Marijuana Legalization: Why The Drug Is Still Stigmatized [Report]

Chanel Adams

Marijuana legalization has only gone so far in the country. Only four states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, while 23 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

On Thursday, July 30, the Senate panel voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana for the very first time. In addition, the Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 for an amendment that would allow marijuana businesses to apply for funds from federal banking services.

This amendment will help states where marijuana is legal, like Colorado; integrate marijuana into their local economies. For over four years, there have been complex laws that have declared a war against marijuana and hardcore drugs. It started on May 26, 1971 when President Richard Nixon told chief of staff Bob Haldeman that he wanted to go to war against the plant-derived drug.

The summer of 2015 may be seen as the fight against Nixon's war against marijuana. It seems like the nation's views on the drugs have changed in just a year. After President Barack Obama said he thinks marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.

But why is pot still stigmatized? There have been concerns over the impact on the youth who live in states where there's medical marijuana and legalization of the drug. However, a 2010 school-based survey called "Monitoring the Future," which examined California's decision to decriminalize the drug in 2010. The study found that there was only a 25 percent increase of marijuana use after the law changed.

Some would argue that marijuana legalization is useless and "makes no sense." According to San Diego Union-Tribune contributors, David W. Murray and John P. Walters, regulating the use and distribution of marijuana is useless since there are no facts to support whether or not the drug is safe to use. The writers noted that they don't even believe in the benefits of medical marijuana.

"If marijuana legalization were a good idea, the facts would support it, and the arguments of advocates wouldn't be so lame."

Legalizing and regulating marijuana will create jobs and improve the economy. It will also save $7.7 billion in enforcement costs and allow authorities to focus on more important crimes and laws. Marijuana should be regulated like cigarettes and alcohol. That means the person would need to posses a medical marijuana card or be 18 or older to purchase and use the drug.

But it seems like congress, state officials, and everyone in between can't seem to get past the stigma that comes with smoking marijuana. The millions of Americans who smoke pot aren't criminals or bad folks. Some use it recreationally and responsibly, while others use it to treat health conditions such as cancer or anxiety.

[Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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