1. About seven-in-ten (69%) Americans believe alcohol is more harmful to a person’s health than MMJ while 15% pick MMJ as worse (14% say both or neither). If MMJ became as widely available as alcohol, 63% still believe alcohol would be more harmful to society.
2. Support for legalization over the past 25 years has steadily increased. Just 16% of those surveyed by CNN/ORC in 1990 supported legalizing MMJ. Recent polling puts support at over 50%, a clear sign that as legalization takes hold in more states, support for greater access to the drug increases.
3. When states legalize pot, they can levy substantial taxes on the MMJ industry and generate much-needed revenue for their budgets. Colorado's recent introduction of pot is already bringing in more than $30 million of taxable revenue a month — leading to upwards of $7.5 million of tax revenue. The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that California could raise $1.4 billion annually in extra revenue if it taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana.
4. If pot is legalized federally, the industry could be more than three times bigger than the NFL — and it could all be taxed.
5. Colorado introduced weed in 2013 and has not descended into chaos or seen a catastrophic loss of productivity. Instead, it's pulling in millions of dollars in tax revenue. In September 2014, recreational sales exceeded medical sales in the state, suggesting that state-regulated pot may be a viable alternative to the black market.
6. The correlation between regulation and public safety is a common sense principle borne out by history in countless industries. Just as consumers are protected by requiring restaurants to be inspected for health violations or pharmaceutical companies to submit new products to the FDA, regulating weed will make it more likely that consumers are getting a quality product undiluted by potentially harmful additives.
7. MMJ is not legal under federal law, but no federal entity has intervened in state legalization measures so far. In the immediate aftermath of the first legalization measures, President Obama said that he has "bigger fish to fry" than cracking down on the MMJ industry. The following year, his administration released a memo stating that the Department of Justice wouldn't challenge state laws on pot legalization as long as they adhere to a set of strict rules regarding the sale and distribution of the drug, such as ensuring minors don't have access to it.
8. These are just a handful of the lessons we've learned from states' experiments in decriminalizing and legalizing pot use, either for medicinal or recreational use. Weed is hardly the harmful societal force for evil it was once considered. As that new consensus grows, we'll only know more about the drug's actual effects on society.