The United States in 2016 is far from the country that it was in the 1960s, where hallucinogenic drugs labeled generations of people as addicts and hippies.
Today, laws legalizing the trade of medical marijuana have presented legitimate and relevant arguments as to why it should be decriminalized and in some cases encouraged.
While states like Colorado and California have paved the way for the beginning of a more natural way to treat a variety of medical conditions such as glaucoma, cancers and epilepsy, the stigma still attached to medical marijuana has left many states denying patients access to life-altering methods of treatment.
Beyond the medical advantage, from an economic standpoint, allowing patients to access medical marijuana would discourage black market activity, generate additional tax revenue for states and assist the invisible hand of economics across the country. By legalizing the trade of marijuana on the market, government regulation could make the product safer and much more accessible.
Black markets function by taking an illicit good and selling it for a high price by artificially lowering the supply.
Since there is no government involvement in black market trades, there is a high risk of violence or exploitation when enforcing contracts and settling disputes.
Black markets generate an environment of uncertainty that is perpetuated by an unregulated product sold by uninsured retailers.
Because medical marijuana could provide improvements in the conditions of many people, it is unfair to put them in a position that could be hazardous.
On the federal side, the revenue that the government would receive from taxes on medical marijuana incentivizes its legalization throughout the country.
For people who need serious medical attention, the demand for medicine would be very inelastic. This means that there are few substitutes for the good, so consumers are less deterred by a high price.
Inelastic demand bears high tax burden on consumers, resulting in a significant percentage of the price of the total cost of the product going to the government as tax revenue and a lower net price going to the individual retailers.
Because black market trade is illegal, the government loses money with efforts to stop the trade, whereas if the exchange of medical marijuana was made legal, they would profit.
Similarly, Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand theory deals with the unintended social consequences of a particular change. In this case, the introduction of legal medical marijuana dispensaries would promote business in a given community.
Individuals, specifically dispensary owners, would be more apt to put money into the local economy through the construction of storefronts, signage, etc.
This would create jobs while adding a new service to an area and also create competition in a monopolistically competitive industry. With the authorization of medical marijuana in communities, local economies would see an overall boost.
Stigmas are being broken every day in the United States as we begin to understand how many of our policies are outdated and even uninformed.
As a remedy, marijuana can provide a natural alternative to pain treatment without the “high,” especially with new technology developed to isolate the pain-treating tendencies of the herb.
The human, governmental and community-based benefits to the legalization of medical marijuana make it a legitimate option for medicine in the future.
It is now up to individual states to begin to follow the lead of those progressive enough to step out of the preconceived haze surrounding natural medicine.