The fight for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana has been an ongoing social and political battle for many, many years now. As of today, 18 states (including D.C.) have approved recreational use of marijuana for adults, and a total of 38 have legalized medical marijuana. According to the article by CNET on the legalization of marijuana, “On the federal level, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act cleared the House in April and is now before the senate. If passed and then signed by President Joe Biden, it would legalize cannabis on a federal level, expunge the records of nonviolent offenders and fund social and criminal-justice programs in communities most impacted by overpolicing” (Avery, 2022). The MORE Act would also place taxes on cannabis, and that money would be used to pay for programs such as job training, legal aid and youth mentoring.
So, since it looks like we are moving in the right direction for the decriminalization of marijuana, lets get into the health benefits of this natural plant. Studies have shown that marijuana has indicated that it has some therapeutic properties to its use. With that in mind, the legalization of marijuana would be an immediate benefit to patients/people who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes, and they will no longer fear legal sanctions from their usage. In an article from CMAJ in 2016, they noted that “Both the US and Canada are currently dealing with an increase in addiction and death from fentanyl, oxycodone and other opiates. Two large studies have shown about a 25% decrease in deaths from opiate overdose associated with the legalization of medical cannabis and the availability of dispensaries” (Mitchell, 2016). These statistics would lead one to think that maybe one of the reasons that the government is making it so hard to federally legalize marijuana is that it would potentially cut out many of the big-name pharmaceuticals that the government profits from with their sales of opiates…but that is another conversation for another day.
Marijuana offers several benefits to individuals. From those suffering from pains triggered by cancer or arthritis, to aiding those who suffer from mental health problems such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. If you know someone that has been in the military and been deployed to a war zone, or a person that has experienced a traumatizing situation, then you likely know someone with PTSD. When the individual starts to envision or relive that unforgettable memory, it causes them to have panic attacks or anxiety attacks, and some fall into a deep depression. Marijuana can aid these individuals by “stimulating the CB1 receptor as well as their brain’s endocannabinoid system. This system regulates body functions like mood, memory, stress and pain…By stimulating this receptor and system, it allows these people to cope with their trauma in a positive manner” (Nystedt, 2021).
While there are still ongoing studies on the benefits of federally legalizing both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana and its health benefits, most studies thus far have supported the idea of its health benefits. And as with any other drug, both legal and illegal, the side effects will vary person to person and their purpose of use. It’s been a long road ahead of us that support marijuana uses for both recreational and medicinal purposes, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.