One motivation for legalization is the economic benefits that can be derived from the regulated commercial availability of marijuana. Rising tax revenues, job growth and investment opportunities are powerful incentives to drive legalization. Nearly two-thirds of conservative and moderate Democrats (63%) say marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use. An overwhelming majority of Liberal Democrats (82%) say the same thing.
They argue that regulating marijuana will reduce street crime, take businesses away from drug cartels, and make marijuana use safer through the required testing, labeling and child-resistant packaging. Marijuana is the only “drug” that is smoked, and while it is not yet fully understood, there are legitimate concerns about the long-term effects of marijuana smoke on the lungs. A 63% majority of Republicans ages 18 to 29 are in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use, compared to 53% of those aged 30 to 49 and 48% of those aged 50 to 64. U.S. Border Patrol data shows that marijuana seizures have fallen by millions of pounds and are at their lowest levels in more than a decade, indicating that legal domestic production is decreasing demand for marijuana smuggled from Mexico.
While both Republicans and Democrats differ greatly as to whether marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, there are also age divisions within each party. Smoking marijuana can damage lung tissues and cause respiratory problems; secondhand marijuana smoke is also dangerous. Among those who think marijuana should be illegal, 59% say there should be a federal application in states that allows marijuana use, while 38% say it shouldn't be. Potential issues with the approval, production, dispensing, route of administration, and adverse health effects of medical and recreational marijuana are reviewed.
The potential benefits and significant risks associated with marijuana use should be taught in medical schools and residency programs across the country. While most Democrats and Democrats leaning in all age groups support the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use, older Democrats are less likely to say this. However, the ways in which medical marijuana has been approved, prescribed, and made available to the public are very different from other commercially available prescription drugs. Having approved measures to allow the use of marijuana for personal use, 27% of supporters say that legalization would lead to better regulation of marijuana and increased tax revenues.
The percentage of people ages 12 to 17 who use marijuana is higher in all legal marijuana states than the national average. Recent data from Colorado shows that 94% of patients with medical marijuana cards received them for the treatment of “severe pain.” About a quarter of those who have tried marijuana (12% of the general public) say they used marijuana last year. While most of those who say marijuana should be legal say they have tried it before (65%), 34% of those who support legalization say they have never tried it.