The benefits of legalizing both recreational and medicinal marijuana are too plentiful to be ignored, but even some well-known pot growers are against legalization for a variety of reasons. Although decriminalization will result in more freedom, increased revenue, thousands of lives saved from jail time and a plethora of other benefits, some growers insist that further involving the feds will only make things worse.
According to CBS News, “Many farmers are concerned that legalization would bring many unwanted changes to their industry, including costly regulation and taxes. They also fret that the law would usher in an era of lower prices and an influx of deep-pocketed corporations who could put smaller farms out of business.”
Hezekiah Allen, a marijuana grower who comes from a long line of pot farmers, says that while he wants decriminalization to happen, he doesn’t want it to be at the expense of the growers themselves. “I don’t want to replace a criminal injustice with an economic injustice,” he says.
“We are asking farmers to come out from behind the curtain, but not providing the assurances they need. This law is setting the state up for failure,” says CEO of the Humboldt Growers Collective Steve Dodge, referring to Proposition 64 in California, which calls for legalizing recreational marijuana use, sale and growth. Some concerns include growers facing new taxes, inspections, environmental regulations and ultimately being forced to shut down when they are unable to afford to comply with new demands.
The concerns are legitimate ones to voice, but are they enough to deny the legalization of pot altogether? As important as small businesses are to the community, the fact remains that over half of the arrests made for drug possession in the country are marijuana related. In 2010 alone, police made busts on people for pot every 37 seconds. These are individuals who lose their jobs, their benefits, and even their freedom.
The benefits of legalized weed also cannot be ignored. Legal pot can generate around $1 billion in revenue annually, which is enough to fix any number of issues. Just from watching how legalized weed has benefited the people of Colorado, we now know just how much can be gained from passing this legislation. Colorado has seen over a 10% decrease in crime and 5% decrease in violent crime since legalization occurred. The retail sales in Colorado from marijuana accounted for over $10 million in taxes. Thousands of jobs have been created, the opportunity to test pot for medicinal purposes has opened up and the state’s real estate market is thriving.
Not arresting people on pot-related charges can save up to $40 million annually, and many people already know about hw pot is a better source of everything from paper to clothing, fuel to feed than alternatives. In fact, switching to cannabis production provides a highly renewable resource that solves so many problems that it simply cannot be ignored.
While the issues raised by growers regarding legalization should not be ignored as well, the benefits involved in legalizing cannabis far outweigh the negative effects. Growers and businesses may fight laws and policies that could negatively affect them as they come to pass, but the benefits of legalizing pot could be enjoyed by the entire population as soon as legislation is approved.