Theories have been postulated about the growing societal acceptance of marijuana use, from there being less of a religious connection to people being less concerned about the risks of marijuana use.
A study published in Social Science Research showed that national opinion polls outline several reasons for the increased marijuana acceptance. Those include the two mentioned above and several others, including a shift in opinion on the criminal justice system.
In an interesting twist, factors like race, gender, and education level do not factor into the change in perception related to marijuana. These factors typically weigh heavily in such a wide shift in perception, but the change for marijuana use does not follow typical patterns.
One big factor in rising approval rates is the decline in perception that occasional use of the drug comes with high risk and potential dangers. This, in fact, is responsible for roughly 1/3 of the decrease in opposition to marijuana.
The strongest push against marijuana use occurred in the 1980s, when President Reagan’s administration really supported and pushed for anti-drug rhetoric to flood the media. However, the push against drugs in the 1980s has been viewed as the catalyst for a criminal justice system that went overboard in punishing offenders.
Today’s society is in favour of righting these wrongs, particularly towards minority communities who took the brunt of it. They are focused on these changes nationwide, and living in a state where marijuana has been legalized has not shown to be a determining factor in the perception of the changing legal trends.
Changing state laws regarding marijuana use is also making the Southern border safer, another step towards societal approval. The Cato Institute studied marijuana seizures at the U.S. border with Mexico over time and found that smuggling has decreased 78% in a five-year period.
This has led to a correlating 70% decrease in the value of Border Patrol seizures, since marijuana accounts for the majority of the drugs seized during smuggling attempts between ports of entry. However, the consensus is that safer borders and reduction in drug smuggling is to be celebrated as a success.
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