opinion

COLUMN: It’s time to federally legalize marijuana for recreational use



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Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, but many states have been passing legislation to make it legal. The nation as a whole would benefit from legalization of marijuana for economic, medical and safety reasons.

“Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 U.S. states," said Keith Spreights of the Motley Fool. "Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states. All forms of marijuana, however, remain illegal at the federal level in the U.S."

The spread of legalization has garnered increasing amounts of support from not only the liberal public but the conservative side, too.

“Gallup found last year that a slim majority of Republicans supported legal marijuana for the first time, and this year's figure, 53%, suggests continued Republican support," according to a Gallup poll. "Views that pot should be legalized have also reached new peaks this year among Democrats (75%) and independents (71%)."

The increasing amount of Republicans supporting federal legalization of marijuana is certainly a step in the right direction.

The benefits of legalizing marijuana are plentiful in a variety of different areas.

By legalizing recreational use, there would be an abundance of jobs to enter into the newly-founded industries. New jobs would be opened in dispensaries, distribution outlets, shops, etc.

The tax benefits from the marijuana industry could also start making a dent in the $22 trillion of the U.S. debt.

“Better than expected sales of marijuana in Colorado and Washington over the past several years have resulted in buoyant tax revenues,"according to Investopedia. "In 2015, Colorado collected more than $135 million in taxes and fees on medical and recreational marijuana."

If marijuana were to be legalized, it could enter the stock exchange and start reaping investment benefits.

Secondly, there would be large strides within the medical community by relieving those with chronic pain.

“While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age,” said Harvard Health Publishing of Harvard Medical School.

As someone who suffers from chronic pain, each and every day is a struggle. Waking up and having every part of your body ache is not an easy feat.

In addition to helping those with chronic pain, it would also allow researchers much more freedom to conduct their own studies within the marijuana field.

While illegal, laws can place restrictions on researchers that do not allow them to fully delve into long-term effects on other types of medical marijuana benefits.

Lastly, the full-fledged federal legalization of recreational marijuana usage would greatly benefit Americans.

If federal legislation allowing recreational use were to be passed, regulation would be stricter, meaning laced weed would not be as prevalent. This would lower the risks for marijuana users greatly.

Crime reduction has also been reported with the legalization of recreational marijuana usage.

“The largest benefits in terms of crime reduction, with the possible exception of traffic-related crimes, come from the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use,” said the Reason Foundation.

Federal marijuana legalization is the best possible outcome for the U.S. economy, the medical field and the safety of marijuana users.

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