Changes in Marijuana Laws and Public Opinion

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As we progress further into an election year, the call for the legalization of marijuana is being pushed with greater frequency to the forefront of political discourse. There are impassioned arguments on each side concerning whether it is in our country's best interest to lessen restrictions on the drug. In the past 20 years, 23 states have passed laws allowing for some form of recreational or medicinal use of the drug. Colorado, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon have all passed initiatives legalizing the sale and distribution of marijuana to adults 21 and older. 

One of the strongest arguments for the legalization of marijuana deals with the drug’s medical benefits. Marijuana can be used to release stress and anxiety. It is also known to increase appetite and decrease pain. Therefore, many people fighting diseases such as cancer find the drug to be extremely beneficial. There are those on the opposing side, though, who feel that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs. For this reason, many are in favor of a more limited form of legalization, permitting solely the legalization of medical marijuana as directed by a prescribing physician.

The debate continues regarding whether or not the legalization of marijuana would stimulate the economy. Colorado continues to act as a testing ground for the nation. The state has enacted a 2.9% retail and medical marijuana sales tax, a 10% retail marijuana special sales tax, and a 15% marijuana excise tax. As these regulations are still relatively new, the jury is still out as to what lasting effect marijuana sales might have on the economy. 

Many view the possession marijuana as a harmless offense and feel the incarceration rate of those found with marijuana is too high. In October of 2013, the United States’ incarceration rate was the highest in the world. While the United States represents only 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses nearly 22 percent of the world's prisoners. It is believed by many that reducing restrictions on marijuana laws would help us get a better handle on overcrowding within our prison system.

It is also worth noting that a sizable number of our citizens remain in vehement opposition to any change in marijuana law. Those in opposition feel the drug has a significantly negative effect on its users and would work only to disadvantage our country. Demotivation, laziness, and apathy are all strongly associated with marijuana users. Marijuana’s affect on health is also largely debated. Some view the long-term use of marijuana as dangerous for lung health. It is also widely debated as to whether or not the drug is addictive. While it does not contain nicotine, those in opposition feel the behavior of a frequent marijuana user mirrors that of any other addict. 

Despite the push for legalization, public opinion over the drug is as fluid as ever. The drug is continually brought to the debate stage as we, as a nation, work to improve our economy and ameliorate our prison systems. Regardless of your opinion on the drug, it is difficult to deny the weight of the marijuana debate in today’s political discourse.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a marijuana offense in Alabama, please contact the Reid Law Firm today. We would be more than happy to review your case and there is never a fee for an initial consultation. We are an experienced law firm who will get the job done. If you'd like to schedule a time to talk, please contact the Reid Law Firm today at 205-913-7406! You can also text us at (205) 913-7406 for a quick answer to any legal question. Chris Reid can be reached by email at All communication to the Reid Law Firm is protected by attorney client privilege, so any information submitted will be held in confidence. For a complete list of our practice areas please visit 

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Our firm practices the following areas of law: wills, trust, and estates, divorce and family, DUI and drug offenses (only first and second time offenses), and car accident cases. We also handle business law, including formation of business entities and drafting contracts. Additionally, I co-host Yellowhammer News every Monday during lunch from 11-12 on 101.1 fm Birmingham (but our show is broadcast throughout most of the state).