Medical Marijuana is Creating a Healthier Society
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
In recent years, more and more medical marijuana advocates have argued that legalizing cannabis can generate comprehensive social benefits for a state. That has already been borne out in Virginia in recent months, although legislation legalizing cannabis for medical use only passed last year. What is becoming clear is that allowing citizens of the Commonwealth to get medical marijuana cards has resulted in social benefits for the entire state, ranging from issues of equity to the fiscal.
Correcting the War on Drugs
One of the most startling facts to emerge in the months since legalization is just how drastically arrests have gone down in the state. While this may seem obvious on one level, the results are stark when seen in print— in the Richmond area alone, marijuana arrests have gone down by 90 percent since cannabis was legalized.
With such a significant reduction in arrests, experts feel confident that the legalization has had the intended, positive effect on issues of social equity, righting the wrongs done during the war on drugs. According to Jenn Pedini, the Executive Director of Virginia NORML the 90 percent reduction “indicates that the public policy is performing as intended and in a manner that is consistent with post-legalization observations from other states.”
An Issue of Social Equity
For many advocates, this effect of legalization has always been a matter of social equity and was a key driver in developing the legislation in the first place. During debate over legalization, many supporters of cannabis cited one fact again and again— that black Virginians were 3.5 times more likely to get convicted for a marijuana offense.
Legalizing cannabis, advocates asserted, would correct this imbalance. The final draft of the legislation included extensive language on social equity and also included a clause that prioritized so-called “social equity” applicants, including graduates of HBCUs, when granting state licensing for cannabis businesses. When a delay in enacting the legislation loomed, cannabis advocates were the first to speak up, asserting that any delay would only lengthen the amount of time minority communities would have to experience inequity when it came to arrests and sentencing.
Relieving the Lifelong Burden of a Juvenile Offense
The legalization of medical marijuana in Virginia has also had a positive effect on underage Virginians with possession arrests on otherwise clean records. Historically, these blemishes on their records had created a range of difficulties later on in life when looking for a job, trying to get scholarships, or even applying for a loan. Without this burden, these young Virginians are now better able to get jobs and participate in society and the Virginia economy at large.
Encouraged by cannabis advocates, Governor Northam moved up the timetable for sealing records on past pot possession misdemeanors. What’s more, those with felony convictions related to cannabis could also petition courts to have their convictions expunged.
Benefits to the Virginia Economy
The legalization of cannabis in Virginia may well be a boon to the state economy as well. According to a report run in November 2020 by the investigative arm of the state assembly, the burgeoning marijuana industry could create as many as 18,000 new jobs. The report also predicts that sales tax along with a 25 percent marijuana tax could generate over 300 million dollars each year for the commonwealth, a sum equivalent to 10 percent of historical, annual state revenue.
Across the river, Maryland is taking note of these changes and may be ready for change, as well, continuing the cannabis revolution in the DMV. With the support of 75 percent of Marylanders, it could well be the time for legalization on the north side of the Potomac. Given the benefits already experienced by Virginians, Maryland advocates can build a pretty persuasive case for legalization.
How Medical Marijuana Improves Health Equity
Health equity is an increasingly relevant issue in many states. Within Virginia, the legalization of medical marijuana has demonstrated how positively legal access to cannabis can affect issues of health equity. What is health equity? It is the concept that any citizen should have fair and equitable access to the medical interventions they need to thrive and live the healthiest lives possible. With legalization, many individuals in Virginia are now able to legally access medication that is essential to their well-being or course of treatment.
Conditions as diverse as stress and epilepsy can involve treatment plans that include cannabis, and those who need medical marijuana no longer need to risk their livelihoods or freedom to access a medically necessary substance.
Medical marijuana is bringing a good deal of value to Virginia. Remember that medical marijuana products are only legal for those who register for a medical marijuana card. For those interested in qualifying for a medical marijuana card, start the process today so that you can enjoy all the benefits cannabis has to offer in the commonwealth.
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At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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