Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I drug along with substances like MDMA and heroin, but researchers know cannabis poses far less harm than those drugs and can even be beneficial for some medical conditions. Cannabis prohibition hasn’t been fairly enforced, either, and has only deepened our country’s racial divide: arrests for cannabis use have fallen heavily on Black Americans, despite the fact that Black people and white people use cannabis at similar rates. The prohibition of cannabis in our country has been a moral and political failure, and it’s time we ended it.
But we need to be smart about how we legalize cannabis. We don’t need another extension of big pharma, with corporate farms crushing small business. We need to have reasonable rules to prevent underage access and impaired driving, rules like the ones we have for alcohol. But other states have solved these issues, and we can too. Colorado, for example, uses the tax money it raises from cannabis sales to fund schools, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and homelessness prevention. Two-thirds of all Americans believe cannabis should be legal, and eleven states and Washington, D.C., have already legalized it. Minnesota should join them.