A record number 60% of Americans support cannabis legalization, according to a recent Gallup poll.
This of course leaves the obvious 40% of poll participants who don’t support cannabis legalization. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of Americans that support prohibition.
A lot of this opposition is based on misconceptions or cannabis myths easily cleared up with the right kind of education.
But for some opponents, they don’t support cannabis reform because they think reform has nothing to do with them. After all, they don’t consume cannabis.
These types of reform opponents can be particularly tough to have rational conversations with unless you are prepared.
Below are 8 important talking points related to how cannabis and hemp legalization benefits everyone, even those who don’t consume marijuana.
#1) Generates tax dollars
The tax dollars generated by a regulated cannabis industry benefit everyone. All parts of America can use more tax dollars.
In Oregon, where I live, 40% of tax revenues generated from legal cannabis sales goes to the Oregon Common School Fund. In 2016 that is projected to come in at around $17.2 million dollars. This is a significant advantage given the fact that public schools are constantly facing funding issues.
In Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper has proposed using $12.3 million dollars from cannabis tax revenues to build housing for Colorado’s homeless community.
These tax dollars are being put to good use for the benefit of all members of society.
#2) Allows cops to focus on real crime
According to Human Rights Watch, in 2015 more people were arrested for cannabis (574,000) than for all violent crimes combined (505,681). Let that statistic sink in for a moment.
Members of law enforcement need to focus their limited resources on going after real criminals, and not after people who are fond of a plant reported to be 114 times safer than alcohol.
This is the message that Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has been promoting for many years. LEAP is an organization comprised of current and former members of law enforcement, and is a great resource to point people to.
#3) Creates jobs
The cannabis industry is growing all the time. The most recent report I have seen, per Marijuana Business Daily, put the cannabis industry workforce at between 100,000 and 150,000 people.
Good jobs are needed everywhere in America, especially rural areas and regions that have been hit hard by economic downturns and/or changing industry landscapes.
Parts of the Western United States were hit very hard by a shrinking American timber industry. Cannabis jobs are filling the void.
No industry is creating jobs as fast as the cannabis industry, especially jobs that people want to fill. The cannabis industry is the most exciting place to work in right now.
#4) Boosts local economies
A booming local cannabis industry creates an economic butterfly effect in the area. This is especially true for local cannabis industries that involve a large amount of tourism.
People that come to the area to buy cannabis also buy other things like food and gas. Those dollars go towards the local economy.
What’s more, members of the cannabis industry workforce take their earned dollars and spend them at local businesses, creating more jobs and helping sustain existing jobs.
The economic advantages here are undeniable. A great example of this would be in Huntington, Oregon, which is a very small town but is now home to the busiest dispensary in the state. I bet their local gas station has seen an uptick in business too!
#5) Improves undesirable parts of town
The legal cannabis industry is one of the most adaptable industries on the planet right now. Certain types of cannabis industry sectors can literally be located anywhere.
Whereas some industries require prime real estate to operate, the cannabis industry can be located in less desirable parts of town and revitalize them.
A great example is in Oakland, California, where an area now known as Oaksterdam used to be a rundown part of town, with dirty sidewalks and vacant commercial property everywhere.
Cannabis businesses essentially revitalized the area in the 1990s and today it is much improved compared to how it used to be. This is true of many cities in which legal cannabis businesses are allowed to operate.
That’s not to say that cannabis shouldn’t be located on main street, as cannabis should be located anywhere else products like tobacco and alcohol are allowed.
#6) Keeps cannabis away from kids
A legal, regulated cannabis industry involves consumers making cannabis purchases in licensed outlets after providing valid identification that establishes they are 21 years old or over.
Those checkpoints and regulations ensure that cannabis stays out of the hands of youth.
In an unregulated market, no one asks for identification – making it much easier for underage people to get their hands on the stuff.
One thing that responsible cannabis consumers and cannabis opponents can agree on is that cannabis is for adult use, and not for the youth. A regulated industry helps ensure that happens far better than an unregulated market.
#7) Increased security for surrounding neighborhoods
My dad owns a bicycle shop in Central Oregon. He has always been pro-cannabis, but a lot of people he knows weren’t always on board with his views, especially in a conservative place like Central Oregon.
However, people start to change their tune when he shares this personal anecdote about what happened when a dispensary opened next to his bicycle shop.
Prior to the dispensary being there, the area experienced problems with break-ins in the parking lot and surrounding businesses. Once the dispensary opened up, these problems were eliminated.
That’s because the dispensary had 24-hour video surveillance, and at times, armored security on site. The entire area benefited from the cannabis dispensary.
People in the area who had previously frowned on the idea of a medical cannabis dispensary are now praising its merits, even though they have never made a single purchase from it.
#8) Successful cannabis businesses give back to their communities
I spend a lot of time on social media, and I see cannabis businesses across America giving back to their communities on a regular basis. It’s a heartwarming thing to see.
Whenever I drive past an adopt-a-street sign that has a cannabis business or reform organization on it I smile because I know that cannabis supporters have been helping out in the area.
The best dispensaries put on toy drives for less fortunate children, donate to food banks for families in need, and volunteer at community centers and other things.
Cannabis community members are some of the most compassionate, talented people I have ever met, and they have a lot to offer their communities. When they are embraced instead of persecuted, they can do a lot of good for the benefit of all members of society.