The legalization of marijuana has spread around the country in recent years. Currently 33 states allow it for medical use and 11 for recreational. Yet scientists and researchers say a paradox about it endures: There has been broad public experience with pot, but the medical community still doesn’t know enough about the health effects — and what it does know is often obscured by enduring myths.
Opponents say marijuana poses a public health and safety risk, and some are morally against legalization. Proponents, however, argue that it is not as dangerous as alcohol and point to evidence that it has therapeutic benefits, such as stress and pain relief.
Advocates also see it as a moneymaker for states and a necessary social justice initiative. Marijuana laws have disproportionately affected people from minority communities, contributing to mass incarceration. States where the drug is legal have sought to retroactively address the consequences of marijuana prohibition, often including provisions allowing for the expungement or vacation of low-level marijuana convictions.
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