Cannabis is arguably the most confusing plant on Earth. The nature of this plant isn’t what mystifies me though, it’s the drastic and polarizing views from both ends of the spectrum whenever cannabis comes up in conversation. As an avid and open cannabis user who has made a living out of loving this plant, I have spent many awkward conversations with extended family members or high school classmates trying to deflect the ludicrous ideas or thoughts revolving around cannabis. If you talk to someone about their favorite flower, they might not even have an answer for you, but if you talk to them about cannabis, well they have a PHD in Hypothetical Fact Calculation with an emphasis in Cannabis Pseudoscience. My point is that everyone has an opinion on this plant and no one has it 100% right, but everyone is starting to agree, we shouldn’t be caging, fining, or legally harassing other people for using cannabis. So here are 7 talking points that you can use the next time you find yourself in an awkward legal debate.

  1. Cannabis is legal, in one way or another, in 33 states. That is 33 states whose governing bodies have collectively decided that cannabis is far less harmful than Reefer Madness once taught us. If you include the 9 other states that have at least taken steps toward lessening the punishment for cannabis possession, that leaves only 8 states that remain fully illegal with no medical use allowed.

2. Cannabis is still a Schedule I drug meaning that the federal government considers it to have no medical benefit. States having medical cannabis programs directly contradicts this claim. Minimum cannabis criminal justice reform in the way of rescheduling would at least allow easier and further research into cannabis.

3. This is one of my favorites; cannabis, which is 100 percent illegal on a federal level making it much harder for our country and economy to benefit from it’s legal use and sale, is also deemed essential during even the peaks of the pandemic. I’m sure you see the irony.

4. It is morally reprehensible to allow humans to sit in cages for nonviolent cannabis offenses while other humans in the same country, often times even in the same state, are making millions for selling vastly more cannabis day in and day out.

5. We have the largest prison population on Earth at 2.2 million. With 250 million adults, that’s almost 3 percent of our adult population behind bars. The next largest prison population is in China with 1.5 million and a population of 1.39 billion putting their percentage of imprisonment at 1.07 percent. The difference is staggering and the War on Drugs has a lot to do with it.

6. Despite nearly identical usage rates, black Americans are 4 times as likely as white Americans to be arrested on cannabis related charges. Not only is there a drastic racial difference in the rate of arrest and incarceration for cannabis offenses, but on the other side of the market, only 4 percent of legal cannabis businesses are owned by black Americans. With the War on Drugs disproportionately affecting our communities of color, we would expect legalization to at least allow equal chance and opportunity for those same communities.

7. My last reason is one of the most widely known facts of cannabis; cannabis use alone has never been the cause of a single death. With a fact like that, what is prohibition protecting us from?

One day, our global society will look back on cannabis prohibition and laugh at our manufactured fear and propaganda. We will be utilizing cannabis as medicine, fuel, in textile production, and many other aspects of our daily lives and we will wonder why we were so afraid. The first step is talking about it and changing minds through dialogue and open conversation. Hopefully these 7 facts will help you have a solid argument the next time you step up to the plate against an anti-cannabis rant.

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