Kim DelMonico, OCBMAGONLINE freelance writer

Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of cannabis for adult recreational use: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Vermont.  In addition, 20 states have bills pending that would legalize adult-use cannabis.

This trend in legalizing adult-use of cannabis comes with increased social acceptance.  According to a recent survey, 61% of Americans say that cannabis should be legalized.  This study was conducted by the Pew Research Center in October 2018.  This amount is nearly double what it was in 2000, when only 31% of Americans supported the legalization of cannabis.

The growing support for cannabis legalization is due in part to its widespread acceptance among the younger generations.  Seventy percent of millennials (born 1981-1997) who were surveyed by Pew Research Center support cannabis legalization.  This is in contrast with Gen Xers (66%), Baby Boomers (56%), and the Silent Generation (35%) who support cannabis legalization.

Who are the 70% of millennials who support cannabis legalization and who are the 30% who are against it?  Ohio Cannabusiness Magazine spoke to a few millennials around the country to hear their reasons why they are for or against cannabis legalization.

In New York, Brooklyn-based founder of Grass is Greener PR, Sarah ElSayed said, “I’m really looking forward to legalization in all 50 states. Massachusetts is setting a great example in the northeast by making the cannabis industry accessible to everyone, minorities and women included, and I think we should all be following their lead. Millennials do a really great job at dismantling precedents that may have made sense at one point, but no longer serve us; restrictions on growing and consumption have always held a fiscal interest to big pharma and private prisons, and have unfairly targeted communities of color. We’re bringing in fresh perspectives and alternative approaches that will get us closer to equality, destigmatization, public acceptance, and healing. There’s space for everyone in the cannabis industry, and as long as we stay mindful of those negatively impacted by the War on Drugs, the end of prohibition is closer than it seems.”

In California, Los Angeles-based actress Caitlin O’Connor explained why she is pro-legalization.  “I am so thrilled about the Legalization of Cannabis –  it is assisting so many people to better their quality of life and providing better regulation and safety of the use of the plant. I hope that we see the worldwide legalization of cannabis within our lifetime.”

Also in California, Charlie Pearl, brand representative for Plug and Play, told us, “I have been using cannabis to treat my anxiety, depression and pain since I was 18 years old. I very clearly remember a time when it was still very taboo and unacceptable for me to publicly share that I was using cannabis daily to manage many mental & physical ailments, despite the fact that I was a productive and responsible working member of society. It has been a relief to watch the stigma associated with cannabis change slowly over the process of legalization. I would like to believe that I will see a time when safe and responsible cannabis usage will be viewed just like taking a supplement or herbal remedy by everyone. And I believe that medical and recreational legalization are on the road to that goal. Education and reasonable but responsible legislation will be needed to facilitate that type of change but the industry is booming with young, motivated and intelligent entrepreneurs so I think we can expect to continue to see massive forward change. I do know we are exploring new and uncharted territory which will come with its setbacks, but I am hopeful about nationwide legalization at some level within my life and I think that’s incredible!”

In Kansas, gubernatorial candidate Jeff Caldwell is promoting the legalization of cannabis as part of his platform.  Caldwell explained why he supports legalization.  “Two Kansas border states have moved forward with legalizing cannabis: Colorado with recreational and Oklahoma with medical.  Missouri is voting for legalizing medical cannabis this November.  Kansas is losing out on revenue possibilities and is wasting $20 million per year prosecuting and incarcerating non-violent cannabis offenses.  I am running for Governor of Kansas, and the first action I will take, if elected, is pardoning all nonviolent cannabis offenders.  Cannabis is proven to be less toxic than alcohol or tobacco.  It’s time for Kansas to move forward with legalization.”

There are also those who are decidedly anti-cannabis legalization.  Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) is a volunteer Political Action Committee dedicated to defeating any effort to legalize cannabis.  CALM takes the position that federal laws against the use, cultivation, and transportation of cannabis should be maintained and enforced.

San Diego-based CALM member Alex Chipman explained why he is against cannabis legalization.  “Our parent’s generation spent decades fighting an addiction based industry, tobacco. We are now starting that fight all over again with the marijuana industry. We are not legalizing marijuana, we are commercializing THC and giving millionaire marijuana entrepreneurs and their investors a legal precedent to sell yet another mind-altering and addictive substance to the masses. Taxation of marijuana will never recoup the public health damages it will cause. Legalization will make a select few very rich leaving society at large to bear the cost.”

No matter which side of the debate you stand on, it is important to stay informed and to voice your opinions to the politicians who represent you.  As more and more states tackle the issue of whether to legalize cannabis, this is a critical time for your opinions on this issue to be heard.

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