Our friends to the north legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
It’s time for the U.S. to follow suit.
Canada became the first major country to officially legalize the recreational use of marijuana for an entire nation on Wednesday morning. The changes to the way the country looks at marijuana did not stop there, however.
Following the legalization of marijuana, the country also announced Wednesday morning that they were going to introduce legislation that would make the process of obtaining a pardon on marijuana charges much easier.
The Canadian government said they’re going to seek to end the five-year-minimum waiting period and the 631 Canadian dollar ($438 USD) fee that it currently takes to apply for a pardon on such charges.
Ralph Goodale, Canada’s public safety minister, announced Wednesday that this is “a matter of basic fairness.”
Indeed it is.
Around the world and particularly in the U.S., the stigma that once came attached to using marijuana is quickly dissolving.
Earlier this month, a study done by the Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of Americans support the legalization of recreational marijuana — which is double the amount who supported it in 2000.
Currently, states like California, Nevada, Vermont and Colorado have state-wide legalization of marijuana.
That is not enough.
It is time for the prohibition of marijuana to end.
The Nixon-era war on drugs is outdated and widely unsuccessful. The benefits that come with marijuana, however, are not.
In 2015, after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, the industry introduced over 18,000 full-time jobs and $2.4 billion in the state’s economy, according to a study done by the Marijuana Policy Group.
The money would not just be added to our economy, it would also be saved.
A report from the American Civil Liberties Union in 2013 found that federal marijuana enforcement costs approximately $3.6 billion each year.
That is $3.6 billion that could be spent on improving our roadways, infrastructure and public schools.
After Massachusetts legalized recreational cannabis earlier this year, they are predicted $63 million in revenue from the 17 percent state tax that is attached to sales.
It is time for voters and lawmakers in the U.S. to put their fears aside and realize that combatting the inevitable is just wasting more time and dollars. The time is now for the U.S. to fall in line, realize we are in the 21st century and embrace recreational marijuana and all of the benefits that come with it.
Jesse Stokes is a junior majoring in political science.