Marijuana: A Country’s Changing Perspective
The country’s view on marijuana today is a far cry from what it was in the 1950s and 60s. In the past, much of the country had a conservative view of pot, fully believing that it would be the downfall of society and would cause mass problems. These fears increased the stigma of marijuana use. People who used were seen as lazy, criminals, and the dregs of humanity. It also led to a large number of people being arrested and imprisoned over the years for possession and sale of marijuana.
Fears about marijuana were largely unfounded, of course, and over the years more research has been done to show the true effects of the drug. It turns out that there are far more benefits than drawbacks to marijuana usage. Although times and viewpoints are changing, there is still something of a stigma around weed.
More People Approve of Legalization Today
Research has shown that over the past few years, more and more people have become open to the idea of legalization for medical and recreational use. The only groups of people that tend to be staunchly opposed still are the older generations.
It’s likely that these people were affected by the disinformation campaigns of the government decades ago and still believe all of the fearmongering from things like Reefer Madness. This was a propaganda film from 1936, the film was originally titled Tell Your Children, among other titles. It shows outlandish events that occurred when students tried marijuana, such as suicide, murder, hallucinations, and more. By the time that the 70s rolled around, most people viewed the film as satire even though it wasn’t the original intention. Some people may have believed in all of the negativity that it pushed.
Regardless, only a little more than 30% of people in the older generations feel that marijuana should be made legal. When it comes to those who are 64 and younger are pro-legalization. Overall, the country is largely in favor of legalizing marijuana. This has been reflected by the number of states that have legalized weed.
States Where Marijuana is Legal for Medical and Recreational Usage Today
Many states in the country have legalized marijuana to some extent. Some have allowed recreational and medical use, while others have only allowed for medical marijuana. However, some states are still fully illegal. Always take the time to look up the most current laws in your state. Here’s a quick breakdown.
Marijuana is fully legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New York, Montana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Illinois, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, and New Jersey.
Only medical marijuana is legal in Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.
Marijuana is fully illegal in Idaho and Nebraska.
What is the Cause for the Change?
There are several reasons that more and more people want marijuana legalized. One of the biggest reasons is personal experience. Around 50% of people in the United States today have used marijuana at some point in their life. People have a better understanding of the actual effects of the drug, and they know that they won’t go on “rampages” like those depicted in old propaganda. Their experience leads them to make a more informed decision, thus one of the reasons why so many are on the side of legalization. However, it’s certainly not the only reason.
Another reason is that marijuana can provide help from a medical perspective. Research is showing that cannabis can help with a range of medical conditions. This includes chronic pain, epilepsy, and anxiety. These medical benefits have the potential to help a large number of people using a natural method rather than dangerous manmade drugs. People want to legalize marijuana for these medical benefits and to help a lot of people who need help.
The media and pop culture have played important roles in the change, as well. It’s viewed as being more commonplace in society in many films, shows, literature, etc. Marijuana is often used in comedic ways, which helps to reduce the former deep stigmatization it faced. Some of the first proponents of marijuana who used it in media for comedic effect were Cheech and Chong. For years, they were the “faces” of pot smokers, just a couple of harmless, fun, goofy guys. Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob characters helped to carry on this tradition.
What About Federal Legalization?
The laws and marijuana can be difficult to keep track of because there are just so many when you factor in all of the states. As mentioned, you should always make sure that you check the most recent laws in your state. Things can be even more confusing when it comes to marijuana legalization at the federal level. Currently, marijuana is still considered illegal by the federal government.
President Biden still opposes the federal legalization of marijuana saying that more study is needed. He supports medical use and decriminalizing possession but does not want to move forward with full legalization. However, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, is an advocate for medical marijuana and says that they want to move ahead to make large changes in federal laws on marijuana, helping to make it fully legal for sale, use, and production.
The history of marijuana in the United States is interesting, and it’s good to see that more and more people are open to making the plant legal. It provides a host of benefits, it’s safer than many other drugs that are sold on the market, including many dangerous manmade painkillers. It can also create a massive economic boom. It is quite likely that marijuana will be legalized at the federal level, even though it might still take some time to get to that point. Hopefully, it won’t take too much longer.