1. Liberty – Well a good place to start is so that we can live out our own American values of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness by respecting every individual’s liberty to make their own choices about their own body, their own time, and their own money.
2. Conservatism – Conservatives have been complaining about “the nanny state” and “big government run amok” for decades now, so here’s a chance to curtail the excesses of government overreach, something very well in line with purported conservative values.
3. Liberalism – Liberals have been vocal supporters of each individual’s right to make their own choices about their own bodies for decades now as well, so this is a chance to bring reality in line with rhetoric and let people be responsible for their own bodies.
4. Libertarianism – If you don’t like marijuana, just don’t use it. That’s a lot more simple of a solution than waging an entire war on it.
5. Consistency – Then there’s the fact that alcohol and nicotine, which are both also intoxicating substances, are legal in the United States despite the overwhelming empirical reality that they are both incredibly, incredibly destructive to health and life.
6. Not Toxic Nor Fatal – In fact according to the NIH, tobacco is the first leading preventable cause of death in America and alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death. And according to the DEA marijuana has killed exactly zero people ever in the history of the world. (Page 75 of the 2017 DEA report Drugs of Abuse)
7. Not Addictive – Not only is marijuana impossible to overdose on, unlike alcohol, according to former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana responsible for the characteristic high is not even addictive like alcohol, tobacco, or even caffeine. While consumers can become tolerant to THC (the effects of the drug diminish over repeated consumption without a “tolerance break” of a few days), it does not cause dependence (the need for the substance to avoid going through an uncomfortable or painful withdrawal) like alcohol and tobacco.
8. Does Not Cause Violence – Another quote by Joycelyn Elders from the same interview: “Nobody says that marijuana causes violence. As we know alcohol can cause much more aggressiveness. You aren’t as likely to hurt someone from using marijuana as you are from using alcohol.”
9. Not A “Gateway Drug” – “Marijuana is not a ‘gateway’ drug that predicts or eventually leads to substance abuse, suggests a 12-year University of Pittsburgh study.” [Source]
10. Your Lungs – In a rigorous twenty year study of over 5,000 men and women published in 2012 by the American Medical Association, researchers at two American universities found that casual marijuana use (defined as smoking up to a joint a week for twenty years or even a joint a day for seven years) not only doesn’t harm lung function, but “was associated with increases in lung air flow rates and increases in lung capacity.” Seriously.
11. Cancer – From Cancer.org: “More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.”
12. Chemo – Same source: “A number of small studies of smoked marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy. Smoked marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies. Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.”
13.Opiates – Legalizing marijuana provides a safer alternative to highly addictive prescription painkillers that are killing so many Americans today it has become a major public health crisis.
14. Epilepsy – CBD, one of the cannabinoids in marijuana, has been scientifically demonstrated to help treat and reduce the severity of a very terrible form of treatment resistant epilepsy that tragically mostly affects small children.
15. Alzheimer’s – Marijuana and products made from it have been used to help Alzheimer’s patients gain weight and ease some of the agitated behavior that patients experience. Scientists have also found it slows the progress of protein deposits in the brain that scientists suspect may be part of what causes Alzheimer’s.
16. Arthritis – One study found that patients treated with marijuana derivatives had less arthritis pain and slept better. Several other studies have found that marijuana may help reduce inflammation.
17. Chronic Pain – Marijuana consumption has been shown to have a substantial analgesic effect.
18. Crohn’s Disease – Researchers have found that smoking marijuana provided relief for people suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It lowered their pain, improved diarrhea symptoms, and helped patients gain weight.
20. Creativity – Researchers believe marijuana increases creativity and novel ideas by enhancing divergent thinking and the mental connection of seemingly disparate ideas.
21. Happiness – A 2017 survey study of California and Colorado residents found marijuana consumers are markedly more financially successful and satisfied with their lives than abstainers.
22. Sanjay Gupta – CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been calling for legalization since 2013: “I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have ‘no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.’ They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.”
23. The California Medical Association – Thousands of other doctors believe marijuana should be legalized and studied. According to the California Medical Association: “As physicians, we need to have a better understanding about the benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis so that we can provide the best care possible to our patients.”
24. The Constitution – Congress is only legally allowed to pass laws within the scope of the specifically enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and the 10th Amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
That’s why there had to be an entire Constitutional amendment to allow Congress to prohibit intoxicating liquors with the subsequent Volstead Act. No amendment, no prohibition. There could not be a more clear historical-legal example showing why the Controlled Substances Act of the 1970s prohibiting marijuana and other drugs is definitely unconstitutional.
25. Bill Clinton – “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and never tried it again.”
26. George W. Bush – George W. Bush has not been as forthcoming in interviews as Clinton was about his past marijuana consumption, but he admitted it to his biographer, Doug Wead (yes, it’s pronounced “weed”).
27. Barack Obama – “When I was a kid, I inhaled, frequently. That was the point.” He was actually a total pothead in college and had a group of people he regularly consumed massive amounts of weed with called “the Choom gang.” It didn’t stop him from becoming POTUS, and tragically, continuing to wage Nixon and Reagan’s ugly, harmful War on Drugs.
28. Thomas Jefferson – From High Times: “In addition to farming hemp, Jefferson was Ambassador to France during the hashish era there. At risk of imprisonment if caught, Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds from China known for their potency to America.”
29. George Washington – – George Washington grew hemp for rope, fabric, and paper, but also wrote this in a letter: “Began to separate the male from female plants rather too late… Pulling up the (male) hemp. Was too late for the blossom hemp by three weeks or a month,” indicating he may have smoked marijuana (some speculate to help with his chronic toothache) because the female plants have higher amounts of THC.
30. John Adams – Adams was a hemp enthusiast who also wrote in a column advocating for hemp production in the Boston Evening-Post in 1763: “we shall by and by want a world of Hemp more for our own consumshon.”
31. John F. Kennedy – According to John F. Kennedy: A Biography, JFK consumed marijuana to ease his back pain. One excerpt reads: “On the evening of July 16, 1962, according to [Washington Post executive] Jim Truitt, Kennedy and Mary Meyer smoked marijuana together… The president smoked three of the six joints Mary brought to him. At first he felt no effects. Then he closed his eyes and refused a fourth joint. ‘Suppose the Russians did something now,’ he said.”(!)
32. Rick Santorum – “I admitted back when I was running for the Senate that when I was in college I smoked pot, and that was something I did when I was in college, and it was something that I’m not proud of, but I did it.”
33. Portugal – Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Ten years later drug consumption in the coastal European nation had actually decreased and drug abuse was down by half.
34. Compassion – That’s because when drug abuse is treated as a health problem and not a crime problem, this more compassionate and reasonable approach gets better results. That’s why the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recommends shifting drug policy to do exactly that.
35. Violent Crime – A 2010 study released by the prestigious nonprofit, RAND Corp., indicates that stricter drug policies might actually lead to an increase in crime. The study found “that when hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries were closed last year in Los Angeles crime rates rose in surrounding neighborhoods.”
36. Organized Crime – Neill Franklin, the retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now leads Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), argues that “If we legalized and taxed drugs… we’d make society safer by bankrupting the cartels and gangs who control the currently illegal marketplace.”
If we legalize the sale of marijuana, law-abiding corporations will sell it instead of criminals. You could buy a pack of marijuana cigarettes at the 7-Eleven down the street. Against their massive economies of scale and base of capital investments, the violent drug dealer on the sidewalk would be put out of business overnight and our cities and suburbs would start becoming a lot safer.
37. National Security – In 2012, the Mexican government updated its death toll figures from the war on drugs, “reporting that 47,515 people had been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderón began a military assault on criminal cartels in late 2006.”
Critics of U.S. drug prohibition argue that the violence in Mexico is a direct result of U.S. prohibition measures, which create a black market for marijuana, a black market that Mexican criminal cartels have found lucrative, using their profits to purchase more weapons and engage in more criminal– often violent– activity. It’s becoming a national security issue.
38. Outlaws – To borrow a common argument from Second Amendment supporters: If you outlaw the sale of marijuana, only outlaws will profit from the sale of marijuana. And they will use those profits to fund other criminal activities and to protect the profits themselves, violently if necessary.
39. Harmless – Research emphatically shows marijuana consumption does not cause psychosis (disordered thinking leading to a break with reality).
40. Helpful – In fact CBD, one of the other psychoactive compounds in marijuana may even lessen psychotic symptoms in suffering patients, leading researchers to say it holds potential for use as an anti-psychotic.
41. Peaceful – Dozens of studies have shown that marijuana does not increase violent crime, and actually has a pacifying effect on people inclined to violence.
A review of the evidence in a National Academy of Sciences study on violence concluded, “The majority of the evidnece in experimental studies with animals and humans, as well as most data from chronic users, emphasizes that cannabis preparations (e.g., marihuana, hashish) or THC decrease aggressive and violent behavior.”
42. Chill – On the other hand, alcohol, which is legal in the United States, is well documented to increase violent incidents with aggressive people by lowering their inhibitions and impairing their judgment. A 2003 article from the journal, Addictive Behaviors noted that “alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence relationship,” and that “cannabis reduces likelihood of violence during intoxication.”
43. Compassion – Although there is little evidence that marijuana use increases the likelihood of criminal behavior, marijuana convictions are definitely likely to ruin lives and expose people to a life of crime behind bars. State laws differ, but in some places, possessing just one marijuana joint can be punishable by up to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
44. Racism – An ACLU report, which sorted marijuana arrests by race and county in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, revealed that black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than white people. So it’s a violation of liberty that happens to a historically oppressed racial minority in marked disproportion to their numbers.
45. Football – The NFL prohibits players from consuming marijuana, but one former player says about half of all NFL players smoke marijuana. Needless to say, professional football is one of the most demanding and competitive activities in the world and its athletes are peak performance individuals. It’s proof that marijuana doesn’t decrease an individual’s productivity or dull their skills.
46. Efficacy – One oft-cited study found that prohibition doesn’t seem to have a deterrent effect on the insatiable demand for this highly valued plant: “Fear of arrest, fear of imprisonment, the cost of cannabis or its availability do not appear to exert much effect on the prevalence of cannabis use.”
47. Weddings – A couple years back Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said, “If I’m at a wedding reception here and somebody has a drink or two, most people wouldn’t say they’re wasted. Most folks with marijuana wouldn’t be sitting around a wedding reception smoking marijuana.” Wedding and chill. Great wedding idea, governor!
48. The Children – Nearly a decade after Portugal decriminalized all drugs a white paper by the Cato Institute reported that drug use by seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined.
49. Savings – An ACLU study found that marijuana law enforcement cost states an estimated $3.6 billion in 2010.
50. Revenue – A report from New Frontier Data estimates the cannabis industry could generate $131.8 billion in federal tax revenue and add 1.1 million jobs by 2025 if it’s legalized for adult use in all 50 states.
51. Popular Sovereignty – “Americans continue to warm to legalizing marijuana, with 64% now saying its use should be made legal. This is the highest level of public support Gallup has found for the proposal in nearly a half-century of measurement.”
52. State Sovereignty – With 30 states having legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal consumption, it’s time for the federal government to back off drug policy and let states decide for themselves.
53. Reform – The War on Drugs is a staggering policy failure. Shockingly, in the United States, there is a drug arrest every 19 seconds, making for a total of 1.6 million drug arrests in 2010 alone. The FBI also reports that 81.9% of all drug-related arrests in 2010 were for simple possession, not drug dealing, and 45.8% of all drug-related arrests were for possession of marijuana. After this many decades, this many arrests, this many wasted dollars, and this many ill-effects of the War on Drugs, does any serious policy analyst, pundit, or politician actually claim that the world’s half-century experiment in drug prohibition has worked?
54. Focus – With all these resources and time spent on persecuting non-violent drug consumers, there is a tremendous opportunity cost for justice and speedy trials, including a notorious rape kit back log, prison overcrowding, and an overtaxed court system.
55. Enjoyment – Mayo Clinic reports, “Cannabis sativa is widely used recreationally (inhaled or taken by mouth) to achieve increased feelings of well-being.”
56. Humanity – “It was terrible. It was the most frightening experience of my life. I thought it was a terrorist attack.” -Leona Goldberg, an 82-year-old survivor of a drug raid on the wrong house. Leona was scared and confused when six policemen with riot shields and assault weapons charged into her Brooklyn apartment and ordered her husband, Martin, to the floor. Martin, a decorated World War II vet, was 84-years-old when the raid happened.
57. Sanity – According to investigative journalist and former Cato Policy analyst Radley Balko, “…the vast majority of paramilitary raids are executed against drug offenders, and many of those against marijuana offenders with no history of violence. Which means that far from defusing violent situations, most SWAT raids actually create them.”
58. Prisons – The US has less than 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners. Half a million people were locked up for marijuana offenses in 2008. In 2016, there was a drug arrest every 20 seconds, feeding this prison overpopulation problem.
59. Pat Robertson – Even the Moral Majority televangelist thinks marijuana should be legalized: “We’re locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana and the next thing you know they’ve got ten years, they’ve got mandatory sentences, and these judges just say- they throw up their hands and say there’s nothing we can do, it’s mandatory sentences. We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes, and that’s one of them. I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kind of thing, it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people.” If even Pat is ready to legalize, it’s time.
60. The Flower – This short cartoon is one of the best arguments for legalizing marijuana ever made: