It is not hard to think how and why we made marijuana illegal back in the 70s. But now, when countries that persuaded, or rather pressured, us into banning it, have more or less lifted the ban themselves. This raises a question should we also not reconsider the ban?
Or perhaps we should think rationally about it now as we did not have a country-wide discussion prior to the ban. I propose through this article that it is not just time to think about it, but also to legalise cannabis. When I am proposing that, I am not, in any way, suggesting that we go from ‘zero to ten’ instantaneously. We can obviously find a smooth way to transition considering that we have enough experts in the medical field to suggest ways to go forward and, we can slowly take it from legalisation for medical usage to recreational purposes and finally towards touristic uses.
There are several positives to take into consideration for the case I am putting forward with this article. According to the drugabuse.org, cannabis has been found to be effective in increasing appetite and decreasing nausea, decreasing pain and inflammation, and controlling epileptic seizures. Research on mice showed that treatment with cannabinoids abstracts from medical marijuana helped cure cancer if applied at the same time with radiation treatment.
Further, there are speculations that it might even be effective in treating mental illnesses, although enough large-scale research has not been conducted. Even if experiments prove otherwise, the several advantages outweigh the fear of the potential disadvantages. Maybe the fact that medical usage of Cannabis is legal in 33 US states can give us a clue?
Additionally, money is a factor to take into consideration. For instance, several US states have followed in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington to legalise marijuana for recreational purposes because of considerable economic benefits.
As of today, recreational marijuana is legal in 10 US states plus Washington, DC. A Forbes article published in 2018 noted that legal marijuana gave a massive positive boost to the economy of Pueblo County, Colorado. To be precise, legalising cannabis added $58 million to the local economy.
Research by cannabis analytics firm New Frontier shows that legalising marijuana at a federal level could result in an additional $105 billion for the US in eight years. Further, it was speculated that 1 million jobs would also be created by 2025 if cannabis were to be legalised.
I know that all the research was done in the context. However, most of the economic benefits are relatable to other places as well. In Nepal’s case, the opening of legal cannabis companies is certain if we legalise its use. This will not only boost our economy, but it will also create thousands of jobs. Nepal needs to grab any opportunity of economic growth that comes its way and by legalising marijuana, we can make the most of this opportunity.
Although medical and economic advantages seem apparent, they cannot, and should not, outweigh the social aspects. This is probably the part where most people seem to disagree with me.
The main reason is that they fear that the next generation could turn into a generation of ‘addicts’. Contrary to this popular opinion, however, legalising marijuana does quite the opposite. For example, when Justin Trudeau speech declared marijuana legal in Canada, he said, “We are not legalising cannabis because we think it’s good for our health. We are doing it because we know it’s not good for our children.”
Indeed, the negative health implications will always be there in the same magnitude that they exist today. So, when governments ban its use, criminals use it to their advantages. They control the whole business and make massive profits while destroying a lot of capable minds inside the country.
However, when we legalise it, we will be taking control back from the hands of the criminals and giving it to the state which is where the authority should lie. Authorities can then impose a lot of rules as it seems fit: like having official stores to distribute it, imposing certain age thresholds, limiting the amount of the drug one can possess, and maybe having laws ensuring strict penalties for those who disobey such practices. Imposing restrictions such as this, while being logically lenient on the whole issue will allow the government to take control of the whole business
As we can see, the medical and economic benefits are abundant. To those who fear a rise in criminal activities, there is little evidence that there is a causal link between marijuana usage and increasing crime rates in the places where recreational marijuana is legal. Further, before the 70s, we used to benefit from cannabis. What stops us now? Even Hinduism does not forbid it by any means. When all of us know for a fact that people now use it all over the country, why not make it legal and earn from it? What do you think? I say let’s follow Canada.
The author is a BSJ student at Northwestern University. Views expressed in the article are personal.