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The Major Obstacles to Marijuana Legalization

With the majority of this country in favor of marijuana legalization, you would think it would be easier to pass. And while the United States did make progress this past election in four states (California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada), it’s been – and continues to be – an uphill battle.

With study after study showing just how safe marijuana is – safer than alcohol and tobacco, for one thing – you would think it would easier to get it legalized. But as I’ve talked about before, money means a lot in politics. And the alcohol, pharmaceutical, and private prison industries have a lot of it. But they want more.

Imagine you have a pain, but instead of buying Advil, you smoke a joint. That’s the pharmaceutical industry losing profits — and they can’t stand it. The harder it is for people to buy weed, the more money the pharmaceutical industry stands to make. Which is quite ironic, considering that the over-prescription of painkillers is a large cause of the current heroin epidemic in this country, but I digress.

Then there’s the alcohol industry. Imagine you have some friends over, and you can either drink a couple beers, or pass around a bong. Again, they don’t want to lose the profits. In fact, in Massachusetts we saw some ads before the election trying to convince people to vote against legalization. Guess who paid for them? Yup, the alcohol industry.

And finally, we have private prisons. These are for-profit prisons that mostly care about making money. This article, focusing on the private prisons in Arizona shows how these prisons make more money when they hold more prisoners. So, of course they don’t want marijuana legalized, because it means less prisoners, and therefore, less profits.

That what it comes down to: profits. These industries have found it most profitable to pay politicians to keep marijuana illegal, so that they don’t lose business. And because we live in a country where corporations matter more than the people, that means a hard battle for marijuana legalization. It’s not impossible, though, we’ve seen that. But it certainly would be a lot of easier if these industries had less power.

Images/GIFs: Cover, 1, 2, 3

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Irina Kovari

U Mass Amherst

I'm a senior marketing major at UMass, with a passion for writing and equal rights. I'm on MASSPIRG at UMass, drink too much caffeine, and eat too much chocolate.
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