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Some things you’ve heard about legalizing cannabis just aren’t true. Legalizing the herb won’t cause mayhem and teens aren’t going to reverse back into some scary, 1930s Reefer Madness-type craze. The naysayers have it all wrong. Move over Fox News. Many concerned about legalization have got some things just plain wrong. These legalization myths are the biggest mainstream concerns over cannabis legalization. The next time you hear one of these lies, it’s time to whip out some cold hard facts.Here are the top five lies about cannabis legalization. 

1. More teen use

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Legalization means increased regulation. More regulation makes cannabis harder to access. Right now, teens can find cannabis more easily than they can find alcohol. Why is that? The black market for alcohol production is practically non-existant these days. When the black market flourishes, everything is fair game. Selling some herb to a 13-year-old? No problem.

Regulating cannabis like alcohol undercuts the black market and makes is much harder to purchase the herb. You will have to go to a specific access point and show an ID.

2. Increased crime rates

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Colorado saw a significant decrease in crime rates the year of legalization. Sure, legalizing something that was once illegal technically reduces crime. That’s not the kind of crime we’re talking about.

Violent crime decreased by 2.2%, burglaries by 9.5%, and overall property crimes by 8.9%. The scientific connection between cannabis use and reduced crime isn’t quite clear yet. But, it makes sense that a herb that encourages you to snuggle up on the couch and order pizza is far from a rage-inducing, criminal-making machine.

3. Dangerous roads

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Research conducted in 2014 also found that traffic fatalities went down the year Colorado legalized cannabis. However, this is unlikely to have a causal relationship. Studies thus far have been inconclusive about whether or not cannabis is linked to more of traffic fatalities. Alcohol, on the other hand, contributes to 25% of all traffic accidents. Yet, you don’t want to smoke the herb and get behind the wheel.

While this may be a concern, prevention, and educational campaigns greatly improve traffic safety. Campaigns similar to those for drinking and driving can also greatly improve road safety. Ads against drinking and driving reduced fatalities by 30% after launch.

Regardless of the herb’s present illegality, you can guarantee that there are some high drivers out there as we speak. Investing in safe driving campaigns can greatly improve traffic safety from where it stands today. Opting for an approach that encourages people to avoid driving for a few hours post smoke-sesh is far preferable to ignoring the issue altogether.

New technology and blood testing advancements will also help make the roads safer from those using all sorts of substances.

4. Worsening public health

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Medical marijuana clinics exist for a reason. They help to improve public health by giving people access to more effective medicines with fewer side effects. Right off the bat, this is an improvement to our society.

Cannabis is also a much safer alternative to common substances like alcohol and tobacco. Cannabis is not associated with the violent crime like alcohol. Even if you smoke the herb, you do not face greater risks of lung cancer.

Cannabis is not toxic, and there has yet to be a single death associated with the herb. Using the plant does not lead to life-endangering liver damage over time like alcohol does.

Politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren have also made the case that legalizing cannabis can help with the opioid crisis. Prescription opioid abuse kills thousands of people each year. Cannabis can provide a safer alternative, which is much-needed given the heroin epidemic currently coursing through the US. This is yet another improvement to public health.

Though the overall health risks are still being debated, even Obama has admitted that the herb is no more dangerous than intoxicants we already allow.

5. High enforcement costs

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Will legalizing and regulating cannabis cost more than keeping it illegal? Umm… No. The War on Drugs has been coined a “trillion dollar failure.” On average, it costs $31,000 to keep one person in prison for an entire year. Between arrests, incarceration, and all of the dollars wasted away by bureaucratic nonsense, cannabis law enforcement costs states about $3.6 billion dollars a year.

Recreational cannabis is only legal in four states, but the industry’s earnings are projected to reach $6.7 billion this year. Colorado not only cut down on law enforcement costs after legalization, but they have earned more than $135 million in taxes and fees.

So, legalizing cannabis increases tax revenue from sales, creates economy-boosting jobs, adds billions of dollars in earnings to the economy, and drastically drives down law enforcement costs. Let’s face it, the cost of enforcement is really a non-argument when it comes to cannabis legalization.

These legalization myths are nothing more than “reefer madness” type propaganda. The benefits of cannabis legalization are immense. From improved public health, decreased crime, and a huge bump in state tax revenue, there’s really no excuse not to legalize.

Have you heard any of these legalization lies? Share your story with us on social media or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Anna Wilcox

Anna Wilcox is a Pacific Northwest native with a passion for cannabis and natural health. Contact her on Twitter @delilahbfield.
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