Why is marijuana illegal and What’s the financial influence?
The legal status of marijuana is still being debated in a number of countries including the U.S. as a whole.
Some states have legalized marijuana in one capacity or the other, but the definite legal status still has not been decided, nor will it be in any foreseeable future. Other countries have it relatively easier in this regard, as this type of controversial decisions are not as complex on a smaller level.
Medicinal effects of pot are still being contested as well, with pharmaceutical industry insisting that any effects are mild at best and the placebo effect is doing most of the work, whereas the opponents claim the drugs made by these pharmaceutical companies target the same conditions but are more expensive and way more damaging than anything that grows naturally. Both standpoints have their faults and merits but this is not about whether or not marijuana should be legalized, this is about why it is (still) illegal.
It should be said that prohibition on marijuana happened under the same social movement wave that outlawed alcohol in the U.S. and they probably would not have stopped there, either. All drugs were considered fair game and no cost was spared to wipe them all out, regardless of the level of harm they might inflict. However, unlike heroin or cocaine, whose side effects were widely documented and proven, marijuana was prohibited on a different ground. It is interesting that not even the people who got it banned in the early 20th century did not claimed it caused damage to the body; rather, it was banned on moral grounds, as it “made white women want to socialize with Negroes and Hispanics” or something along those lines.
Later on, as science progressed and alleged harmful effects were being disproven one after another, there was a claim that marijuana was a ‘gateway drug’, meaning anyone who uses it will turn to heroin next, which was also proven false. Even if we allow for the possibility that people turn to drugs because of their own unresolved issues, it still does not mean that using cannabis will lead you to heavier drugs down the line – people who have “graduated” to heavier stuff maintain that they were going to do it regardless, so the claim does not stand.
So why is marijuana still illegal? Politics has something to do with it, and finances. In one word, money is the key. Pot is cheap and readily available, whereas pharmaceuticals have to be bought. People control the public opinion, and big industry controls the money; all politicians must balance on this scale. From a legal standpoint, even the marijuana dispensaries, farmers and shops who work legitimately are facing a backlash that is mostly directed by banks, of all institutions. It turns out that, even if the business is legitimate, banks can still be held accountable for a series of criminal charges if they accept their money. Wall Street can be a difficult opponent, and a tough nut to crack even for experienced politicians, so until marijuana industry kicks off, they will be no match for the lobbies that rule the Capitol Hill. And marijuana is still illegal under federal laws, so that part will not change for a while. However, as they continue to grow and amass funds and influence it will become progressively difficult for politicians to ignore them.
From a legal standpoint (and technical, I guess), this is still ‘drug money’ and regulations preventing banks from accepting it are still in place and can be applied even if no crime was actually committed. The states that have legalized pot have no qualms about accepting tax money; the IRS has yet to return a single tax payment from a marijuana business on moral grounds. They will, however, institute a 10% fine if payments are not done electronically, and at the same time, they are a huge part of the reason why banks won’t do business with marijuana businesses in the first place.
So they will prevent you from having a bank account, but will still fine you for not using your bank account, which you are not allowed to have because of them. That makes literally no sense, with or without pot. But there is an actual cause for concern here. Since a lot of these establishments are unable to deposit their money in a bank, they are forced to keep it stashed next to a sizeable amount of drugs, and nobody sees anything wrong with that. It is arguably a good thing that most people who visit these places are stoned, because if they figured out how easy is to rob these places, all hell would break loose. Perhaps that was the idea all along.