Cannabis legalization is driven by a complex trade-off between costs and societal harms. Compared to alcohol and tobacco, the societal costs of cannabis use dwarf these of those products. The trade-off between costs and societal harms is complex, but the benefits outweigh the downsides for society.
The benefits of legalized cannabis are numerous and they will continue to grow with the public’s acceptance. Users may avail seeds at any cannabis seed banks online, grow them at the comfort of their home and reap its benefits.
The VA’s policies won’t change until federal marijuana laws permit its use, but lawmakers have renewed their efforts to address the issue. Bipartisan bills are in the works that would increase access to medical marijuana for veterans and require VA research into the drug.
Many disabled veterans who left the military are pushing for the legalization of cannabis for medical use in veterans’ care. These veterans suffered from combat post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, insomnia, and epilepsy.
The shift in Republican support for marijuana legalization is less about individual beliefs than the political climate. In the recent election, Republicans voted for legalization in five out of seven states and in North Dakota, the GOP has embraced legalization, with 39% of registered voters favoring it. While the GOP majority in the Senate supports legalization, only 26% support it for personal use. And that doesn’t mean that it’s a clear majority in the House, with Republicans still waiting for a popular vote from their constituents.
Republicans have entered the marijuana group chat, bringing their principles and constituents with them. One such bill, the Mace bill, is currently in the House and backed by veterans groups, medical marijuana parents, and Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity. Most GOP marijuana bills include a lower tax rate and a less restrictive regulatory approach, while still maintaining the elements that most voters support. This trend is likely to continue to rise in the coming months.
In addition to the legalization process, many states have implemented social equity programs for minority cannabis business owners. Some of these programs offer reduced licensing fees, low-interest loans, or the opportunity to set up shop with established cannabis companies. Social equity success is dependent on judicial reform, which improves employability for previously incarcerated individuals and removes barriers to housing and other benefits. For example, the NACB has advocated for the automatic expungement of marijuana-related crimes.
While many states have begun setting aside licensing space for underrepresented operators, these programs have generally failed to produce any minority owners. Although they may look pretty, many set-aside programs were sold to non-minority businesses. Moreover, these programs typically don’t kick in until cannabis sales tax revenue starts flowing in. However, some states are starting to address this issue, and advocates are watching closely. In New York, the new law for marijuana business ownership contains an equity component with low-interest loans and grants. In New York, business incubator programs are also included.
Expungement of criminal records in cannabis law makes the process of removing a conviction easier for individuals. It allows an individual to truthfully deny the existence of an offense, lifting the practical barrier to employment and removing personal branding as a criminal. Furthermore, expungement acknowledges the mistakes of prior repressive cannabis laws. While a process like this can be time-consuming and expensive, it is worth the effort to remove such a life-altering consequence.
As long as the person in question meets the eligibility requirements, the criminal record can be expunged. If a person meets the criteria, they don’t need to hire a lawyer or appear in court. Expungement is not a legal process, but it does require a good deal of crunching the numbers and learning about legal jargon. However, if an individual qualifies for expungement, they need not fear that their conviction will be a public record. Criminal justice advocates worked hard to pass the cannabis legalization legislation, and they know how to make it happen.