Pros and Cons of Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Lady Justice for Cannabis Legalization
Lady Justice for Cannabis Legalization

By: Michael Jacobs

Despite the fact that a total of twelve states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and an additional 28 have approved the use of medical cannabis, there is still some debate as to whether outright legalization is the right thing for states to consider. 

The reasons for legalization are as numerous and as important as the reasons for keeping the drug illegal. Examining these reasons as pros and cons will hopefully give you insight into both sides.

Pros of Marijuana Legalization:

  • Tax revenue

Like alcohol and cigarettes, one of the primary arguments for the legalization of marijuana is tax revenue. When costs are up and the sale of things that can be taxed are down, governments often look for additional sources of income. Colorado has surpassed $1 billion in tax revenue from marijuana sales since recreational use was legalized in 2014. 

  • More effective criminal justice and law enforcement

Many of our prisons are occupied by people who were arrested for having quantities of marijuana. Legalization effectively allows law enforcement professionals and judiciary leaders to go after people who commit more violent crimes. There’s more prison space for these criminals as well once spaces occupied by pot smokers are vacated. Colorado saw marijuana-related arrests drop by 56% between 2012 and 2018. That’s a lot of time and space freed up to go after more violent offenders. 

  • It’s safer

Let’s face it. Even if you know your dealer and have an awesome relationship, there is sometimes no telling exactly what you are going to get. Buying from an unknown source can lead you to buying products that can be laced with chemicals and other drugs. Government regulation and sale can help to make sure you are getting what you are paying for – 100% marijuana. Since Washington began ordering contaminant testing, 13% of flower and cannabis products have failed the tests for contaminants.  

  • Eliminating the black market

This might be wishful thinking. Even with alcohol sales legal, people still bootleg whiskey to avoid paying taxes. The same happens with cigarettes – they are imported from states with lower cigarette taxes and sold in states with higher taxes on the black market. Still, if you have a legal venue to buy weed, you might be more likely to choose this than to choose the black market. This could effectively begin to eliminate its existence. 

  • Wider access to medicinal use

In the states where medicinal use is authorized, it is often only legalized when prescribed and then, only in certain forms and for limited conditions. Legalizing marijuana recreationally will allow for medical marijuana patients who previously could not get prescribed marijuana access to the relief they need. 

Like with anything, there are cons to legalizing marijuana. Some detractors point to these as definitive reasons why recreational marijuana use should remain illegal.

Cons of Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

  • Some say it’s addictive

Researchers have discovered that as many as 10% of marijuana users develop an addiction to the drug. While this may not seem like an overwhelming percentage of the population, some research suggests the numbers are even higher, up to 25% if they smoke daily. 

  • It may fall into the hands of children

It is one thing for an adult to take a brain-altering drug. However, in children whose brains are still developing, this can lead to known medical, psychological, and cognitive side effects. Some believe the legalization of marijuana will make it easier for the drug to fall into the hands of children.

  • The dangers of secondhand marijuana smoke

The recognized dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke were so widely recognized that many restaurants, bars, and other indoor venues now prohibit smoking. The same can be said for smoking marijuana. It is already known that combusted marijuana contains tar and other substances that might be harmful to other populations. Some people are even allergic to marijuana and/or the smoke it produces. Using vaporizers may be a way around these issues, but more research is needed.

While there are many reasons for the legalization of marijuana, there are just as many valid reasons for keeping it an illegal substance. One thing to be aware of is that although some states have legalized the use of the drug, it is still classified as a Schedule I drug nationally. Until this changes, there are still some stiff federal penalties for the possession and use of the drug. Yet as more states legalize it, there will be more pressure to change the classification.


Michael is the marketing and creative content specialist at with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here