The support for marijuana legalization continues to rise, surprisingly due to the change in Republican attitude towards the drug.
Republicans, however, are much more divided internally. Conservatives identifying with the Republican party oppose legalizing marijuana with 62% to 33%. On the other hand, moderate conservatives, mainly Millennials, favor legalizing marijuana 63% to 35%. With this combined statistic, the Republican party is nearly half and half on its opinion concerning legalization.
According to the Pew Research Center survey, 41% of Republicans support the legalization of cannabis, with a steady incline that suggests this number will continue to rise. What are the reasons causing this surge in support?
More and more members of the republican party are beginning to realize prohibition of cannabis costs more than it’s worth. Here are six reasons Republicans should get on board with cannabis legalization.
1. The Pro-Life Argument for Legalization of Marijuana
As a conservative, religious Texan and a member of the Republican party, Jason Vaughn actively fights against the prohibition of cannabis. In his defense essay called, “A Pro-Life Defense of Marijuana Legalization,” Vaughn explains that anyone pro-life should be pro-marijuana legalization. Vaughn believes that prohibition and criminalization of the drug
Vaughn believes that prohibition and criminalization of the drug lead to more crime and death. Without regulations, marijuana bought on the black market is more likely to come laced with other drugs that lead to death. Along the same lines, drug cartels promote illegal immigration, human smuggling, and border violence. All cases cause violence and death of innocent lives. “Maybe all of those reasons aren’t dealing with abortion,” Vaughn states, “but they are all dealing with life…I truly believe this is about saving lives.”
2. Issues with Drug Cartels and Mexico will Diminish
Along the lines of Vaughn’s argument, with the legalization of cannabis, issues with drug cartels and the Mexican border will minimize substantially. With government regulated cannabis shops, people will cease turning to the streets for the drug. In effect, this will shift the supply and demand away from violence and away from drug cartels based out of Mexico.
At the moment, prohibition causes Americans to buy marijuana from sources outside of the country. So, the cartels the US border patrols are clashing with are in fact funded with American dollars. Therefore, legalizing marijuana will cut off the cartels’ source of income, bring it back into the American economy, and keep people away from violence in the streets.
3. Government Should Not Fix God’s Creations (even if it’s a mistake)
Another Texas Republican advocating for the legalization of marijuana is David Simpson. In his argument, “The Christian Case for Drug Law Reform,” Simpson doesn’t believe in banning plants: “I don’t believe when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”
Simpson claims that the American “war on drugs” policies historically have accomplished the opposite of what it always sets out to do. Drawing attention to the American alcohol prohibition where bootlegging and organized crime controlled the streets, Simpson compares the failed results to marijuana prohibition. He urges the government and the people to not make the same mistake again.
Moreover, Proverbs 23:21 warns against excessive drinking and eating. That being said, the Bible does not explicitly ban activities or substances associated with them. Simpson says, “Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor.”
4. Legalized Marijuana Raises Millions in Tax Revenue
In Tennessee, Jeremy Faison and Steve Dickerson, Republican legislators, introduced a measure to legalize therapeutic cannabis. One of the reasons to get on board with legalization is to boost the state’s economy. With Colorado leading the country in tax revenue collected from marijuana sales, it’s no wonder more states want in on the business. Faison and Dickerson intend for the bill to build 50 grow houses with 15 in economically distressed areas. This would effectively raise taxes and money to get low-incomes towns back on their feet.
Likewise, in Tennessee, Republican representative Ryan Williams advocates from legalization of marijuana to combat the rampant opioid epidemic in the state. Marijuana is a non-addictive, viable alternative to pain relief that causes less harm than every other opioid. Again, this is economically beneficial by bringing the money from the streets and into the medicinal purchases of marijuana in the state.
5. Money and Time Wasted on Minor Marijuana Possession Charges
Prohibition of marijuana comes with enormous social and monetary costs. Because of strict laws on cannabis, police spend hours booking and imprisoning marijuana smokers who are otherwise good, law-abiding citizens. Not only are these arrest unnecessary a majority of the time, they take officers away from more urgent issues such as domestic violence, kidnapping, and harder, illicit drugs.
Enforcing laws on possession of marijuana costs over $3.6 billion each year according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Not to mention money for prisoners’ meals and time wasted taking these charges to court, and many of them because of possessing marijuana for personal use. Legalizing cannabis will cut costs for these harmless, wrongful imprisonments.
6. Health of Loved Ones Should Come First
Over and over again, cannabis has proven its legitimacy towards medicinal effectiveness. More states are decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing medicinal use of the drug. In turn, few Republican representatives recognize the positive effects of the drug on their loved ones. Ann Lee, founder of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP) used to think cannabis was a dangerous gateway drug. However, when her 28-year-old son became a paraplegic, she was convinced of the effects of cannabis for nerve pain relief.
Similarly, Jim Neely, a Republican representative out of Missouri introduced a bill to give terminally ill patients medical marijuana. In 2015, Neely’s daughter died of cancer and he believes the drug would have helped alleviate her pain. Unfortunately, his bill did not make the November 2016 ballot, but Neely isn’t ready to give up that easily.
The trajectory of Republican support to end the prohibition on cannabis is steadily inclining. In many cases, legislators and representatives who agree with legalization are keeping their opinions to themselves. Hopefully, with more Republicans advocating the benefits of ending prohibition, the push for legalized marijuana in America will succeed.