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Thursday October 11, 2018

Updated on 8/3/2021

By Michael Walters


While cannabis legalization continues to spread across the United States, so too does the failed remnants of the “War on Drugs.” Even though it’s widely considered a waste of government resources, countless states and law enforcement agencies uphold the federally illegal status of cannabis, prosecuting any consumers in their wake. This tirade of oppression against cannabis consumers has brought with it devastation to individuals and families across the nation, leaving them with little to no path for success. Now that cannabis is legal in several states and jurisdictions across the U.S., some companies are trying to make a difference and end the criminalization of cannabis once and for all.

Ending the Criminalization of Cannabis

It’s tough to predict whether or not the United States is nearing the federal legalization tipping point, but with Canada set to finalize nationwide legalization on October 17, 2018, we may see an American legalization push aimed at keeping up with our neighbors to the north. However, the current administration’s constant waffling on cannabis reform leaves many people in the dark on what will actually happen.

Despite the fair degree of ambiguity, marijuana legalization in the U.S. could benefit our nation immensely. From reducing the impact of the black market to making cannabis medicine more accessible to those in need, there are plenty of reasons to end the criminalization of cannabis. But perhaps one of the most motivating is to reverse marijuana convictions for those who have been charged with offenses that would be acceptable in a legalized market.

Several cities within states like California, Vermont and Washington have already passed measures to clear nonviolent cannabis convictions and more are seeking to do the same – like Oregon, who is pursuing granting automatic expunctions for people with past cannabis offenses in their upcoming 2019 legislative session. Although every state isn’t considering these measure, the growing trend is certainly an encouraging sign and a validation that the War on Drugs was a failure that unnecessarily devastated the lives of thousands of people.

The tides are changing though as even some law enforcement officials are beginning to realize the waste of resources being dumped into the war on marijuana. After approving a measure to clear marijuana convictions, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón stated “California voters have clearly sent a message…The war on drugs has been a failure, and more specifically, the war on marijuana has been a failure.” Examples like this where members of the government are starting to acknowledge the need to end cannabis criminalization could very well be what the marijuana industry needs to speed up federal legalization and end prohibition once and for all.

The Cannabis Industry Steps Up

While government and law enforcement agencies continue to come around, there are many cannabis companies working hard to end the negative stigma surrounding cannabis and repair the damage perpetrated by the War on Drugs. As the cannabis industry continues to grow, we expect more and more marijuana businesses to step up and help end the criminalization of cannabis. And with the right education, awareness and support from the industry, hopefully businesses outside of the cannabis sector will start to join the cause.

How to Get Involved

It’s not just businesses who can get involved in the fight against cannabis prohibition. Support from individuals is a critical component of ending cannabis criminalization and the cannabis industry needs all the help it can get to end negative stigma. So, how can you help? It’s easy! There are literally tons of ways to make a difference in the fight against cannabis prohibition.

Support Pro-Cannabis Businesses

Showing your support for businesses that are pro-cannabis is a great way to build recognition for the cannabis movement. There are even many businesses outside of the cannabis industry who approve of cannabis culture. Try to seek out brands and businesses like these to normalize the plant and help them continue to promote awesome cannabis-focused initiatives.

Collaborate with Likeminded Individuals

Attending cannabis events can be one of the most rewarding experience for a marijuana enthusiast – not to mention that you can make valuable connections with industry decision makers and influencers. The cannabis industry needs people who stand up for the plant and want to make a difference. Many cannabis events focus on progressing cannabis reform across the country and are excellent places to create ideas and materialize them in a positive manner.

Respect the Plant, Don’t Play Into Stereotypes

We can all play a part in ending cannabis prohibition once and for all! photo credit

This should go without saying, but if we plan on normalizing the cannabis plant to the same level as alcohol or tobacco, then the stereotypes surrounding marijuana must come to an end. Stoner stereotypes have plagued the legitimacy of the cannabis industry for quite some time, as have antiquated negative views on the plant backed by conjecture, hearsay and a lack of scientific research. Do your part in ending negative cannabis stigma by promoting cannabis education and advocating for safe, legal consumption practices.

Final Thoughts

We’re still a long ways away from ending cannabis prohibition altogether, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible! The criminalization of cannabis is an outdated and ineffective practice and, with enough support from individuals and businesses alike, we can continue to break down the barriers between cannabis and normalization into society. After all, no one should have their lives ruined for using a plant or be barred from the opportunities non-consumers have. Cannabis has proven to be a wonderful plant with a positive impact on countless people’s lives and it should be given the credit it deserves! If you’re in agreement, then get out there and do your part to stop the war on marijuana once and for all!

What are your thoughts on ending the criminalization of cannabis? Comment below!

Photo Credit: Alice Donovan Rouse (license)


Michael Walters Michael Walters

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, Michael started his journey in the cannabis industry managing content, communications, and technical writing for one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. In 2016, Michael pivoted to the ancillary sector to become PotGuide's Content Manager and was responsible for overseeing all of PotGuide’s editorial endeavors and content marketing strategies. Now, Michael is PotGuide's Director of Content & Marketing, focusing his efforts toward new educational content and exciting media endeavors.

With a life-long passion for cannabis knowledge and education, Michael devoted himself to becoming a subject matter expert on marijuana at an early age. Now, Michael has worked in the marijuana industry for over four years helping break down negative stigma and promoting safe cannabis practices. An avid consumer himself, Michael has worked tirelessly to improve content marketing strategies for cannabis businesses and is devoted to creating meaningful content that is useful to a wide variety of marijuana consumers. Follow Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram for updates and insights.

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