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3 Major Social Changes We're Witnessing As Pot Becomes More Legal

So far, recreational marijuana has been legalized in 11 states and the District of Columbia. This represents a significant shift in the cultural landscape—but not necessarily in the ways you might expect. Here, we'll take a closer look at a few of the social changes that have come about as a result of the growing decriminalization of pot.

Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Marijuana is the world's most commonly used "illicit" substance, meaning that law enforcement officials have spent a correspondingly high (no pun intended) amount of time on its confiscation. Without these arrests, the system saves a great deal of money that can be funneled into more productive social benefits. In addition, the states that have legalized marijuana are allocating a portion of the revenue to youth education, substance abuse prevention, and localized health care. It's also worth noting that there's no evidence in an uptick in crime in states where weed is legal.

Fortunately, over the last few years we have also seen some legal states start to remove cannabis misdemeanors off of peoples' public records from when cannabis was illegal in said states.

Smoking Treated Like Drinking

Despite the fact that alcohol is currently legal in the US, there are numerous PSAs and other campaigns devoted to the dangers of overuse. That's likely to be the case with recreational weed as well, especially considering the fact that it hasn't been legal for long. Cannabis used to be considered far more taboo, and after only a couple years of recreational states, it has become a more common thing in social situations that may have avoided cannabis use prior. However, the evidence suggests that the legalization of marijuana may actually cut down on alcohol sales. Already, in California, driving while high is already more popular than drinking and driving. That's not to say that users of either substance should ever drive while impaired, but the growing accessibility of pot (coupled with the very popular belief that driving stoned is better than driving drunk) could lead to problems with vehicular safety down the road.

Acceptance of "Microdosing"

As researchers have noted, it isn't considered socially acceptable to drink alcohol all throughout the day. Nor would healthy, functioning adults take cold medicine simply because they enjoy its effects. However, marijuana users are known to take doses of cannabis all day long, whether they're taking it for recreational or medical purposes. Microdosing is often done to avoid the "high" but get other benefits of the drug, such as anxiety relief and help with sleeping. The product is unique in that cross-functional sense—you can use it for either purpose and at any time, without the looming threat of social stigma. More states are expected to legalize recreational marijuana in the next few years, and it's possible that it could even see decriminalization on the federal level within the same timeframe. As the matter progresses, you can expect the substance to become more socially acceptable to people from all walks of life.

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