Fully 70% of those who have ever tried marijuana, including 89% of those who have tried it in the past year, say the use of marijuana should be legal. That compares with just 35% of those who have never tried marijuana. Support for legalization has increased since 2010 among those who have ever tried marijuana (by six points) as well as those who have not (by 10 points).
There are a number of social, legal, and economic factors that have driven our society's transformed (or, some might say, "enlightened") attitudinal shift toward the drug. Arguably the greatest reason was the failure of the so-called " war on drugs ," a federal campaign that was popular throughout the Nixon and Reagan presidencies but has been increasingly open to justified condemnation in recent years. Its critics contend that its policies, estimated to be worth over $1 trillion in aggregate since 1971, wrought havoc on American society by overburdening federal prisons and disproportionately targeting black Americans and other minority groups. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, over $15 billion was spent on the effort in 2010 alone, making it not just a tremendous expense, but an ostensibly futile one, particularly in the wake of a growing heroin epidemic that has ravaged communities across every demographic group.
Learn about how a study for the Fraser Institute attempted to calculate the tax revenue the Canadian government could gain by legalizing marijuana.
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The effects of regular marijuana consumption are quite different. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a division of the National Institutes of Health) has released studies showing that use of marijuana has wide-ranging negative health effects. Long-term marijuana consumption “impairs the ability of T-cells in the lungs’ immune system to fight off some infections.”  These studies have also found that marijuana consumption impairs short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information or perform complex tasks; slows reaction time and impairs motor coordination; increases heart rate by 20 percent to 100 percent, thus elevating the risk of heart attack; and alters moods, resulting in artificial euphoria, calmness, or (in high doses) anxiety or paranoia.  And it gets worse: Marijuana has toxic properties that can result in birth defects, pain, respiratory system damage, brain damage, and stroke.