Many reasons have led countries, and various states in the United States of America to work towards the decriminalization of marijuana.
According to the BBC, one of the reasons was its growing need in the medical field as pain medication. Patients with illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, headaches and nerve pain are prescribed medical marijuana ease their pain.
Another reason for the push towards legalization is the failed war on drugs which only exacerbated the racial bias against black and brown people. America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), stated in their document, The War on Marijuana in Black and White that Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to get arrested for marijuana possession.
As for Canada, the cannabis reform was a way to cut out criminal involvement which will, in turn, reduce its accessibility to the youth. Although, some critics doubt the government's reasons because most cannabis traders have no ties to any organized crime syndicate and it's hopes in stifling the black market have gone on actualized.
Admittedly, these reasons for the legalization are great but, why was it prohibited in the first place and who is currently benefitting from its recent decriminalization.
Some Truth about the Prohibition of Cannabis
In the 17th century, cannabis was legal and cultivated in large farms. Back then it was used to make ropes, fabric and for medicinal purposes as well. Towards the early 19th century, it had become widely used as a recreational drug, enjoyed in hashish parlors.
However, in the early 1900s, the rise in migration of Mexicans into El Paso, Texas, led the media to spew xenophobic rhetoric against them and their ways, thereby causing El Paso to outlaw the use of cannabis.
Who Gains From The Legalization of Cannabis?
It would be nice to think of the move towards a cannabis reform as the government just trying to make the world a better place, but is that truly the case?
There are three groups of beneficiaries in the cannabis reform "gainers table", and they are:
Although there isn't enough information on how much corporations are benefitting from the cannabis reform, we know it's been more than 10.4 Billion according to 2018 industry earning reports.
The users of marijuana gain from the cannabis reform in two ways. First is the safety they get buying from dispensaries instead of from drug trafficking organizations. The Independent reported a 12.5% drop in the rate of violent crimes such as robberies, murders and aggravated assaults as a result of people not buying from drug traffickers.
The second gain is that the quality of the product has improved since traders are now under strict regulations, unlike the drug traffickers who had to cut corners to make a profit.
Of all three gainers of the cannabis reform, the government is by far the highest gainer. The government has benefited by earning more tax revenues, creating jobs and saving money spent on marijuana law enforcement.
Illinois, for example, taxes the marijuana industry a whopping 30 per cent and Canada realized 32million CAD from cannabis excise duty with projections of making more as new dispensaries open in the future.
In California, the government has put in place several taxes such as cultivation tax, cannabis excise tax, sales, and use tax.
The marijuana industry created over 200,000 jobs in 2018, causing a reduction in the level of unemployment. A perfect tool the current government could use to seek reelection.
The legalization of cannabis is helping the government to cut down on spending because according to CNBC, the government spends an estimated $3.6billion on marijuana enforcement.
The Dark Horse
The least spoken beneficiaries of the cannabis reform are the victims of marijuana enforcement. These are people who are currently serving sentences in prisons for the possession of cannabis.
For this reason, we chose to support The Last Prisoner Project, which is a charity working to help release prisoners, clear their records through clemency and expungement, and carry out reentry programs.
Please check them out and see the work they're doing to help reform the criminal justice system.