With Canada set to become the largest and second nation to legalize recreational marijuana in the world and legalization ongoing in multiple US States, it is only a matter of time before many other countries follow suit. The financial, social and health benefits of marijuana legalization are simply too large to ignore and in the years to follow we can expect to see legalization in many other countries. The bigger question is why and how it remained illegal for so long in so many places without any evidence of harm by the substance.
New Zealand Indicates yes to Marijuana
A recent poll conducted in New Zealand has found that up to 65% of New Zealand voters want legal marijuana. This is a more of a majority than any other country that has been polled, and indicates that any bill proposing to legalize marijuana will most likely pass. The study was commissioned by the New Zealand Drug Foundation. An important distinction is that 65% of respondents supported either the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis, which is not quite the same as 65% of people being for the legalization of cannabis. But support for medical use of cannabis is even higher than this, with a total of 83% of people wanting medical marijuana to remain illegal. One has to question why one citizen would want to deny another his or her right to medical treatment. It is more than likely that these individuals come from an older and more conservative demographic and have a false view of what marijuana actually is and what its effects are.
What is interesting is that the support for marijuana legalization in New Zealand is not limited to one group or party. The Green Party of New Zealand is currently working to pass a bill which will make the legalization of marijuana a reality for New Zealand residents. 60% of those who support the National Party, the leading party in the country, are pro marijuana legalization. 68% of supporters of the Labor party wish to see legal marijuana and 68% of supporters of the New Zealand First party supported more relaxed cannabis laws. While all parties seem to support marijuana, they are all stating that marijuana is not one of their primary concerns. The current Prime Minister John Key says that the matter was not open for discussion at present, stating that the legalization of cannabis comes with its own share of difficulties and is not as easy as people seem to believe. Cannabis can also be incredibly destructive to the environment when it is not grown properly, and there is a real danger of people simply jumping on the marijuana bandwagon, their eyes alight with the sign of dollar bills.
However, according to the Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation Ross Bell:
“The current system is broken…Getting a criminal conviction for possessing cannabis ruins people’s lives and creates huge downstream costs for society”
Those living in the USA know this to be the case, especially for the African American class. The three-strike rule means that people can be incarcerated for possession of a Federal drug for up to 20 years if they are caught 3 times. This is particularly harsh on certain groups who are forced to sell and possess marijuana due to their socio-economic conditions. Thousands upon thousands of people have been sent to one of the harshest prison complexes in the world for possession of a harmless plant substance. And many never made it out. The good news is that there are signs that prisoners can get their sentences retroactively rescinded. If they were caught for possession of a drug that is declassified they might leave the prison system. Aside from the harshness of getting a criminal conviction for next to nothing, Bell added that regulation will increase the quality of the product as well as boosting the overall economy. Over 15,000 people were surveyed so this is a strong indication as to how the public perceives marijuana, though polls such as this can often be wrong, as seen in the 2016 elections.
The poll also found 82 percent of New Zealand voters think cannabis use for terminal pain relief should be either legalized or decriminalized, and 79 percent favored cannabis being used for pain relief (legal: 63 percent, decriminalized: 16 percent). The results showed that the results did not seem to vary much depending on what type of group was surveyed.
A World of Cannabis
It seems to be that the world will shortly see widescale marijuana legalization. Overall this will have many positive benefits for all people as it will improve global health and well-being as well as boost the economy. It is only a matter of time before the people of all states are asked the question of whether to vote yes or no to marijuana, ending a ridiculous era of false imprisonment and a restriction to the most effective medical compound known to man: THC.