Politicians must recognize Americans' changing perceptions of marijuanaPosted by On

An unexpected consequence of both the coronavirus pandemic and the movement for much-needed criminal justice reform has been the spotlight they have put on the nation’s evolving — and often contentious — marijuana policy. 

Marijuana consumption has spiked during the COVID-19 lockdown, leading to heated debate over whether dispensaries should be deemed “essential services.” 

Meanwhile, as protests continue demanding police reforms, many are using marijuana decriminalization/legalization as a way to promote racial justice in communities of color — which have suffered disproportionately high incarceration rates as a result of the war on drugs.

Marijuana’s an increasingly prominent role in American society, and therefore in shaping public policy, raises important questions concerning what Americans really think about cannabis — and in line with these shifting perceptions, how we should move forward as a nation with legalization and commercialization.   

The pro-cannabis lobby rightly points to polls that show Americans overwhelmingly favor the legalization of adult-use marijuana. While that support remains strong, more-nuanced opinions are also emerging about both the potential risks and dangers such legislation poses— and how we need to monitor and regulate marijuana products.

For example, just over half of the respondents in the 2020 Rosenthal Cannabis Study believe today’s more-powerful marijuana — including edibles, and other intensely concentrated…

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