billion per year. This means the costs of health care for patients with chronic pain might exceed the combined costs of treating patients with coronary artery disease, cancer, and AIDS.

Severe chronic pain is often treated with opioid narcotics, such as Vicodin and Percocet, and analgesics, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Opiates and narcotics are effective in relieving severe pain but they are highly addictive and have significant harmful side effects. Analgesics are not addictive, but are usually inadequate in reducing or eliminating pain. Additionally, long-term use of analgesics can develop serious side effects including stomach bleeding, liver damage, and kidney damage.

Medical Marijuana is an affordable, natural alternative that lacks the side effects found in the medicines traditionally used to treat chronic pain. In 1975, researchers found that THC was an effective pain reliever for cancer patients and found that it lacked the significant or toxic side effects found in traditional medicines. Since then, countless other studies have shown that marijuana safely and effectively treats various types of chronic pain with little to no side effects or risk of dependency.

It is estimated that more than 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma, a disease of the major nerve of vision called the optic nerve. Without diagnosis and treatment, glaucoma can progress to loss of central vision and blindness. Worldwide, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.

Effective treatment for glaucoma involves the use of drugs or surgical procedures that prevent progressive optic nerve damage. The only method of accomplishing this is by lowering intraocular pressure (IOP).

Though research findings on the effectiveness of marijuana for glaucoma have been mixed, medical cannabis (often referred to as medical weed or medical pot) may help alleviate IOP and in turn lessen effects of the disease. Studies supported by the National Eye Institute in the 1970s showed that medical marijuana (or its components), when taken orally or via inhalation, can lower intraocular pressure.  And in 2003, the American Academy of Ophthalmology released a position statement which said that "some derivatives of marijuana did result in lowering of IOP when administered orally, intravenously, or by smoking, but not when topically applied to the eye."

Because the possibility exists that marijuana may be useful in treating glaucoma, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Committee on Drugs maintains that a long-term clinical study is needed to test safety and effectiveness of marijuana. However, countless patients have found relief from glaucoma symptoms with cannabis, and many marijuana states have approved marijuana use for the treatment of glaucoma.

According to the World Health Organization, over 500,000 Americans have died from HIV/AIDS and over one million US citizens are living with the disease. It is a chronic, life-threatening condition that is one of the most commonly cited reasons cannabis patients get medical marijuana. In fact, each medical marijuana state includes HIV/AIDS as a qualifying medical condition.

Patients living with HIV typically take antiretroviral drugs to prolong the onset of AIDS. But side effects of antiretroviral therapy—which include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and severe pain in the nerve endings (polyneuropathies)—are often unbearable. Other side effects of HIV/AIDS include wasting syndrome or cachexia and intractable pain. Many patients use medical marijuana to help manage their symptoms. According to 2005 study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes[1], more than 60% of HIV patients use cannabis as a medicine.

Medical Marijuana is widely recognized as an effective treatment for symptoms of HIV/AIDS as well as the side effects related to the antiretroviral therapies that constitute the first line of treatment for HIV/AIDS. Its value as an anti-emetic (stops vomiting) and analgesic (relieves pain) has been proven in numerous studies and has been recognized by several government-sponsored reviews.

For example, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM)[2],"For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication."

Columbia University published clinical trial data in 2007[3] reporting that HIV/AIDS patients who inhaled cannabis four times daily experienced "substantial ... increases in food intake ... with little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance." They concluded, "Smoked marijuana ... has a clear medical benefit in HIV-positive [subjects]."

In 2008, researchers at the University of California at San Diego[4] concluded that cannabis “significantly reduced neuropathic pain intensity in HIV-associated … polyneuropathy compared to placebo, when added to stable concomitant analgesics. … Mood disturbance, physical disability, and quality of life all improved significantly during study treatment.  … Our findings suggest that cannabinoid therapy may be an effective option for pain relief in patients with medically intractable pain due to HIV.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating and sometimes fatal disorder of the central nervous system, is the most common debilitating neurologic disease of young people. More than two million people worldwide suffer from the disease, with two hundred new cases diagnosed in the United States every week.

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), so researchers and scientists aim to slow the disease's progression and create better treatments. Current medications for MS may have negative side effects such as flu-like symptoms (such as fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle aches), allergic reactions, headaches, tiredness and joint pain. Others can even damage your heart or cause a serious and life-threatening disease called PML. Some, like corticosteroids, will debilitate the immune response, leaving MS patients vulnerable to infection.

Medical cannabis (often referred to as medical weed or medical pot) is an effective drug that can help MS patients lessen the effects of the disease. Countless case studies, anecdotal reports, scientific studies, surveys and double-blind studies have reported improvement in MS patients treated with medical cannabis and/or cannabinoids for symptoms such as spasticity, muscle spasms, chronic pain, tremor, sexual dysfunction, bowel and bladder dysfunctions, vision dimness, dysfunctions of walking and balance (ataxia) and memory loss.

There are a wide variety of possible symptoms of seizures, depending on what parts of the brain are involved. Many, if not all, types of seizures cause loss of awareness and some cause twitching or shaking of the body. Symptoms of seizures come on suddenly, over just seconds to a minute, and may include:

  • Change in consciousness, so that you can't remember some period of time
  • Loss of muscle control and falling, often very suddenly
  • Muscle movement such as twitching that might spread up or down an arm or leg
  • Muscle tension/tightening that causes twisting of the body, head, arms, or legs

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy and seizures affect almost 3 million Americans of all ages, at an estimated annual cost of $15.5 billion in direct and indirect costs. There is no cure for epilepsy or seizures, but certain medications can prevent seizures as long as they are taken regularly. According to the Epilepsy Foundation medications can control seizures in about 70% of patients—but that leaves 30% of patients without relief. Furthermore, traditional epileptic medications come with side effects such as sedation, slurring of speech, unsteadiness, double vision, weight gain, hyperactivity (in children), sleep disturbances, irritability, gum dysplasia, hirsutism, and changes in mood.

Many patients suffering from epilepsy and other seizure disorders have found great relief from medical marijuana, either taken on its own or in conjunction with other more traditional medications. Some people who suffer from seizures but cannot tolerate other anti-seizure medications have been able to use marijuana to successfully control their seizures. While there is still much research to be completed, a 2003 study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that ingredients in marijuana and the cannabinoid receptor protein produced naturally in the body play a critical role in controlling spontaneous seizures in epilepsy.

Additionally, medical marijuana is lacks the side effects found in traditional medicines used to treat epilepsy. Marijuana side effects are typically mild and are classified as "low risk," with euphoric mood changes among the most frequent side effects.

b. Marijuana has many beneficial properties

i. Marijuana is very effective in managing symptoms such as: Nausea and vomiting, Appetite loss, Muscle tension/spasms/stiffness, Pain and inflammation, Insomnia and sleep disorders, Anxiety and depression, Headaches and migranes, Seizures, Gastrointestinal/digestive conditions, Allergies, Cancer and tumor growth.

ii. Marijuana is often used to manage side effects of pharmacutical drugs, medical procedures and drug withdrawls, in addition to treating diseases.

c. Marijuana has relatively few health risks

i. Marijuana is non-toxic and a fatal overdose is impossible (not a single death has ever been attributed to marijuana use).

ii. Marijuana is not physically addictive, however it can be habit forming and some heavy users display a psycological addiction.

iii. There's little consensus as to whether "Marijuana Withdrawl" is clinically relevant, if it even exists at all, but some critics argue that withdrawl can cause symptoms such as anxiety, sleeping problems, or irritability in a subgroup of users.

iv. Marijuana has few side effects, if significant. These include: Dry mouth, red eyes and tachycardia. Side effects such as panic, paranoia, and anxiety are more common with new or naive users, those who already have a psychiatric disease, those who tend to panic in certain situations, or those who use a much higher dosage than they can currently tolerate. All these effects are temporary and cause no harm.

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3. Prohibition has failed to control the use and domestic production of marijuana

a. Prohibition produces crime and a black market

i. Prohibition creates violence, crime, criminal gangs, and cartels as part of the enourmous black market.

ii. Marijuana sales for criminal enterprises are subsidizing their other illegal activities, including human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and the sale of other drugs.

iii. Prohibition ensures that there will continue to be violent criminals who reap huge tax-free profits and endanger public safety instead of legitimate, licensed business that create jobs, pay taxes, and take their financial grievances to court instead of settling them in the streets.

b. Proper marijuana regulation will decrease accessibility to and protect minors

i. Studies show marijuana is more available to minors than cigarettes and beer, as marijuana is not regulated, dealers operate virtually anywhere and don't ask for ID.

1. Since 1975, between 81% and 90% of 12th graders each year have said that they could get marijuana 'very easily' or 'fairly easily' in the "Monitoring the Future" survey.[9]

2. Teenagers were surveyed on whether marijuana, cigarettes, and beer are easiest to buy: 34 percent said it's the easiest of the three, compared with 31 percent for cigarettes and 14 percent for beer.[10]

ii. It would reduce their exposure to other (hard) drugs in the illegal market, as marijuana dealers often carry other drugs.

iii. By making marijuana an attractive commodity for small-scale sales, prohibition has created a substantial market in which teenagers can considerably profit by selling marijuana to other teenagers, making marijuana easily accessible to young people.

1. 612,000 youths aged 12 to 17 (3%) sold illegal drugs in the preceding 12 months, according to the 2011 NSDUH.[11]

iv. Availability of marijuana to minors remains unchanged regardless of federal drug control spending.[12] (see figure 3.1).

Marijuana Availability to 12th Graders vs Drug Control Budget

Figure 3.1 Source: monitoringthefuture.org.[13] Percent of 12th graders saying they could get marijuana 'very easily' or 'fairly easily' in the "Monitoring the Future" survey; ONDCP.[14]

c. Prohibition increases hard drug use

i. Exposure to other drugs when purchasing marijuana on the black-market increases the opportunity to use other illicit drugs.[15]

ii. If frequent contact with drug dealers is ceased due to legalization and regulation, hard drug usage would drop significantly.

iii. Students subjected to drug screens have a greater tendency to switch from marijuana to other illicit "hard" drugs which generally possess shorter detection times: marijuana's primary metabolite, carboxy-THC, is fat soluble, and may be present in urine for days, weeks, or in some cases even months after past use.[16]

d. Criminal penalties for marijuana are unjust and unneccesarily harsh

i. Criminal penalties for marijuana possession in many otherwise law abiding citizens can create barriers in securing a job; getting housing, retaining custody of children; or receiving a professional license, student loans/federal student aid, food assistance, a driver's license, a firearms permit, or the right to vote. -Causing great harm to people for choosing to use a substance far safer than alcohol and tobacco.

e. Marijuana has become an ineradicable part of the US economy and is impossbile to prohibit

i. Roughly half of adults (48%) say they have ever tried marijuana.[17] About 12 percent say they have used marijuana in the past year.[17] (see figure 3.2).

ii. Marijuana is the largest cash crop in the US, larger than corn and wheat combined.[6] (see figure 3.3).

Marijuana Usage & Frequency by Age

Figure 3.2 Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.[18]

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4. Alcohol and tobacco, though legal, are far more harmful than marijuana

a. Marijuana has much less health and social costs than alcohol and tobacco

i. In terms of health-related costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.[19]

ii. Marijuana-intoxicated drivers are much less likely to cause a car accident than drunk drivers.

1. Most marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on actual road tests. Experienced smokers who drive on a set course show almost no functional impairment under the influence of marijuana.[20]

2. Drivers are more likely to be aware of, and more importantly, compensate for their intoxication when high than when drunk.[20]

3. While most of marijuana's effects wear off in about an hour and a half after smoking, the effects of being drunk last an hour per drink: which means less intoxicated driving under the influence of marijuana than of alcohol.

b. Marijuana legalization will lead to lower rates of alcohol and tobacco use

i. In medical marijuana users, 75.5% substitute marijuana for at least one other substance.[21]

1. Over 41% of medical marijuana patients state that they use marijuana as a substitute for alcohol,[21] 36.1% use marijuana as a substitute for illicit substances,[21] and 67.8% use marijuana as a substitute for prescription drugs.[21]

ii. Studies show that states that have passed medical-marijuana laws have a significant decrease in alcohol consuption and traffic fatalities.[22]

iii. Marijuana is often used as an exit drug to ween those afflicted with a alcohol, tobacco or other drug addiction.

iv. Adults and teens are being driven to choose alcohol over marijuana.

1. Punishment for a minor in possession of alcohol is usually far less severe than a minor is possession of marijuana, driving minors to drink alcohol.

2. Employee drug testing is driving people to drink alcohol instead of using marijuana.

c. Health risks and dangers associated with alcohol and tobacco far outweight marijuana

Risks Alcohol Tobacco Marijuana
Addiction 15% of users become dependant[23] 32% of users become dependant[23] 9% of users become dependant[23]
Withdrawl Commonly include autonomic hyperactivity (e.g., sweating or pulse rate greater than 100), increased hand tremor, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, transient visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations or illusions, psychomotor agitation, anxiety, grand mal seizures; according to DSM-IV[24] Commonly include dysphoric or depressed mood, insomnia, irritability, frustration, or anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, decreased heart rate, increased appetite or weight gain; according to DSM-IV[24] (Marijuana withdrawal is not listed as a condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; DSM-IV[24]) - Critics argue that withdrawl can cause symptoms such as anxiety, sleeping problems, or irritability in a subgroup of users.
Deaths Yearly in US 80,000 (3rd leading cause of preventable death)[25] 443,000 (1st leading cause of preventable death)[26] 0 (ever)
Health Risks Fatal to Effective Dose: 10:1
Alcohol use increases the risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, oesophagus, larynx, breast, liver, colon, and rectum in addition to liver cirrhosis, essential hypertension, chronic pancreatitis and many more health problems.
Fatal to Effective Dose: 50:1

Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart, liver and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis), and cancer (particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer), peripheral vascular disease, hypertension and many more health problems.

Fatal to Effective Dose: 33,000:1
No conclusive evidence linking marijuana to disease.
Subjective Acute Effects Increased sociability, lowered inhibitions, emotionally sensitivity, relaxation and stress relief.
Behavior: Increases the likelihood of domestic violence, sexual assualt, vandalism, injury, aggressive or hostile behavior, suicide, unsafe sex/STD's. Alcohol is related to 55% of fatal auto accidents. Half of all murderers and their victims are believed to involve alcohol.
Stimulated and increased concentration, relaxation and stress relief. Giggles, munchies, amplified senses (taste, smell, touch, sound), things seem funnier, music greatly enhanced, deeper appreciation for the arts, introspective, altered perceptions, relaxation and stress relief.
Behavior: Reduces the likelihood of violent or aggressive behavior.
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5. Enforcement of marijuana laws is racially discriminatory

a. Marijuana prohibition disproportionately impacts minorities

i. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2002, approximately 74% of regular marijuana users (those who have used within the past month) are non-Hispanic whites and 14% are black, rates that are similar to lifetime use patterns as well (76% white and 11% black).15 But these figures contrast sharply with arrest rates. While blacks make up approximately 14% of marijuana users in the general population, they are 30% of those arrested for marijuana violations.[27]

ii. Controversial policies such as New York City's "Stop-and-Frisk" program encourages police to search any citizen without cause leading to a large number of marijuana arrests of minorities compared to whites.

1. While whites make up 48% of all marijuana users in NYC, Hispanic's 28% and Blacks 24%; White's only make up 15% of all arrests, Hispanics 30% and Blacks a whopping 55%.[28] (see figure 5.1).

2. Enforcement policy decisions are one potential explanatory factor for the disparity in arrest by race. A Maryland study on marijuana enforcement observed that police officers knew where to go if they wished to make an easy drug arrest, and suggested that they could do so whenever they wished in certain neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are those where drug use and selling is most likely to be in public spaces, allowing for easy apprehension. Research by criminologist Alfred Blumstein supports this point, observing that disproportionate arrest rates are due to "a more dense police presence where blacks reside."[27]

NYC Marijuana Possession Arrests & Users By Race (1997-2006)

Figure 5.1 Source: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.[29]

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6. Prohibition is based on inertia, lies and disinformation

a. Allegations of marijuana's dangers are false, misleading and deceptive

i. Justification of marijuana's illegality increasingly requires distortions and selective uses of the scientific record, causing harm to the credibility of teachers, law enforcement officials, and scientists throughout the country.

ii. See the following points for refutations of common allegations made by anti-marijuana propaganda.

b. ALLEGATION: Marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. Therefore, marijuana smoke is more harmful than tobacco smoke.

i. Marijuana smokers consume a vastly smaller amount.

1. According to the American Lung Association, the average tobacco smoker smokes 15 cigarettes each day.[30] The average cigarette contains 1g of tobacco,[31] equaling 15 grams of tobacco per day.

2. If the average (daily) marijuana smoker smokes 1 joint per day (0.46g)[32], then its carcinogen content would equal 0.736g in comparison to tabacco. The average (daily) marijuana user would then smoke 20 times less carcinogens than the average tobacco smoker.

3. Since the majority of marijuana users are not daily users anyway, if the average (any frequency) marijuana smoker smokes about 30 days a year,[33] then the average (any frequency) marijuana user would then smoke 248 times less carcinogens than the average tobacco smoker.

4. These are rough estimates, but studies have confirmed that pot smokers are no likely to develop cancers than those who don't smoke marijuana.[34]

ii. Components of cannabis smoke minimize some carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances some.[35]

iii. It's not radioactive. (Unlike tobacco which is fertilized with radioactive chemicals). In addition, tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds are toxic, and about 70 can cause cancer.[36]

iv. Marijuana is commonly consumed using methods that eliminate the harms of smoking such as in vaporizers, cooked into foods: rendering this argument moot.

c. ALLEGATION: Marijuana potency has increased over the years.

i. Although marijuana potency may have increased somewhat in recent decades, claims about enormous increases in potency are vastly overstated and not supported by evidence. Nonetheless, potency is not related to risks of dependence or health impacts.

ii. Average joint sizes have dropped over the years from half a gram to about a quarter of a gram.[37]

iii. This is beneficial, as more potent marijuana means less smoke inhalation is necessary to acquire an effective dose.

iv. The average potency increase is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

d. ALLEGATION: Marijuana is a gateway drug.

i. Underage drinking and cigarette smoking are more likely to be indicaters of hard drug use.

1. By comparing substance abuse rates between drinkers and non-drinkers, a study ultimately found that seniors in high school who had consumed alcohol at least once in their lives were 13 times more likely to use cigarettes, 16 times more likely to use marijuana and other narcotics, and 13 times more likely to use cocaine.[39]

ii. The vast majority of marijuana users do not move on to use hard drugs.

1. People who are inclined to try drugs start with those that are the most common - usually tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. Gateway theory confuses correlation with causation. It's not surprising that most hard drug users have used marijuana.[38]

2. Statistically, for every 104 Americans who have tried marijuana, there is only one regular user of cocaine, and less than one user of heroin, according to annual data compiled by the federal National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.[40]

3. For the overwhelming majority of users, marijuana is clearly a 'terminus' rather than a gateway.

iii. Research shows that the actual "gateway" is the illegal drug market. The World Health Organization noted that any gateway effect associated with marijuana use may actually be due to marijuana prohibition because "exposure to other drugs when purchasing cannabis on the black-market increases the opportunity to use other illicit drugs." If anything, regulating marijuana will reduce hard drug use.[38]

e. ALLEGATION: More teens enter treatment each year with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined. Currently, 62 percent of teens in drug treatment are dependent on marijuana.

i. According to state and national statistics, up to 70 percent of all individuals in drug treatment for marijuana are placed there by the criminal justice system,[41] while only 15 percent enter themselves.[41] Of those in treatment, some 36 percent had not even used marijuana in the 30 days prior to their admission.[42]

ii. Although admissions to drug rehabilitation clinics among marijuana users have increased dramatically since the mid-1990s, this rise in marijuana admissions is due to a proportional increase in the number of people arrested by law enforcement for marijuana violations and subsequently referred to drug treatment by the criminal justice system.[43]

iii. As such, this data is in no way indicative of whether the person referred to treatment is suffering from any symptoms of dependence associated with marijuana use; most individuals are ordered to attend supervised drug treatment simply to avoid jail time.

f. ALLEGATION: We have made substantial success in reducing drug use in this country.

i. Marijuana enforcement has had no discernable long-term impact on marijuana availability or use.

ii. Since 1975, between 81% and 90% of 12th graders each year have said that they could get marijuana 'very easily' or 'fairly easily' in the "Monitoring the Future" survey[9] - despite remarkably increased marijuana penalties, enforcement, and the prevalence of anti-marijuana propaganda since that time.

iii. The most substantial decrease in drug use have been with alcohol and tobacco, showing that regulation and education are the most important factors in reducing drug usage.

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7. Hemp can thrive once again into a valuable and diverse agricultural crop

Hemp refers to strains of the Cannabis Sativa plant with less than 1% THC

a. Hemp is a versatile crop with many practical uses

i. The Hemp plant is considered one of the most medicinally beneficial and environmentally-friendly plants of all time.

ii. For over 5,000 years, hemp has been cultivated and used in over 25,000 products worldwide, including foods, textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, insulation, animal feed, rope and biofuel.

iii. Hemp provide manufacturers with alternatives to less environmentally-friendly products.

iv. Hemp produces the most biomass of any crop per acre.[45] Hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products, according to the Department of Energy.[44]

v. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.[44] Hemp produces twice as much fiber per acre as cotton.[46]

vi. Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper.[44]

vii. Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.[44]

viii. Hemp seed has an oil content of 34%, more than any other seed.[46] Hemp seed oil is second only to whale oil in quality and has the same burning qualities and viscosity as #2 grade heating oil, without any of the sulphur-based pollutants.[46]

b. Hemp is a highly nutritious food

i. Hemp is the only plant that contains all of the essential fatty acids and amino acids required by the human body.[47]

ii. Hempseeds and hemp oil are highly nutritious and delicious. Hempseeds are an excellent source of protein, minerals, and dietary fiber.[48]

c. Hemp's properties are unique, valuable and sustainable

i. Hemp is the longest and strongest natural fiber.[49]

ii. Hemp grows rapidly in very diverse soil conditions.[49]

iii. Hemp grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.[44]

d. Hemp has a long history of use

i. Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.[44]

ii. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic.[44]

iii. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.[44]

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8. The government has no right to enforce marijuana laws, Freedom!

a. The majority of Americans support legalization

i. According to an April, 2013 national survey by the Pew Research Center:[17]

1. 52% over 45%, most say marijuana should be legalized.[17]

2. 77% over 16%, most say marijuana does have legitimate medical uses.[17]

3. 72% believe government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth.[17]

4. 62% believe the use of marijuana does not lead to the use of hard drugs.[17]

b. Prohibition violates liberty

i. Adults consuming marijuana in the privacy of their own home does not hurt anybody, so long as they aren't putting anybody's heath in danger.

ii. Prohibition of marijuana is unwarranted government intrusion into an individual's freedom of choice: for using a recreational substance much safer than it's legal alternatives, alcohol and tobacco.

c. Legalization has worked everywhere it's been tried

i. Most European countries - including Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland - do not criminally arrest marijuana users. Yet virtually every European nation, including the Netherlands, has drastically lower rates of marijuana and drug use among their adult and teen population compared to the United States.

d. Religious and spiritual freedom

i. The use of marijuana in religion dates back to the second millennium B.C. and continues still today. In the past, ancient Chinese belief systems, the Scythian people group of Central Asia, ancient Germanic paganism, and Hinduism, all used marijuana for religious reasons.

ii. Many users feel that marijuana help the feel more spiritual, closer to their religion or deity(s), and puts them into a deeply meditative state of mind.

iii. Many religions today, such as Rastafarianism, instruct their followers to use marijuana in concordance with religion practices like ceremonies or scripture readings.

e. Prohibition decreases trust in the government

i. Marijuana prohibition causes nearly half of Americans to be considered criminals for the same crime by their own government.

ii. The millions of current marijuana users are less likely to want to report crimes for fear of police finding their marijuana and arresting them, especially if they're carrying some in their car.

iii. Marijuana is incorrectly scheduled as a Schedule 1 drug.

1. Retaining marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (a drug with no medicial usage), enable the government to prevent scientists from doing research on its medical benefits.

2. This is largely because the sole supply of legal research-grade marijuana is under control of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose mandate is to prevent drug abuse, not research medical benefits.

f. Synthetic weed, designer drugs and other legal highs

i. New, unresearched, technically 'legal' substances, are the aim of people looking for a way to get high without legal consequences, causing unknown and potentially dangerous effects to users or people around them.

ii. Every year, many new intoxicating and dangerous drugs are introduced to the black and grey market that avoid the provisions of existing drug laws because there are little to no regulations when it comes to these substances.

g. Alcohol prohibition failed miserably. Marijuana prohibition is failing for the same reasons.

i. Sound economic theory states that any time that government intervenes to prohibit mutually beneficial exchanges - whether it is alcohol, sex, sugar or marijuana - the result will be failure,[50] plus the creation of additional, new problems that need more government intervention to resolve.

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