The Left is mostly in favor of recreational legalization (83%; Gallup), citing increased tax revenues & economic benefits, less strain on criminal justice resources due to less marijuana-related incarcerations, and that legalization is inevitable due to a massive shift in public opinion on the subject (for a variety of posited reasons).

“A decade ago, no states allowed marijuana for recreational use; the first states to legalize cannabis in 2012, Colorado and Washington, did so through voter-driven initiatives.

Now, 17 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana (although DC doesn’t yet allow sales), with five enacting their laws through legislatures, showing even typically cautious politicians are embracing the issue.

At this point, the question of nationwide marijuana legalization is more a matter of when, not if…

…There are a few possible explanations for the flip.

The general failure of the war on drugs to actually stop widespread drug addiction (see: the opioid epidemic), as well as backlash to the punitive policies the drug war brought, left a lot of Americans craving new approaches.

The public has come to see marijuana as not so bad — less harmful than legal drugs such as alcohol or tobacco. The advent of the internet likely sped up some of these conversations, too, and the spread of medical marijuana might have shown more Americans that the US can handle the drug’s legalization.”

German Lopez, Vox

“The states that have legalized cannabis and related products have seen a steady surge in associated economic activity and revenues, reporting tax income of over $2 billion collectively in 2019. Entrepreneurs, too, are seeing opportunity as the demand for cannabis has led to lucrative business ventures within the supply chain, including plant cultivation, extraction of medicinal compounds, and retail product packaging.

It is also creating workforce demands. According to reports by Forbes, the legal cannabis industry generated approximately 300,000 jobs in 2019. Over half of those jobs include professional workers such as accountants, lab workers, managers, and tax experts.”

Magnus Thorsson & Michael Budziszek, Providence Journal

“Political opponents of reform are acutely aware that they have lost their war on marijuana and their public pronouncements seem to become more absurd by the day. For example, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) recently alleged, ‘If you legalize marijuana, you’re going to kill your kids.’ Some television commentators have made outlandish claims.

Yet despite these large advances in states around the country, there is still much more work to be done and policy reform to be won before otherwise law-abiding Americans are no longer at risk of arrest and incarceration for simple marijuana possession.

In the most recent data provided by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 545,602 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2019.

For context, that is 9 percent higher than the total number of persons arrested for the commission of violent crimes.”

Justin Strekal, The Hill

Almost half of the Right is in favor of recreational legalization (48%; Gallup), citing reasons similar to the Left as well as freedom of choice. They warn the current friction between federal and state marijuana regulation restricts weed entrepreneurs from accessing the most basic of banking services to run their businesses. Those not in favor (and some who are) warn the potential dangers associated with marijuana usage are understated.

“Despite its reputation as a drug for gentle, zonked-out hippies, marijuana use is strongly associated with the likelihood to commit weapons offenses, according to the National Institutes for Health. A major study by Oxford researchers found that marijuana use boosts the odds of violent behavior among people with psychotic disorders.

The city is already beset with thousands of untreated mentally ill individuals — is it so wise to be cultivating more?

Proponents of pot have long insisted that weed is wondrous medicine and can treat or cure everything from nausea to epilepsy to lupus to insomnia, with zero side effects or risk of overdose. But does it make sense that a powerful medicine could also be harmless? Sounds like a snake-oil pitch.

Advocates laugh at the idea that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” But find one serious drug addict who didn’t start out on pot. I’ll wait.”

Seth Barron, NY Post

“It is hard to get precise figures for obvious reasons, but Marijuana Business Daily, an industry trade publication, estimates that about 70 percent of America’s cannabis industry is operating without any access to even the most basic banking services.

Beyond the fundamentals like having a checking account, processing credit cards, and paying taxes, that means cannabis businesses have a harder time getting access to capital to cover start-up costs or pay for expansions. “For smaller growers, especially, that might mean they aren’t able to keep up,” says Fox. Unless you have a deep-pocketed investor or have been around long enough to build up cash reserves, the lack of banking access means most weed businesses can’t scale up.

This lack of access can also be dangerous. Since many pot shops have to operate as cash-only businesses, they are obvious targets for actual criminals.”

Eric Boehm, Reason

“In recent years, the debate over recreational marijuana use has created the impression that cannabis is less harmful than it is. Words like “recreational” sound safe, yet cannabis use increases the risk of depression, suicide, psychosis, cognitive impairment and worsened academic performance in youths.

Since the state of Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana, studies have shown that 23% of youths who committed suicide had marijuana in their systems — up from 14%. We have also seen reports of very young children accidentally ingesting edible marijuana products, such as brownies and chocolates, which can appear to be normal-looking treats.

Teenage marijuana usage in Connecticut has remained at a relatively low and steady rate, hovering around 16% from 2008 to 2018, according to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. However, the DMHAS study also saw a 10% spike in usage from the 18-25 age group, with nearly half of that group using marijuana in 2018.

Legalizing recreational use will likely boost those numbers, as studies show that cannabis user disorder in young people has grown 25% in states that have legalized marijuana.”

Dr. Gregory Shangold, Hartford Courant