Michigan is one of 21 states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.
As more and more states move toward legalizing marijuana, what impact could federal legalization have on states like Michigan? And what are the pros and cons of instituting legalization nationwide?
Federally, cannabis is still illegal. Governor Whitmer of Michigan is among those who have called for legalizing marijuana nationwide.
Pros of legalizing marijuana nationally:
1.) One of the positive impacts for Michigan in particular, could be increased revenue from cannabis.
From the time the licensed market opened in December 2019 to September 2020, Michigan reported $341 million in recreational marijuana sales.
2.) Opening doors for banking institutions to feel safer working with recreational cannabis businesses.
This is a change Governor Whitmer thinks would be very helpful to Michigan businesses. Currently, banks are limited federally from banking with cannabis businesses. This means that many state-licensed businesses that sell cannabis are limited or unable to utilize electronic payments, credit cards, use checks, and more. This pushes some dispensaries toward a cash-only model, which brings its own complications, making it harder for the state to benefit from cannabis taxes and also making it more inconvenient for customers to shop there.
3.) Federal legalization ensures that cannabis can be safely regulated.
There are increasing concerns over the danger of high levels of THC in products and its impact on consumers, particularly teenagers and young people.
Federal regulation would put into place the ability to safely and legally regulate cannabis products across the board.
4.) There would be no more concerns over problematic enforcement of laws against marijuana.
Cannabis laws are often enforced in ways that have a racially imbalanced application and effect and many cannabis laws have racist inequalities written into them. Check out this article for a history of how cannabis laws have been particularly weaponized against Black and Latinx people.
5.) Many Americans support legal recreational marijuana. The tide of acceptance has certainly shifted and most folk agree it should be legal at least medically, and often recreationally as well.
Cons of legalizing marijuana nationally:
1.) If marijuana is legalized, the demand for the plant would grow, and growing marijuana can be bad for the environment, especially with the use of pesticides.
2.) Cultivating cannabis produces a lot of waste (although no more than other manufacturing businesses, like food).
Chemicals used to extract THC can often be toxic or flammable, and various parts of the marijuana plant (like stalks/wastewater/leaves) may be considered hazardous waste. The more common violations with the EPA, regarding cannabis, are caused by the improper disposing of cannabis waste.
3.) For folks who are concerned about cannabis use, legalizing marijuana recreationally could lead to an increase in the number of cannabis users.
Tell us what you think? Let us know any additional pros or cons by adding them in the comments!