Tuesday , April 23 2024
It will be interesting to watch how more widespread acceptance and use of marijuana will affect not only state tax revenues but also the mindset of the American public.

Marijuana Goes Mainstream, But Are We Ready?

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Consume Responsibly Campaign Advertisement

There are currently 23 U.S. states that allow the use of medical marijuana, 11 that allow limited use of certain products with lowered THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), and two states that allow the production, retail, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. While legalization is creating a divide in the nation among advocates of legalization and those opposed, it raises good conversations about the impact of reducing the black market sale of marijuana and the effects of increased recreational use of the drug.

For decades, marijuana has been stigmatized as a “gateway drug” that will pull its unsuspecting victims into the depths of hard drug abuse if they’re not careful. And while a reported 9% of Americans do suffer from substance dependency on marijuana, compare that to 32% of the nation dependent on tobacco. We know the ill effects of cigarette smoke, from lung cancer to throat cancer and everything in between, but marijuana as a substance actually has benefits to our health despite its tarnished reputation of being a “drug” (as if caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine weren’t).

It seems the problem for many users and even advocates of recreational marijuana is that they simply do not understand the varying effects of marijuana on the brain that can make marijuana more easily abused as it becomes more widely available. One group, The Marijuana Policy Project, is taking action to educate the public on what it calls decades of “exaggeration, fear mongering, and condescension.” The Colorado-based group’s mission is to specifically target tourists visiting the state to enjoy the recreational use of marijuana. Since smoking is banned in almost all public places in Colorado, many people consume edible versions of marijuana, in the form of a candy bar for example, where the effects are quite different and longer-lasting than when smoked. Their campaign to educate the public on the law and the smart use of marijuana, called Consume Responsibly, will launch in Colorado with print and online ads and literature to be distributed to retailers. The group hopes to start advocating in Washington State in the next few months as well.

As marijuana in general becomes more mainstream, let’s clarify how it works, and how it doesn’t. First, consider marijuana’s effect on the brain through the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC. THC is the chemical that produces the psychological effects of cannabis, and the levels of THC are dependent upon how the marijuana plant is cultivated. THC works by attaching to receptors in the brain and stimulating the cells to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to control the brain’s “pleasure center,” giving users a feeling of happiness.

Many people do not understand that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can actually be removed entirely from marijuana, or even synthesized; take for example the drug Dronabinol, a man-made version of THC used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. It takes at least 10 micrograms of THC per kilogram of marijuana to create any sort of psychoactive effect. The message is that not all marijuana is the same, and it can be regulated.

While many advocates for the legalization of marijuana are fighting to educate the public, many others are looking to capitalize on it; just take manufacturers of the popular vaporizers. Vaporizers are most notably known for smoking tobacco, but they are actually ideal for marijuana users. Vaporizers work by heating but not burning marijuana so the user does not consume the cancer-causing carcinogens of smoking. Marijuana vaporizers are even reported to be part of the gift bags at the Oscars this February, specifically a Haze Vaporizer, by Haze Technologies, the size of a small flask, plus two bowls to either mix substances or double the effects. And after Sara Silverman showed off her “pot-filled-e-cigarette” on the Emmys red carpet, we had just one more example of how marijuana use is becoming more accepted and more common, whether we like it or not.

So, what’s next in the great marijuana debate? States up for voting on legalization of marijuana this November are Alaska, Oregon, and Florida, as well as Washington D.C. Washington D.C. voters are voting on whether to allow possession of marijuana up to two ounces, Floridians will be voting on the legalization of medical marijuana, and Alaska and Oregon are taking the approach of Washington State, looking to tax and regulate the production, sale and use of recreational marijuana.

One major draw to legalizing marijuana is tax revenue. Since legalizing the recreational use of marijuana this past July, Washington State expects to collect “taxes of $3 million on sales of $12 million as of September 8,” as it currently imposes a 25% tax on all levels of marijuana retail and production.

Colorado hasn’t done too badly either. Strictly based on sales of retail marijuana, Colorado has made about $18.9 million in state taxes since legalization in January of 2014.

While, as Adrienne Lu puts it in Stateline, “advocates of legalization say that however much tax revenue legal marijuana generates, it is money that would have otherwise ended up in the black market,” those opposed to the legalization of marijuana have another argument that revenue raised by the sale and production of marijuana will not be sufficient to cover the costs to society of increased marijuana use. This debate has no solution as it stands today but it will be interesting to watch how more widespread acceptance and use of marijuana will affect not only state tax revenues but also the mindset of the general American public.

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About Alyssa Sellors

Alyssa Sellors was an English and Journalism educator for eight years and now works as a freelance writer and journalist. She is a regular contributor to a number of publications. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband, baby boy, and two chihuahuas.

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  1. Good Blog post. Touched on many points on integration of cannabis into the current culture. While being a rather short made some good points to think on. Prohibition appears to be coming to an end. Hopefully sooner than later. We must encourage both sides to work together to help make sensibly laws and guidelines. Cannabis isn’t perfect it’s use and abuse both sides can point too as with any thing in life. Just because if it becomes legal I wouldn’t want have it fall into the hand of children or have a jetliner pilot flying stoned. Many of the issues that strike fear into the prohibitionist are issues that we agree will need to be addressed. But both sides working together giving input a common ground can and will be achieved. My view is prohibition is more of ignore the issue and hope it will go away. Hasn’t worked so time to try something else. Take care all.

    P.S appears to be a few long running scripts had to post use edit a few times to unlock the screen freeze. just a tip if others get lock out.

    • Dr Joseph S Maresca

      Legalization of pot requires rule structures just like alcohol.A rigorous system of regulation must be instituted by each of the states and localities just as with alcohol. Driver manuals must state the legal DUI limits with incremental penalties put into place for excessive use. As with alcohol, a designated driver is a must have for party people.

      This legalization effort is gathering steam because the states are benefiting from the tax revenues and possibly the reduced court case loads with fewer arrests.
      At bottom, the citizenry must be responsible ; otherwise, things may go back to the way they were before legalization. All this and more is covered in “Potzilla’s Millions-The Reality v. The Hype”.

      • Correct you should agree that full access will speed up the gathering of information and testing of equipment . Remember all the current laws and standards are a culmination of many years of research and testing. First DUI laws came into effect in 1910 and 1928 science had a breathalyzer. First units sold as portable till 1958. Even then it wasn’t till 1967 when a stabile electronic breathalyzer was there a set of guideline blood alcohol limits. Over the years these limits and standards have changed as more information and better testing methods have came to light. I should point out that cannabis has been in use all this time but little or no effort has been taken to address similar issues. Reason illegal therefore no limits required any amount arrest able offence. This is the point there is no reason to believe that any real standards or proper testing methods will be fully investigated. When in the same time frame look how much info has been gathered on alcohol. Same time frame cannabis has largely been ignore. Now suddenly prohibitionist are asking for more time to study and research the issue.
        Alcohol didn’t remain illegal while law enforcement and science implemented laws and standards. It drove the research. Without the pressure and without the information gathered could they come up with what we have? You can’t cure a virus or disease without a sample as a Dr you know that as well as I. Only from trail and error can a system be arrived. We both know there will be bumps in the road and at times road blocks. Like you stated much of the pressure will be on responsibility of the user and peer pressure from the people around them to set a responsible example. Sorry if at times my sentence structures off or improper wording. I’m a TBI DAI survivor don’t use cannabis just like debating the issue as therapy.
        Take care have a great day

        • Dr Joseph S Maresca

          All of the above sounds like really good stuff. I think that the courts are tired of cycling a huge caseload of pot offenders.The thing to do is to legalize pot and penalize its misuse. Workplaces regulate the use of alcohol by enforcing a strict code of conduct no matter what the criminal laws say. In addition, workplaces tolerate moderate drinking at corporate parties; however, people who cannot control their alcohol consumption face corporate cultural ostracizing. A similar informal code will happen with pot use. In addition, legalization will help to close state budgetary shortfalls and simultaneously cut back on police arrests and the need for incarceration.We’ll know soon enough as Colorado and Washington State weigh in on the pot compliance issues in their respective states.

          • I agree while I’m for legalization I’m not for forcing any business or work place to accept marijuana use as legal. sorry I believe while it may be legal certain instances or places should always have the right to say no. It’s a personal decision as to use or abuse and we while accepting that its a right. we must also accept an owner or corporation should have a similar right to ban it’s use. While using cannabis to fill the coffers of state or federal short falls I feel it’s a rights issue. We both agree and disagree on similar issue and both find common ground at the same time. And while you may look to Colorado and Washington as the experiment. I look too prohibition as the experiment and Colorado and Washington as new standards. lol just letting you know love the input hope others are reading
            Have a great day

          • Hey, don’t be dissin’ my 1950’s! I had a great time, using no money, just adventure and endurance. No deaths, just bluff and bluster at teen gang confrontations: “Your sister is so ugly she looks like someone beat her with an ugly stick!”, “Oh yeah! Your mom wears army boots!”.

            My cohorts and I were adept at deceiving, cheating and dissembling, so we developed a repertoire of techniques for smoking stuff by age 12, stealing a single cigarette out of an open pack left carelessly by an adult, rolling cigs from pipe tobacco, smoking ‘grapevine’ twigs from the park (they had several hollow longitudinal tubes), hiding smokes and paraphenalia in hollowed out books, etc. All were skills we found useful a few years later serving the interests of our business bosses, to redistribute wealth toward them, and use the same tactics to redistribute wealth toward ourselves. We were highly skilled little capital redistributionists.

            One saturday night our Presbyterian Youth Group went to see a documentary about the horrors of marijuana and we discovered the stuff was the same weed that was growing all over town! The film also showed exactly how to cure the weed and roll it for smoking! The rest is left as an exercise for the student.

          • But when the thrill was gone from illegal tobacco smoking I began to lose interest and quit altogether eventually (when I chose to not expose my kids to smoke). When a kid said they were smoking I said that, frankly, I couldn’t stop them, but they couldn’t smoke in my house or my car. And I said “I never met a smoker who didn’t curse the day they started.”

  2. To address a point some may have missed we must fast-forward
    back to the 1950’s here in the States. At that time, there was little drug use.
    Young people bored and seeking meaning went to the streets, with switchblade
    knives, chains, home fashioned guns, and tore one another up. Thinking was
    verboten then. Black leather was the fashion, and anyone different was subject
    to suspicion.

    Then an unexpected thing happened. With the onset of the
    sixties, leather was gone, multi-colored clothes and flowers in the hair were
    the attire of the young and “hip.” Violence was replaced by music and
    introspection. Pot — weed, reefer — became the prime catalyst in this
    peaceful transformation.

    Today the city streets are once again plagued by guns and
    killing. Maybe with some support from the media and with the re-introduction of
    marijuana, the days of peace could return.

    The only obstacle is the tendency for users to progress to
    harder drugs that promote sleeplessness, paranoia, and the associated
    brutality. Remember marijuana is the
    anti-thesis of these.

  3. Nicole Lascurain

    Hi Alyssa,

    First off, I came across your site and wanted to say thanks for providing a great health resource to the community.

    I thought you might find this marijuana infographic interesting, as it allows readers to pick the side effect they want to learn more about: http://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/marijuana/effects-on-body

    Naturally, I’d be delighted if you share this embeddable graphic on http://blogcritics.org/marijuana-goes-mainstream-but-are-we-ready/ , and/or share it with your followers on social. Either way, keep up the great work Alyssa!

    All the best,

    Nicole Lascurain • Assistant Marketing Manager

    p: 415-281-3130 | e: [email protected]

    Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health

    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

    http://www.healthline.com | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

    Healthline.com is a trusted health information resource for over 30 million people. All content undergoes a rigorous editorial process. Learn more about Healthline at: http://www.healthline.com/health/about-healthline