Recently a Pew poll came out that showed for the first time in the history of the question, more Americans support legalizing marijuana than think it should remain criminal. I was talking it over with someone and I think the bigger issue is not if it should be supported but why? I thought I’d break down why every group should support legalization.


Let’s start with the political parties……..


Democrats: This party should support legalization because the drug war is the new Jim Crow. Every year over 700,000 Americans, mostly young men and women of color, are arrested for possession of a plant. The war on drugs is what is feeding our quickly growing private prison system. Our prisons now hold more people arrested for drugs than they did for all offenses in 1981. America now has 4% of the worlds population but 25% of the worlds prison population and the 62% of local, state and federal inmates who are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses is the reason why. As the party of civil rights they should also support legalization because of our civil right to control over our own bodies.


Republicans (also Libertarians): This party should support the end of marijuana prohibition because in a republic if someone wants to do something, and they aren’t hurting anyone other than them self, they should be allowed to. That’s what republicans are supposed to think, but somehow when it comes to a right they don’t believe in that mindset somehow changes. They should support the consumption based taxation of marijuana which is a tax on consumers not everyone. Marijuana legalization advocates are literally the only group in Washington asking to pay more taxes. Groups like the DEA are the epitome of big government. When the government has the right to send armed officials into a home because of a plant, the government has gotten out of control. The violence associated with black market drug sales is the majority of gun violence and ignoring that fact is part of the reason we are now having unnecessary conversations about banning guns when a much better and more constitutional solution would be ending the black market sales of products responsible for much of the violence.


Green party members: It would decrease our carbon footprint, it’s a healthier alternative to prescription medication and commercial pesticides used for cotton, which hemp could replace, make up approximately half of all commercial pesticides used in this country. The use of marijuana and hemp oil over both petroleum and opiate drugs could curb our need for continuously going to war in the Middle East because both of those resources ultimately come from there. Hemp briquettes could also replace the need for burning coal to create electricity and burns both hotter and cleaner. They need to move it to the top of their platform because the use of hemp is vital to the implementing of every other issue and platform they have. Cheaper healthcare, more jobs, farm based finances, less environmental impacts, sustainable economies without constant war, ending the disparaging of minorities, young Americans and the families they are trying to begin. The legalization of marijuana and hemp could benefit every one of those platforms directly.


Now let’s move onto some more individually based groups and why they should support ending the prohibition of marijuana.


Employers: Opposition often cites lost productivity for why legalization should be avoided. But I’d argue that it’s why employers should support it. Of the 700,000 plus a year arrested for simple marijuana possession since 2000, on average, 465,000 of those arrestees have been employed. If each one of those people misses just 8 hours of work for drug court and court appointed rehab, that’s 3.72 million hours of lost productivity due to marijuana being criminalized. According to the most recent statistics available marijuana is only responsible for 380,000 hours of lost productivity due to illness and injury. That means we are losing ten times as many hours to it being criminalized as we are to it causing injury or illness. Legalizing marijuana would increase national worker productivity not decrease it.


Parents, grandparents, family and friends: No one wants to see their family’s youth experimenting with drugs at a young age. But a big part of the reason children have access to marijuana and other drugs is drugs are not regulated. No matter how much we want them to, drug dealers will never ID children. However, regulated store owners would ID children before selling them marijuana. In 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse put out a report that in the last 10 years marijuana has become easier for children to obtain than alcohol or tobacco because of its unregulated manner. We brought youth alcohol and tobacco usage down with tougher restrictions on sales to minors and educational programs and the same action should be used for marijuana. It is the opinion of many health organizations including the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine that the gateway theory is incorrect and that the real gateway is sending 54 million Americans per year to drug dealers to buy a substance physically less toxic than peanuts. Another issue with criminalizing marijuana is the “Higher Education Act”. The Higher Education Act strips young Americans of their ability to garner financial aid for higher education if they receive a drug charge. This is a handicap we don’t place on murderers, rapists or pedophiles, but get caught with some weed and you can kiss your ability to get loans and grants goodbye. The last thing any family needs when dealing with substance abuse is the fear of seeing their family member criminalized or kicked out of school as they try to get them help. Substance usage should be a health issue at worse, not a criminal issue.


Teachers: We give these people the social responsibility of educating the nation’s children for the real world and we should arm them with the strongest, science based information available. When the 49% of children who decide to try marijuana realize it’s not as harmful as they were told they will often move onto harder drugs to see if they were lied to about those too. They can’t even warn children about the biggest harm of marijuana which is mixing it with alcohol. Alcohol creates nausea while marijuana mediates it. At the point when your body would tell you that you’ve had too much to drink, the marijuana mediates your nausea and this increases your chances for alcohol poisoning. As long as we keep lying to children about marijuana we can not teach them the real facts so they have the ability to make the best decisions possible.


Law Enforcement: Over the last 4 decades we’ve seen a major decrease in peoples respect for the law. This can be directly attributed to the war on drugs, including marijuana. Arresting 20 million people for simple marijuana possession has people questioning the legitimacy of not only the law itself but those in charge of enforcing those laws. By ending the war on marijuana we will end people being arrested carelessly and losing their respect for law enforcement.


Rural Americans including farmers: Hemp, hemp, hemp………currently America has a 725 billion dollar a year dependency on foreign oil and a 1.2 trillion dollar dependency on opiates medications produced by the poppy plant. Both of these things are garnered in the middle east but could be grown and produced by American farmers instead. That’s good for all Americans but especially those who live in rural areas.


Christians including pastors and clergy: This is going to be the toughest group to convince, but it’s all about the proper context. People often cite Genesis 1:12 about herbs bearing seed as the reason for Christian conservatives to support marijuana legalization but I have a better scripture for dealing with marijuana legalization and substance use as a whole. Matthew 15:11 says that “it is not what a man puts into his mouth which defiles him, but what comes out of it”. We are supposed to have compassion for our fellow human beings and criminalizing people for using marijuana and other substances is the opposite of compassion. Science has shown the marijuana is less harmful than alcohol physically and as the group who is supposed to be Americans compass for thought and compassion they should encourage an end to people being criminalized for it.


There are many other reasons that everyone should support it. Dozens of studies done by reputable universities both in America and internationally have shown it has cancer fighting potentials. With 1 in 4 Americans experiencing some form of cancer in their lifetimes, we should all not only encourage its use as medicine but demand it. There have been over 20,000 studies showing either its positive effects in fighting injury and illness or that it’s negatives have been greatly overblown. States that have legalized medical marijuana are seeing decreases in alcohol related motor deaths comparable to when we changed the drinking age from 18 to 21 nationally. States are also seeing a decrease in the suicide rates of young adult males. We have hundreds of thousands of veterans who could benefit from it for getting through injuries both physical and mental. I personally know at least ten of my fellow soldiers who benefit from its use over prescription drugs. They are living healthier lives and are able to be happier, productive members of society despite being diagnosed with war gained PTSD. In my opinion this is by far the biggest reason we should all support ending the prohibition of marijuana both in America. There are a lot of reasons for anyone to support legalization but only one reason not to support it and that’s profit.


Private prisons will continue not to support it because ending the drug war will hurt their profits a lot. The same goes for the prison guard unions who work in them. Pharmaceutical companies will lose because theirs no profit in a pain and nausea medicine you can grow yourself or farmers can grow for you. Police will continue to support it’s criminalization as long as it’s the law they are set to enforce and they receive grants for arresting marijuana users. Alcohol companies will continue to support prohibition because it will hurt their sales. Timber and cotton will never support it because it will overtake their markets. Oil companies don’t want to see it legalized because then we won’t need them anymore. Finally, the group who will continue to support prohibition the most (and you are seeing this directly with the creation of new anti legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana or S.A.M.) is the private rehab companies. Over 90% of people who go to rehab for marijuana are those sent by the courts. If you end sending people to rehab for marijuana and instead utilize those resources for helping people who truly need to go to rehab, it will not equal the amount they are making off the public court system sending hundreds of thousands of people to them because of criminalization, regardless of whether or not they actually need rehabilitated or not. In all honesty, for the most part, the only people who still actively fight the legalization of marijuana are those that profit from it. That fact alone should tell you something.