On January 18, 2023, the United States Virgin Islands legalized cannabis. Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) signed into law the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act. It will regulate recreation and distribution for adults. It will also create more economic opportunities with the extra tax revenue that will be generated for the government. The new act was one of Bryan Jr.’s goals since his inauguration as governor of the US Virgin Islands. Bryan Jr. wanted to enact this law in order to be able to pardon minor crimes such as simple possession of marijuana.
The legalization of cannabis has become more common in recent decades. According to Cannabis Business Times’ Cannabis Legalization World Map, in 2021, more than 40 countries have legalized the use of cannabis. The Pew Research Center asked US citizens their opinion on cannabis and why it should or shouldn’t become legal. The results showed those who oppose the legalization of cannabis believe that the drug is dangerous to individuals and society. People who think the drug should be legal point to the medical properties of cannabis.
Why people think Cannabis should be legalized
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, and stems that come from two different cannabis plants: sativa and indica. These plants have the active chemical, or cannabinoid, THC, that produces a mind-altering effect. This is usually referred to as the feeling of being high. CBD is also a cannabinoid, the same as THC, but it does not include the feeling of being high. The exclusion of the psychoactive ingredient makes CBD less addictive than THC.
THC and CBD are currently used in US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medicines. These products treat nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy as well as help patients with the side effects of AIDS. More medications are currently under trial to treat sclerosis as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, there is currently one medicine approved by the FDA that contains CBD: Epidiolex. This medication treats rare seizure disorders.
Why people disagree with the legalization of Cannabis
The stigma around cannabis products stems from the unknown long-term effects of using them, especially in young children. There is a lack of information on the potential effects that the drug might have on adolescent minds. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development, or the ABCD study, is attempting to do just this. In its next phase, ABCD will begin to research the effects of substance abuse starting at an early age. This will help us understand the long-term effects of the use of cannabis.
Another stigmatized subject of cannabis use is its addictive properties. This is due to THC. Cannabis Use Disorder, also known as CUD, is the inability of a user to stop using cannabis. Especially users who experience health or social problems. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, CUD affects 10% of the 193 million cannabis users worldwide.
The move toward the legalization of cannabis is being popularized across the globe. Many point to its efficacy within healthcare. Others point to its potential negative effects on society. Legalizing Cannabis is usually done to reduce criminality rates, raise revenue, or offer new medicinal treatments for certain illnesses. As legalization becomes more popular, the public debate on cannabis will continue to be a point of contention.