Opinion: Idaho should legalize marijuana

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Currently, there are 29 states that have decriminalized the use of marijuana, most of them solely for medical use, whereas a few others for recreational use. Idaho is surrounded by states that have legalized its use, yet the stigma of marijuana use still endures in Idaho. The misconceptions of marijuana are strongly prevalent in Idaho. The state legislature even passed a resolution back in 2013 affirming their strong opposition to legalizing marijuana.

Even with the misconceptions surrounding the topic, current studies and data present the benefits of the legalization in those states. The many benefits to legalized marijuana include a decrease in opioid-related deaths, increased tax revenue and a boost in the economy and jobs.

Decrease in opioid-related deaths

A peer-reviewed article studied Colorado’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, and concluded there has been “a reduction that represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”

According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths with prescriptions opioids have quadrupled since 1999. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died nationally from prescription opioid overdose related deaths.

One of the main reasons there has been a reversal in the opioid-related deaths in Colorado is because marijuana contains properties that effectively control chronic pain (cannabinoids). The recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado has increased the its use, which in effect has reduced the use of opioids and thus decreased the abuse and deaths.

Recently, a new study report was released from the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering. In their findings, there was strong evidence supporting the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids that are used to treat chronic pain.

Opioid abuse is a concern not only nationally, but also locally. According to an article from The Idaho Statesman, in 2013 an Idahoan citizen died every 39 hours from an illicit, prescription or over-the-counter drug.

As the data demonstrates in Colorado, if Idaho were to legalize marijuana, more citizens would be able to recreationally use it, and the abuse of opioids would decrease.

Increase in tax revenue

According to the marijuana tax data found in the Colorado Department of Revenue, since the legalization of marijuana tax revenue has increased exponentially. Currently the state retail marijuana sales tax rate is 15%. The state share of the total tax revenue is 90%, with 10% of the share going to local government.

As explained in a recent article in CNN money, the state of Colorado has received more than $506 million from retail sales since January 2014.

According to Arcview Market Research, in 2016 sales of legalized marijuana in North America grew 30% to $6.7 billion and is expected to increase to $20.1 billion by 2021.

These numbers are quite impressive, so it’s imperative to see how states are benefiting from the elevated tax revenue. According to Business Insider, in Nevada the additional money brought in from legalized marijuana will assist Nevada schools and their public education.

If Idaho were to legalize marijuana, then they would be able to use that excess tax revenue to help boost our public schools and infrastructure. Idaho has been growing at a rapid rate for several years, and we desperately need new schools due to overcrowding. If Idaho were to legalize marijuana, then that tax money could assist with this concern.

Boost in economy and jobs

In a new report conducted by Marijuana Business Daily, marijuana companies employ approximately 100,000 to 150,000 workers. The report states that the industry currently employs the same number of people nationally that are flight attendants or librarians.

In the same report they found that the plant side of the industry is also massive, employing approximately 58,000 to 80,000 workers.

Tourism has also increased the economy throughout states that have legalized marijuana. According to the Colorado Tourism Office, in 2015 it was reported that 77.7 million visitors came to Colorado and spent a record $19.1 billion, which produced $1.13 billion in local and state taxes.

Although many Idahoans have become hopeless and commonly joke that “Idaho will be the last state to legalize marijuana,” there seems to be hope on the horizon, such as a 2018 proposed ballot initiative for the legalization of medical marijuana in Idaho.

Ultimately, even though the misconceptions still exist surrounding the legalization of marijuana, the data demonstrates that there are several advantages that consumers, residents and states can reap overall from the legalization of marijuana.

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  1. Science and culture are always an interesting combination. Many decades ago, when couples living together was a cultural shift, social scientists hypothesized that this would strengthen marriages. Couples would be able to try out their compatibility before committing. Now, social scientist say one powerful predictor for a strong, happy, and lasting marriage is not living together before the marriage. One of the explanations for this is that commitment is different in the two situations.

    Our culture is again in the throws of its continual in transition. There are pros and cons, knowns and unknowns, in the marijuana legalization process. This article provides some facts and information concerning marijuana in our modern cultural shift. Here are some sources to additional facts to consider. (Warning: This is not light reading.)

    40 Research Papers Showing Brain Alterations and Functional Changes from Marijuana

    1. Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2015 Jul 23. pii: S1878-9293(15)00069-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2015.07.004.
    Impact of cannabis use on prefrontal and parietal cortex gyrification and surface area in adolescents and emerging adults.

    2. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Aug 1;153:116-23. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.05.046. Epub 2015 Jun 10.
    Cannabis, cigarettes, and their co-occurring use: Disentangling differences in default mode network functional connectivity.

    3. Behav Brain Res. 2013 Nov 1;256:494-502. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.09.013. Epub 2013 Sep 9.
    Functional imaging of implicit marijuana associations during performance on an Implicit Association Test (IAT).

    4. Neuroimage. 2012 Feb 15;59(4):3845-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.09.046. Epub 2011 Sep 29.
    Grey matter alterations associated with cannabis use: results of a VBM study in heavy cannabis users and healthy controls.

    5. J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Aug;45(8):1055-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.01.004. Epub 2011 Feb 5.
    Medial temporal structures and memory functions in adolescents with heavy cannabis use.

    6. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 Jun;65(6):694-701. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.65.6.694.
    Regional brain abnormalities associated with long-term heavy cannabis use.

    7. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Oct;37(11):2368-76. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.92. Epub 2012 Jun 6.
    Associations between cannabinoid receptor-1 (CNR1) variation and hippocampus and amygdala volumes in heavy cannabis users.

    8. Brain Res. 2010 Mar 4;1317:297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.12.069. Epub 2010 Jan 4.
    Gyrification brain abnormalities associated with adolescence and early-adulthood cannabis use.

    9. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2013 Nov;67(7):483-92. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12085. Epub
    2013 Sep 30.
    Is cannabis neurotoxic for the healthy brain? A meta-analytical review of
    structural brain alterations in non-psychotic users.

    10 . Neuroimage Clin. 2015 Apr 2;8:117-25. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2015.03.024.
    eCollection 2015.
    Poorer frontolimbic white matter integrity is associated with chronic cannabis use, FAAH genotype, and increased depressive and apathy symptoms in adolescents and young adults.

    11. J Neurosci. 2014 Apr 16;34(16):5529-38. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4745-13.2014.
    Cannabis use is quantitatively associated with nucleus accumbens and amygdala abnormalities in young adult recreational users.

    12. Br J Psychiatry. 2015 Jan;206(1):77-8. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.151407. Epub 2014
    Nov 27.
    Gross morphological brain changes with chronic, heavy cannabis use.

    13. Harefuah. 2013 Dec;152(12):737-41, 751.
    Short-and long-term effects of cannabinoids on memory, cognition and mental illness.

    14. Neuroscience. 2007 Mar 2;145(1):323-34. Epub 2007 Jan 10.
    Chronic use of marijuana decreases cannabinoid receptor binding and mRNA expression in the human brain.

    15. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Sep;37(8):1713-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.06.015. Epub 2013 Jul 8.
    A systematic review of diffusion weighted MRI studies of white matter microstructure in adolescent substance users.

    16. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2010 May;32 Suppl 1:S31-40.
    Cognitive abnormalities and cannabis use.

    17. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2010 Nov;35(6):409-12. doi: 10.1503/jpn.090177.
    White-matter abnormalities in adolescents with long-term inhalant and cannabis use: a diffusion magnetic resonance imaging study.

    18. Biol Psychiatry. 2002 May 1;51(9):766-9.
    Neuroendocrine abnormalities in recreational ecstasy (MDMA) users: is it ecstasy or cannabis?

    19. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Feb;22(2):114-22. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jul 8.
    Substance use and regional gray matter volume in individuals at high risk of psychosis.

    20. Gesundheitswesen. 2008 Nov;70(11):653-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1100396. Epub 2008 Nov 27.
    Impact of cannabis consumption on brain development and the risk of developing psychotic disorders.

    21. Neuroimage. 2008 Jul 1;41(3):1067-74. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.02.064. Epub 2008 Mar 14.
    Corpus callosum damage in heavy marijuana use: preliminary evidence from diffusion tensor tractography and tract-based spatial statistics.

    22. Addict Biol. 2014 Jul;19(4):722-32. doi: 10.1111/adb.12027. Epub 2013 Jan 14.
    Modulation of brain structure by catechol-O-methyltransferase Val(158) Met polymorphism in chronic cannabis users.

    23. Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Nov;199(5):386-90. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.090175. Epub 2011 Sep 8.
    Impact of cannabis use on thalamic volume in people at familial high risk of schizophrenia.

    24. Schizophr Res. 2011 May;128(1-3):91-7. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.02.014. Epub 2011 Mar 8.
    Greater white and grey matter changes associated with early cannabis use in adolescent-onset schizophrenia (AOS).

    25. Addict Behav. 2010 Jun;35(6):644-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.02.004. Epub 2010 Feb 10.
    Amygdala reactivity is inversely related to level of cannabis use in individuals with comorbid cannabis dependence and major depression.

    26. Biol Psychiatry. 1980 Oct;15(5):657-90.
    Cannabis sativa: effects on brain function and ultrastructure in rhesus monkeys.

    27. J Psychopharmacol. 2014 Nov;28(11):1030-40. doi: 10.1177/0269881114550354. Epub 2014 Sep 18.
    Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging reveals distinct brain activity in heavy cannabis users – a multi-voxel pattern analysis.

    28. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Feb;40(3):640-9. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.213. Epub 2014 Aug 20.
    Functional genetic variation of the cannabinoid receptor 1 and cannabis use interact on prefrontal connectivity and related working memory behavior.

    29. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007 Oct;194(2):173-83. Epub 2007 Jun 9.
    Functional MRI of inhibitory processing in abstinent adolescent marijuana users.

    30. Psychol Med. 2013 Oct;43(10):2087-96. doi: 10.1017/S0033291712002668. Epub 2012 Nov 29.
    Tensor-based morphometry of cannabis use on brain structure in individuals at elevated genetic risk of schizophrenia.

    31. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Dec;37(10 Pt 1):2418-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.09.006. Epub 2012 Sep 20.
    Confounders of excessive brain volume loss in schizophrenia.

    32. Behav Brain Res. 2010 Dec 20;215(1):45-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.06.023. Epub 2010 Jun 25.
    Functional MRI evidence for inefficient attentional control in adolescent chronic cannabis abuse.

    33. Addict Biol. 2015 Jun 3. doi: 10.1111/adb.12274. [Epub ahead of print]
    Acute effects of cocaine and cannabis on response inhibition in humans: an ERP investigation.

    34. Addict Biol. 2013 May;18(3):570-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2011.00417.x. Epub 2012 Jan 20.
    Neural responses associated with cue-reactivity in frequent cannabis users.

    35. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012 Jan;69(1):27-36. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.161.
    Induction of psychosis by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol reflects modulation of prefrontal and striatal function during attentional salience processing.

    36. Addiction. 2012 Jan;107(1):206-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03566.x. Epub 2011 Oct 7.
    Psychological dysregulation, white matter disorganization and substance use disorders in adolescence.

    37. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Feb;22(2):114-22. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jul 8.
    Substance use and regional gray matter volume in individuals at high risk of psychosis.

    38. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2011 Jun;33(5):523-31. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2010.535505. Epub 2011 Jan 10.
    Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) is a simple tool for detecting executive deficits in chronic cannabis users.

    39. Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(32):5070-80.
    Effects of cannabis use on human brain structure in psychosis: a systematic review combining in vivo structural neuroimaging and post mortem studies.

    40. Neurobiol Dis. 2015 Jun 18;82:176-184. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2015.06.006.
    Adolescent cannabis exposure interacts with mutant DISC1 to produce impaired adult emotional memory.

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