By Lanny Swerdlow
A new Gallup poll shows most Americans find alcohol and tobacco to be more dangerous than cannabis and in very significant numbers. While 76% find tobacco to be very harmful only 23% find cannabis to be very harmful. Although only 30% find alcohol to be very harmful, that is more than finding cannabis very harmful. Perhaps the most telling statistic is the Not Very or No Harm category, with only 4% classifying tobacco in the Not Harmful category and 16% classifying alcohol as Not Harmful, but a very robust 40% of Americans place cannabis in the Not Very/Not at all Harmful category.
What a tsunami of change. Cannabis used to be seen as the Demon Weed capable of destroying lives, endangering health, and driving people to rape and murder. Now the vast majority (75%) of Americans have rejected those demonizing labels and either feel cannabis is only somewhat dangerous or Not Very or No danger at all. The poll found that the use of cigarettes remains stable at a historic low, with just 12 percent of adults saying that they’ve smoked a cigarette in the past week.
Of interest is that the Gallup poll found more people smoke cannabis than tobacco with 17% of Americans currently smoking cannabis with over 50% of Americans saying they have at least tried the formerly demon weed once. It should be noted that the poll asked about “smoking” cannabis, so the total is likely considerably more then 17% as it doesn’t include those who use products that are not inhaled like edibles and oils.
Although in the case of vaccines and climate change, many Americans are not following the science, but when it comes to cannabis they are. A 2015 study conducted by researchers from the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia at the University of Victoria and the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse at the University of Ottawa, found that health-related costs per user are eight times higher for alcohol consumers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers.
The report states, “In terms of [health-related] costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.” The study noted that “94 percent of social costs for cannabis are linked to [law] enforcement.”
With this change in public opinion, the feds are beginning to play catch-up with the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommending to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that cannabis be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. If the DEA follows through on the recommendation, it will be the most significant change in federal drug policy since Nixon prohibited cannabis in 1972.
Although cannabis should not even be in the CSA (alcohol and tobacco are not listed in the CSA), Schedule III puts it into the same classification as Tylenol with codeine. As much as that change is a major step in the right direction, rescheduling cannabis from 1 to 3 does not end criminalization. People can still be subject to criminal penalties for mere possession.
The move however would have a significant impact on the tax obligations of cannabis business owners as it removes cannabis from the IRS 280E tax provision which prohibits business owners from deducting business expenses from income derived from the “trafficking” of Schedule I or II substances.
No doubt this change in cannabis policy by the Biden administration coincides with the politics of getting millions of young people and independent Americans to vote Democratic in 2024.
Politics aside, we continue to move in the right direction thanks to all the legalization measures that have been passed by the states. For more of views by Lanny Swerdlow RN visit Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project.
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