Although President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has a known hard-line stance against drugs, he supports the use of medical marijuana. “Medicinal marijuana – yes, because it is really an ingredient of modern medicine now,” he told reporters. He is, however, against the use of the drug for recreational purposes.
This begs the question, what would happen if marijuana is indeed legalized in the Philippines – even just for medical purposes?
Although there have been no reported deaths from marijuana so far compared to alcohol and prescription drugs, there’s still a negative stigma attached to weed, even if there have been documents supporting its benefits.
Let’s take a look at places where they have legalized and/or decriminalized cannabis use. Was there an increase in crime? Was there an increase in burrito consumption? Will the stoned hippie burnouts be the only ones benefitting? Read on and find out.
8. Decriminalizing means less crime
As reported by Forbes, when the government stops arresting and charging you for smoking the reefer, marijuana-based arrests and being prosecuted tend to drop. In 2012, Colorado recorded 12,894 marijuana-based arrests. This fell to 7,004 in 2014, around the same time when voters approved to decriminalize the plant. Law enforcers were then directed to channel their resources on more important things concerning public safety and criminal activity.
Colorado lawmakers were initially sceptical on what would happen if marijuana was made legal. Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver even said “Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere,” in 2012. However, murder rate has decreased by 42% and violent crime has since gone down by 2% and major property crimes have dipped by 11.5% since legalization in Denver. Legalization also inputs a quality and safety control system, guaranteeing you a quality product unlike getting your weed off the black market.
Think of all the resources a state can save if they can channel it into more worthwhile causes. It was estimated that the US could save up to $13.7 billion from prohibition enforcement costs.
7. Legal weed = jobs
Taking another cue from Colorado, the state generated 10,000 new jobs since legalizing marijuana in 2014. Said jobs include those employed by dispensaries, retail stores, infused product companies, cultivation sites and more. Since legalizing growing and trading pot in 2013, Uruguay has hit violent drug cartels, forcing black market prices and profits to plummet thanks to legal marijuana growers clubs. That’s taking money out of organized crime and hitting them where it hurts. The number of pot farmers has also doubled to 50,000.
Even FARC guerrilla rebels can get jobs in Colombia’s medical marijuana industry once a peace deal is finalized. Then, they end five decades of internal armed conflict.
Given the new jobs that legalization will bring, think about the numerous people who have been idle—now they can finally contribute to an economy’s growth. As sales increase, so will the need for new workers.
6. Overdoses on the decline
Opioid overdoses accounted for 28,000 deaths in the US, half of which involved a prescription opioid. However, new studies suggest that deaths from overdosing on prescription drugs decreased by 25% in states in the US where medical marijuana is legal.
Medical marijuana may have an impact on how people abuse prescription painkillers. Cannabis is believed to have painkilling properties, as well as relieve symptoms of nausea and improve one’s appetite.
But, for good measure, the team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center said further research is needed to see how medical marijuana laws influence overdose deaths and people who suffer from chronic pain.
5. Boost in sales and taxes
In addition to generating more jobs, Colorado was able to generate $3.5 million in tax revenue from pot sales since its legalization. Washington’s also not that far behind, generating $500 million in tax revenue. That is a LOT of money.
Also, think about the number of money “pot tourism” can bring. Think about what places like the Netherlands and Spain are currently experiencing.
4. Correlation between legalization and traffic safety needs further studies
In a study, Colorado State Patrol says that DUI summonses involving marijuana (either alone, or combined with other substances such as alcohol) dipped 1% between 2014 and 2015. On the other hand, the Denver Police Department found marijuana-related DUI cases rose between 2013 and 2014, from 33% to 66%, and rose again in 2015 to 73%.
However, when a DUI test reveals that THC is in one’s blood, it does not necessarily equate to one being impaired while driving, it only reveals the presence of the drug in one’s system. Given that cannabis consumption has risen since legalization, this only show that unimpaired drivers can also test positive for THC, whether or not they were stoned and tripping while driving.
3. Portugal as an example of decriminalization
Portugal decriminalized not just marijuana, but all drugs since 2001. They treat anyone holding small quantities (less than a 10-day supply) of illegal substances as a health-related issue and not a criminal one. Instead of being charged and sent to jail, you have to pay a fine and be asked to go to rehab or a treatment program.
The effect? HIV infection cases and drug-related deaths have gone down. From 80 overdose deaths the year that decriminalization took effect, only 12 deaths were recorded in 2012. Furthermore, a study shows Portugal records three overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens since decriminalization, compared to the European Union’s 17.3 deaths.
2. Legalization brings renewed efforts to study the effects of marijuana
Here’s a history lesson. The prohibition on marijuana started in the 1930s when Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger claimed that cannabis can be linked to violent crime, saying “the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” He further added, “marihuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes” and estimated that half the violent crimes in areas occupied by “Mexicans, Greeks, Turks, Filipinos, Spaniards, Latin Americans, and Negroes may be traced to the use of marihuana.”
Take note that the races Anslinger mentioned were minorities, including Filipinos. So we can assume that the roots of marijuana prohibition were not driven by scientific research, but rather by prejudice.
Legalization can help us understand the effects of marijuana. The US has long been hampered from studying the effects of medical marijuana due to it being mostly illegal. The federal government has ruled it as such, hence research on the pros and cons of medical pot has been limited. DEA says it has no medicinal value, so researchers have to get approval from the DEA before they can research. The DEA has even been relentless on states where pot is legal.
There have been numerous studies on its painkilling properties, but again there’s little research on the benefits and risks of long-term use. With legalization, the negative stigma on the drug can slowly be lifted and allow us to understand something that’s been misunderstood and reviled for so long.
1. Fast food consumption will increase
How about you? Got any weed knowledge to share? Puff, puff and pass it in the comments!