There’s no hiding the buzz that’s building around the marijuana industry. A highly cited survey recently conducted by Pew Research shows that 52 percent of Americans support legalizing the drug, while 45 percent explicitly think it should not be legal. The margin may be thin, but a simple majority can get a lot done in America.
There is an obvious social appeal to legalization. Marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs in the country despite its legal status. A separate Pew study found that 48 percent of adults have at least tried marijuana. Within that figure, 12 percent said they have tried it within the past year. Recreational use is still more popular than medical use, and probably will continue to be despite legality.
But the marijuana debate wouldn’t be making so many waves if it were simply an issue of recreational use. There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates legitimate and compelling medical uses for the drug. As it stands, there are eighteen states (including the District of Columbia) that have laws or regulations recognizing some form of legitimate medical use of marijuana. ProCon.org — an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization — estimates that there are more than 2.4 million medical marijuana patients in the U.S.