Of all the debate, especially lately, revolving around the legalization of marijuana, an impact often overlooked is the economic effects such a large legislative change would bring. And when analyzed the most likely end result is that it would be one of positive reverberations.
The economic benefits of legalizing marijuana are larger than passing thought would give or even assume. The first action that would have to be done would be the release of people in jail for marijuana related charges, from dealers, traffickers, and users. If convicted for other drug charges, they stay, that’s another debate for another time.
Critics say that such a large scale change in legislature cannot be handled by the government over night. Correct, this is not a flip of the switch fix, but it would have to start somewhere. First benefit of this is the pressure release on the nation’s overcrowded prison system, immediate relief there. If the government does need more man power to handle the effort, pull from the rising unemployment pool. If the government wants to be the lead horse in our economic world then they can start the stimulus, sounds only fair right? These newly employed individuals then spend their money on all the usual goods the average citizen does, in turn benefitting the economy.
Legalization of marijuana should not stop at the consumption, but production as well, albeit it under much regulation. Marijuana can be turned into a regularly consumed, but regulated luxury good such as cigarettes and alcohol. This would create a spark of tangible growth for the weakened economy.
Facilities would be opened for the legitimate production of marijuana, creation of businesses and vendors that serve the needs of these facilities, and so on and so forth down the industrial line. This would bring about purchasing of materials, marketing investments, and potential large scale brand name marijuana vendors nationally.Its also importan that companies must stop drug testing their employees.
These businesses would be American based, paying American taxes. People aren’t potentially sending their money out of country where it fuels a drug lord’s terrorized ruling of an impoverished third world nation’s people. Most likely the sale would be regulated with a decided upon age limit around or the same as alcohol or tobacco.
Federal and local governments can reroute money from the war on marijuana and direct it elsewhere, such as our underfunded school systems and aging infrastructure. Less money may also be needed for the newly load-lightened prison system, with a sudden decrease in all the costs associated with keeping a person in prison.
Creation of marijuana bars would be one example of a business that could come about with the legalization of weed. One only has to look at Amsterdam’s growing economy to see the benefits. America is such a major nation it would not be labeled with a moniker such as ‘that place where weed is legal’ as some think of Amsterdam. The building of these bars or restoration of vacated buildings are obvious benefits which would resonate throughout local economies.
The medical industry, although generally seen as opponents of marijuana legalization, could even embrace the expanded acceptance, new opportunities and invest more research into the benefits of marijuana. Potential scenarios could be the breeding of the plants to target symptoms, as different weed has varying effects on the body.
Once again, this research could lead to the creation of facilities and jobs, all while promoting a safe, organically created substance. It would be beneficial for anyone who cannot afford prescription medicine. If the point of a medication is to alleviate symptoms, why not an already known, Earth made product.
If marijuana does this for someone, then it should be there option to choose the medicine that benefits them as they see best. It would be cheaper than pharmaceutical medication that regular kills people from overdoses.
There are many more benefits not touched on here, and that very fact shows the wide stretching positive economic effects that could potentially come about with the legalization of marijuana. America was founded on freedom of choice in our personal lives. And to deny another man something that grows from the Earth seems to go against a fundamentally understood concept around since our primitive days. Legalization of marijuana would not be a silver bullet aimed at stimulating the economy, but it would be another round in the clip this new administration is going to need.
Medical marijuana has grown increasingly common in Washington State since a law was passed in 1998 making it legal under certain conditions. The closing of medical marijuana dispensaries in Federal Way Washington state had prompted many to rethink just how legal it is. The biggest issue that medical marijuana currently faces in Washington State is the interpretation of the laws surrounding it.
The Status of Medical Marijuana
Currently, medical marijuana is allowed in Washington State under a patient/provider framework. Each patient must get their doctors recommendation in order to become a recipient of medical marijuana. Each provider must have a patient that agrees to become their patient. They then must operate within the state laws for the amounts of medical marijuana that they can provide.
The problem with current statutes on medical marijuana is the ambiguity that one specific clause creates. This clause states that each provider can provide for “one patient at a time”. It does not designate exactly what “at a time” means. Many lawyers, providers, and patients have interpreted this to mean that you can only provide to one person at that instance in time. For example, you sell to one patient before you sell to another a minute later. Reading the law, this is an extremely fair interpretation of it.
Issues arise when we start to look at the way the other side interprets the same section. Federal Way police have decided in this one example that “one patient at a time” means that the provider may have only one patient total. Dispensaries in Federal Way are having issues because-among other reasons- interpreting this law can be performed in different manners. The closing of medical marijuana dispensaries in February of 2011 illustrates this dilemma.
Federal and State Status
Although the Obama administration decided in early 2011 that it would no longer prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries, states and municipalities can do so. In Washington State, areas that suffer severe gang problems have often chosen to do this because they are afraid that medical marijuana dispensaries could serve as a gateway for more gang violence.
Areas such as Tacoma have a record of crime and rising gang violence; municipalities are justifiably afraid that gangs could take over dispensaries-or target them. Because of the difficulty involved in starting a dispensary-and the strong chances of municipalities misinterpreting Washington State law- many dispensaries do not operate on a completely legal status in Washington State.
Current legislation places dispensaries in a legal grey area where they either cannot follow the law or are strongly impeded from doing so. In the town of Mount Lake Terrace, the municipality has decided that there will be no medical marijuana dispensaries.
The closing of medical marijuana dispensaries in Federal Way has a greater significance for Washington State as a whole. As more dispensaries start up, they are met with a double edged sword. If they operate according to the letter of the law, law enforcement agencies know of their existence and can use them as example cases.
If they choose to operate under the table, they are free from targeted persecution, but are operating illegally. Dispensaries are left with a choice then between operating illegally or becoming targets for vigilante law enforcement groups. The worst of it though, is where it leaves the patients. Medical marijuana had been legalized so that patients with no other option have something to ease their pain. Without a dispensary to buy from, they are left with no options.
Although many undoubtedly getting medical marijuana who do not strictly require it, it is not them that modern medicine seeks to serve .There will always be people willing to take advantage of medically prescribed Morphine or Vicadin-yet we still prescribe these drugs.
Modern science realizes that there are practical uses for these drugs as there is to medical marijuana. The best way to protect against illicit use of any drug is by better regulation and practice, not by outlawing it. Current lobbyist groups in Washington State seek to do just that by taking away the grey area. Although the closing of medical marijuana dispensaries has recently captured the public eye, it is merely an example of a broader problem.