Should Marijuana be made legal?
Yes, marijuana should be legal, and it is in Colorado where I live. None of the predicted social disasters have come to pass and if there has been any measurable effects, they have been positive. Drunk driving and petty crime are down a bit. We've taken away a tool that the police have traditionally used to harass blacks and other people of color, which they should never have been able to do in the first place.
Tax revenues are up significantly, which is a good thing in a fast-growing state where revenues are constitutionally limited and our schools are historically underfunded. Colorado has become one of the most attractive states for young people to move to, but we're not just getting the stoners, it's more like we're getting a lot of the best and the brightest. We seem to be "brain draining" the rest of the country to a degree that a few nearby states are complaining about it. Too bad, Kansas!
In Colorado, the production of marijuana is carefully and strictly regulated from the seed to the bud with what has become a Gold Standard for other states to copy as the legalize it. This has spawned an entire industry of consultants, experts at various stages of the process from policy to cultivation and sale that are selling their services as other states legalize, which has brought more income in to the state. We're also in the process of rewriting our banking laws in ways that could make Colorado the Switzerland of America some day.
And just so you know, I'm an old white guy that doesn't smoke.
Legalize and regulate.
This shouldn’t be much of a debate. We have a long history of lessons suggesting prohibition does not work and, conversely, creates more problems than it solves. Prohibition of alcohol (and gambling) gave rise to the mafia. Drug prohibitions gave rise to the cartels. You cannot legislate away activities that are in high demand as it simply creates a viable business model for those unconcerned with the law and willing to take high risks for high reward. On the other hand, when we allow for legal markets with oversight, the market dynamics are dramatically different; the value proposition is not simply “access to illegal markets”, but built on quality, safety, sustainability.
In short, outright prohibition breeds corrosive social effects while legalization allows for regulated access that minimizes the negative effects on society.
The legalization efforts in the US have begun to take hold. Many states legalized medical marijuana as there have been reputable studies conducted that prove the benefits of the THC. In the last 5 years 4 states have legalized recreational use of marijuana. This has sparked a lot of debate regarding the benefit and the workplace impacts of such a move.
Marijuana is still a federally registered illegal drug. Workplace policies and safety guidelines have not been revised to allow for positive drug test "exceptions" for marijuana.
At the core of all of this is the salient point that pro-legalization people like to bring up. If alcohol is legal and it is by far more damaging than marijuana then why is marijuana still illegal? The reason is not about the drug itself, it is much less pleasant to discuss. The US government benefited from the war on drugs and marijuana was the most available and widely used drug through the 50s and 60s. The desire to have nearly unlimited funding was too much to pass up for the politicians so here we are.
The next logical step would be to review medically available information on the affects of long term use of marijuana in the numerous methods of consumption. Following the results would be the development of a field sobriety test, like the ones established for alcohol. Adjustment of state laws for DUI enforcement for operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana would be needed before votes to allow recreational use. Once this framework is in place then company policy can be adjusted to reflect the business' acceptable use or prohibition position. A graphic design office would probably not have much of an issue with recreational marijuana users coming to work and even using during lunch or on break. A high voltage powerline worker rigged up on a 30 meter tower would have entirely different requirements to be completely sober and alert.
In conclusion I believe that the future will include recreational marijuana usage in all states of the US. It will become synonymous with smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, and laws will reflect equivalent penalties for driving while impaired by marijuana.