Young people between 10 and 24 exhibit excellent potential in the current generation. However, this generation also has to deal with a lot of alcohol and drug abuse, which slows down the rate at which they achieve goals. In the United States, cannabis is heavily used by adults and adolescents. It is essential to realize that the laws in the United States related to the use of marijuana continue to change, and a majority of the population is in favor of cannabis being legalized for both recreational and medical uses. Many people have stated that the use of cannabis causes harm, while others highlight that there are no side effects to using cannabis. A nation needs to offer adequate help to young people so they can grow and attain their total growth as they get into adulthood. In some states, marijuana use is legalized; others allow its use when it comes to medical treatments, and other states do not permit it. Using academic articles, this paper will pay close attention to why and how the legalization of cannabis differs from previous “war on drugs” and prohibition policies.
Fig 1: Legalization of cannabis by state
Even though cannabis is banned at the federal level, in 2012, reforms were made, allowing eleven states out of fifty to legalize it for adults. Out of the eleven states, nine of them authorized that cannabis should be produced and sold to private operators (Obradovic, 2020). Further, 33 states authorized the use of cannabis for medical reasons. Obradovic (2020) noted that a quarter of America’s population is currently going through a regime of legalizing cannabis for the use of cannabis for adults. In the world today, cannabis has been decriminalized. This has been done by reducing criminal sentences, changing all the applicable penalties, and lifting other kinds of bans. Unlike the former prohibition policies used in the United States, the legalization of cannabis promotes the production, sale, and purchase of cannabis. There is also limited access to substances, which ensures the protection of minors and ensures that states can earn revenue from its sale. In many states where cannabis is legalized, it is sold exclusively to individuals above the age of 21. However, recreational use of cannabis is allowed only in private places.
Obradovic (2020) stated that there are two major distribution channels for cannabis: home cultivation and the sale of cannabis in particular stores. However, even with its legalization, there are still several laws put in place for states that are yet to legalize the use of cannabis. There is no strict governing of the medical use of cannabis. One of the significant features concerning the legalization of cannabis is that people have a right to sell various types of cannabis products. Unlike the former regime, many states allow not only the sale of cannabis but also the different types of cannabinoids that are designed to be ingested, vaporized, inhaled or applied to the skin. It is essential to note that in many states, authorities can be authorized to prohibit or limit the sale of cannabis in stores. This brings about much difference in the implementation of this policy. There are different kinds, types, and varieties of licenses used in every state for one to join the cannabis market.
Carliner et al. (2017) stated that it is difficult to determine the effect of state-level marijuana legalization on cannabis use. Research shows that there are higher records of teenagers who consume marijuana in states that have passed medical marijuana laws than those non-medical marijuana laws. However, it is difficult to conclude because it is likely that these states already had high use of marijuana. However, there is limited information on the recreational use of marijuana in relation to adolescents (Carliner et al., 2017). Even though cannabis was initially legalized for medical reasons, many people, both adults and adolescents, have shown more consumption of cannabis, and it is also said to have little to no risk. However, the use of cannabis is associated with several risks.
It is difficult to define what the change in policies has done to the general population of the United States because laws often vary between states. It is essential to note that before laws supporting the use of marijuana were passed, there was a low population of people who took part in its use. However, with the passing of these laws, people find it easy to access the drugs as they are readily available in the majority of the states. As earlier mentioned by Carliner et al. (2017), the use of marijuana has a significant impact on people’s health behavior. However, this may not be seen immediately. There is, therefore, a need to pay close attention to this issue and figure out how it can be resolved.
Pacula & Smart (2019) stated that several reasons led to the rise in the need for marijuana to be legalized, one being the rising budgetary needs that were related to increased arrests and nonviolent drug offenders. There was also a rise in the information that illustrated that cannabis has many health benefits and also the strained state budget needs that have made states look for extra sources of revenue. Similar to Arliner et al. (2017), this article noted that with the continuous changes in MMLS, there is also a rise in its use. During the times that cannabis started to be legalized, definitions were clear on what is legal supply, which then inhibited formal state regulations for producers. However, this changed drastically as supply channels dramatically changed over time, and laws stopped being as strict.
Unlike previous times, the legalization of marijuana use responded more to the changes that happened in terms of the policy as the drug availability kept on changing. The size and structure of medical marijuana markets continued to change. There was a considerable difference between the laws implemented in the past and those implemented now concerning marijuana legalization. After carrying out this analysis, it is clear that the use of cannabis is rampant in the United States and heavily affects both adults and adolescents. The legalization of cannabis has both advantages and disadvantages, and it needs to be looked at keenly, as the more use, the more adverse effects. The laws in relation to its use need to be amended to include how its supply can be controlled.
Carliner, H., Brown, Q. L., Sarvet, A. L., & Hasin, D. S. (2017, November). Cannabis use, attitudes, and legal status in the U.S.: A review. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6348863/
Obradovic, I. (2020, July). Cannabis legalization in the United States Towards a regulated market? ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342956112_Cannabis_legalisation_in_the_United
Pacula, R. L., & Smart, R. (2019, May). Medical marijuana and marijuana legalization. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6358421/