10 Facts That Every Cannabis Supporter Should Know
The Green Flower team believes that everyone who consumes cannabis should be as educated as possible about the plant.
That goes for the science of the cannabis plant as well as how to fight the stigma that unfortunately surrounds it.
The topic of cannabis comes up a lot these days in conversations with so many reform victories. Currently, almost 30 states have legalized medical cannabis and 8 states (plus D.C.) have legalized cannabis for adult use.
It is extremely important that as a cannabis supporter (whether you consume cannabis or not) that you are armed with credible information at all times.
You never know when a conversation about cannabis will commence, and you also don't know where the conversation will go. But if you are always ready with credible facts, you will represent the plant well and hopefully change hearts and minds.
Below are ten cannabis facts that Green Flower encourages all cannabis supporters to know.
#1) Cannabis is one of the most studied substances out there
One thing that you will hear cannabis opponents (especially politicians) say often is that there needs to be more studies conducted on cannabis before reform is embraced.
However, a quick search at the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health for studies on file for the term 'marijuana' returns nearly 25,000 results.
It wasn't that long ago that the search results for studies was only about 20,000. To put it into perspective, there are more study results on file for 'marijuana' than there are for 'tylenol' (the acetaminophen in tylenol can damage your liver, by the way).
#2) Support for cannabis legalization is at an all-time high
One of my favorite statistics to throw out during a cannabis conversation is that the most recent Gallup poll found 60% support for cannabis legalization.
That is the highest level of support for legalization that Gallup has found since it started polling Americans on the topic back in 1969.
In 1969 support was at just 12%. As recently as 2005 support was at just 36%. However, in the last decade support has surged, and there is no sign of it slowing down.
#3) Cannabis is significantly less harmful than alcohol
I once watched an interview with Mason Tvert, who helped lead the successful Colorado legalization campaign.
During the interview Mason explained that the number one 'weapon' he had during the campaign was the fact that cannabis was safer than alcohol. He said that fact was what stuck the most in the minds of voters.
A recent study found that cannabis is actually 114 times safer than alcohol. I never offer up this fact in a way that is demeaning to alcohol users, but I do offer it up often because it really puts things into perspective for most members of society who either consume alcohol, or don't have any problem with people doing so.
#4) Hundreds of thousands of people are arrested for cannabis every year
Another common tactic that cannabis opponents try to employ is downplaying the number of cannabis arrests that occur in the United States each year.
'People very rarely get arrested for cannabis anymore,' is a common line that I hear cannabis opponents say. It is one of the most shameful tactics that opponents use.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of people get arrested for cannabis every year. 574,641 in 2015 alone to be exact. And that number is for people that were arrested for cannabis only - not people arrested for another offense and just happened to have cannabis on them at the time.
Over half a million people had their lives turned upside down in 2015 because of anti-cannabis laws. These people had handcuffs placed on them, were thrown into the back of a squad car, and for at least a time detained, all because of a plant that is safer than alcohol. That is truly sad to think about.
#5) Cannabis arrests are not cheap
Tax dollars and law enforcement resources are not unlimited. Public resources should be dedicated to fighting real crime.
Yet, as you learned from the fourth item on this list, money is flying out the window in most law enforcement agencies when it comes to cannabis enforcement.
The RAND Corporation compiled data for the State of Vermont and found that the average arrest for cannabis costs $1,266. If a court proceeding follows, it costs on average another $1,000.
People that are on the fence about cannabis may not be looking at prohibition in terms of cost. Pointing out that prosecuting cannabis costs over $2,000 per incident is usually the dose of reality that many skeptics need in order to be convinced to get on the right side of history.
#6) Cost of incarceration
Costs to enforce prohibition don't end at the time of arrest and prosecution. If the person caught with cannabis is incarcerated, that racks up additional costs.
The average cost to house an inmate varies by state. On average it costs over $30,000 per year to house an inmate according to a 2015 study.
In New York one study put the number as high as $168,000 to house an inmate.
Shouldn't that money be dedicated to housing a violent criminal or child predator, rather than someone who was caught with cannabis?
#7) How many people in prison for cannabis
Cannabis reform opponents try very hard to make it sound like next to no one is going to prison for cannabis. Downplaying the number of people incarcerated for cannabis is a classic tactic of theirs.
However, it is estimated that 20,000 people nationwide are sitting in prison for a cannabis-only offense. That's 20,000 people locked in a cage for a plant that is safer than alcohol.
That number is further compounded when you think about all of the family members affected.
Even one person sitting in prison for cannabis is one too many, let alone 20,000. Even more people are in prison for cannabis offenses plus at least one other offense.
If you do the math of 20,000 inmates at $30,000 per year, that's $600,000,000.00 annually. Shouldn't that money be going towards something else?
#8) Number of federal patients
The federal government considers cannabis to be a Schedule I controlled substance, partially defined as having no medical value at all.
However, the fact of the matter is that the United States government grows cannabis for medical purposes and distributes it monthly to four federal medical cannabis patients.
The Compassionate Investigational New Drug program has been around for decades, with the first patient receiving medical cannabis from the federal government in 1976. At its peak, the program had 30 patients.
Remember this fact the next time you hear a cannabis opponent say, 'but it is still federally illegal!' While technically true, the fact that the same federal government that prohibits cannabis also grows and dispenses it for medical purposes is a tough pill for opponents to swallow.
#9) Number of jobs
One of the biggest benefits to legalization aside from the social justice benefits is the creation of jobs via the emerging cannabis industry.
Cannabis opponents may try to downplay various signs of success from reform, but no one can argue that job creation is a bad thing.
It is estimated that the cannabis industry now employs over 120,000 people in full time positions. Can you name a part of the country that doesn't need more full time positions? I can't!
#10) Number of consumers
People opposed to cannabis reform try very hard to make it seem like not that many people consume cannabis. A majority of Americans do not consume cannabis, but cannabis consumers are far from alone.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 1 in 8 American adults reported being a cannabis consumer. The poll did not specify how often people consumed cannabis, just that they identified as being a cannabis consumer.
43% of poll participants stated that they have consumed cannabis at least once in their lives. These statistics are important because it highlights the fact that cannabis consumers are everywhere in American society, and that's a good thing!
If you think these are important discussion points for the cannabis conversation, please feel free to share with friends and followers.
And if you want to learn even more about cannabis, you can check out the Cannabis As Medicine video series for a limited time.
Have you talked to someone on the fence about cannabis reform in the last month?