Many Americans question whether legalizing marijuana will increase its usage, and now we may have some evidence that the answer could be yes. According to a new Huffington Post poll about legalizing marijuana, “26 percent of Americans say they would buy marijuana at least on rare occasions if it was legal in their state, compared to 9percent who said they buy it at least on rare occasions now.”
What percentage would buy it more often if it was legal? Eighteen percent more answered in the affirmative, and that includes 16 percent who said they never buy marijuana now but would, at least on rare occasions, if it was legal to do so.
Interestingly, it’s not just the young who claim they would increase their usage. Although those under 30 years of age were most likely to purchase it, even those 65 years and older agreed their usage would increase if it was legal.
Will legalizing marijuana increase its use against other products such as tobacco and alcohol?
According to the survey, there are still more potential buyers for both alcohol and tobacco products, than for marijuana products. For instance, an estimated 81 percent of respondents said they have drunk alcohol and 61 percent have used cigarettes in the last few months, but only 41 percent have tried marijuana. The drinkers also believe their alcohol use would remain higher than pot use, even if marijuana is made legal in their state.
There remains some controversy over how legalizing marijuana would affect its cost with an estimated 29% indicating that they believe the price will increase with legalization. Twenty-five percent indicated it is likely to decrease, and fifteen percent thought it would remain the same.
Side effects of legalizing marijuana need to be discussed
Opponents of legalizing marijuana should stand up now. If legalization of marijuana is likely to increase its use it’s time to decide if this is what we want for society. According to Neurologist Dr Keith Chiappa, “The use of marijuana, especially in younger age groups, should not be encouraged by any legalization and should continue to be discouraged by specific programs.”
No one seems to want to talk about the side effects of marijuana use either. According to medical experts, marijuana can “heightened risk of psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, damage to memory and judgment and heart problems.” These risks are especially acute for young adults whose brain is still developing. Teenage marijuana smokers have also been found to be less likely to complete high school and more likely to make poor career and life choices.
What is wrong with decriminalization? Although it might be time to reassess our nation’s drug laws, and most people don’t want marijuana users in prison with violent offenders, medical experts and other concerned citizens are ready to have a discussion about the medical and societal implications for decriminalization. One of the great questions, which this survey seems to indicate, is that decriminalization would send a message that it is okay to encourage marijuana use.
We’ve seen this play out in a variety of other societal issues- such as making divorce too easy which has created a massive breakdown of the American family. When society reduces the shame and consequences of questionable behavior we shouldn’t be surprised when frequency increases. We also shouldn’t scratch our head thirty years from now asking why adults and teens would rather sit around and smoke pot then go to work.
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