Why so many politicians are suddenly supporting marijuana legalization

Published Apr 5, 2019 12:30 p.m. ET
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Marijuana legalization has brought us so much change. Cannabis jobs, marijuana dispensaries, and hemp products that most of us have never had access to before. This is exciting and inspirational for those who have been followed by the black cloud of taboo for choosing a once illegal substance to self-medicate. This seems like a positive change in societal views, but for those of us who have been involved with cannabis culture for decades, it can be difficult to watch some of the world's most powerful people suddenly advocating for opening new dispensaries and increasing access to other marijuana concentrates. Especially when not too long ago they were feverishly fighting to keep it illegal and punishing anyone who stepped out of line. So why is there suddenly a shift in public conveyed opinion? Well, the answer will depend on who you are talking about. There are several reasons politicians would now want to be involved with a substance they hated not long ago, and we are going to touch on a few of the most influential.

Marijuana taxes

The Canadian government treats cannabis the same way as it does alcohol and has implemented a tax that makes up to 13% of the total cost of any marijuana derived product. These taxes are a high paying cash flow that can provide millions in extra funding for things like public health and infrastructure. Most politicians agree that more money is always better no matter where it comes from as long as it’s a legal source. This tax is paid multiple times over on the same product, including by the cultivators, testers, and ultimately the consumers. They are taxed at every stage of the process that marijuana products will require on their way to store shelves and into the hands of customers. This is a massive chunk of funding that a lot of influential people would like to see boost the economy.

Cannabis jobs

Marijuana legalization brings the opening of marijuana dispensaries, farms, greenhouses, and more which creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. With stagnant economies, increasing numbers of unemployed and underemployed citizens, many politicians are hoping that the introduction of a brand-new industry with help to stimulate local economies by creating well paid cannabis jobs. Many of which will eventually require extensive education that can only be obtained by attending either a college or university, which in turn will demand more skilled workers to teach. That is just one example of how the introduction of cannabis legalization will create more jobs than only the most visible frontline marijuana dispensaries workers. It makes sense that world leaders should be encouraging this regardless of their personal opinions on the substance itself.

Hemp cultivation

When prohibition first began there was very little knowledge on the differences between cannabis and hemp plants. This prompted uneducated politicians all over the world to consider the two plants to be one and the same and making both illegal to use or grow. Now that cannabis research has made leaps and bounds, it is relatively common knowledge that hemp plants do not produce the same psychoactive effects, and that the hemp materials plant themselves are excellent alternatives for many products we currently make using toxins. Things like plastics, rope, food items, biofuel, and more. It is easy to see why any politician would want to encourage the introduction of marijuana legalization. Both plants are so incredibly similar that it is difficult to tell them apart. If everyone started growing hemp, it would be difficult to police the occasionalcannabis plant thrown in, making it easier to legalize both species at the same time.

Cannabis stocks

Most politicians have money as well as constituents that also have investments in the stock market which may impact their decision about bringing new investment options to the table for investors and regular everyday people alike. Stocks are an efficient way to stimulate local economies by investing in the brand-new local business to grow and expand essentially injecting money into circulation within the population with jobs and wages that can be spent more leniently. Cannabis stocks are the perfect way to stimulate growth in a brand-new industry with little to no help from the government in terms of funding. This is beneficial to both politicians and taxpayers.

Public opinion

Perhaps the most significant influence on our politician’s ever-changing opinions in the thoughts of their constituents. There are some politicians now saying they want to undo legalization if they gain majority which is a way of buying votes from a specific group. Those who have chosen to back-step by announcing their want publicly for cannabis to be illegal again are selling themselves to an older generation that grew up during the marijuana madness era and still firmly believe those misconstrued values. With our population aging and younger segments of voters now making up the majority, our politician's campaign promises are slowly evolving, and almost all of them include some form of maintaining marijuana legalization long-term. Now most politicians who once denied wanting any kind of association with cannabis to promising to uphold and even go so far as to enhance current marijuana legalization with less stringent rules and more access. Despite their personal opinions, if you want to maintain or obtain a position of power than you need to appease the citizens. With an even 50/50 split on support of marijuana legalization that has been rising steadily for years, it only makes sense to run on a platform of acceptance rather than one of hate.

In conclusion

None of this excuses the wrongdoings of any political leader in criminalizing cannabis; it does explain why so many that used to remain venomously opposed to legal weed have now changed their tune to one of acceptance and even support. It is essential to remember that our politicians are people too, many of which hold very different opinions than we do. What is really important is what they are choosing to actively do now to help the cause, not what they may have done in the past to hinder progress. Change is difficult especially for older generations, and those that are willing to publicly stand up and say they were wrong deserve a full round of applause for their honesty and acceptance of that change.

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