Disclaimer: “The statements, views, and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the statements, views, and opinions of RE/MAX Integrity and Rocket Home Finder.”
Please read with an open mind, and read both blogs on our website regarding cannabis written by same author to give readers both sides of the issue.
Freedom is a good thing. Right? We have fought and continue to fight for freedom every day…as Americans and as individuals. Our country was founded on a desire to be free from a tyrannical government. Wars have been and continue to be fought to protect the freedoms we do have. Could freedom then be a bad thing? Can my freedom infringe on your freedom—causing you to feel “less free?” This question is not that uncommon and definitely comes into play when taking on the controversial issue of legalizing cannabis.
There is always more than one side to a story. Opinions about the recent legalization of recreational cannabis are no exception. Those who advocate for and against it have a variety of views and stances. Those in favor believe this freedom increases tax revenue, stimulates the economy, benefits public health, reduces crime rates, and frees up vital resources in the criminal justice system…among other things. Those against the legalization of marijuana have an argument that is almost the exact opposite. Opponents argue it adversely affects the economy, harms public health, and increases crime rates as well as leads to an increase in recreational drug and alcohol use…among other things.
There are also other aspects to think about. Does legalizing marijuana really affect the economy? Inarguably, it has increased tax revenue. It has also proven to motivate people to move to states where cannabis is legal. Is that a good thing? That depends on who you ask. What type of people base a decision to relocate due to the legalization of a recreational drug? Over time, this surely has the potential the shape a community, a region, and perhaps, an entire state.
One of the largest and most easily noted concerns has been in public health. Hospital visits for marijuana related issues more than doubled in the first year of recreational legalization in Colorado1. An increase in accidental ingestion by children and subsequent ER visits has been reported as well. Statistics like this are continuing to surface in the numerous states that followed Colorado’s lead in legalizing cannabis. Oregon, just beginning its second year of legalized recreational marijuana, is already reporting an uptick in marijuana related calls to Poison Control and hospital visits.
Growing marijuana can have a serious impact on real estate as well. It is not uncommon for growers to rent a single family residence and even rewire electrical and plumbing to accommodate a grow. These rental homes are often destroyed, not only from neglectful tenants, but also from mold (due to the high humidity required to grow cannabis). Furthermore, the surrounding property owners/tenants are impacted by the strong smells (even from an indoor grow), often loud noises, and even occasional fire or explosion associated with grows. Outdoor grows can be very unsightly especially in rural areas and are often easy to spot. The large wooden fences and black plastic are a quick turn off for most potential home-buyers. “Colorado homes within a half-mile of a marijuana business often have lower property value than homes in the same county that are farther out…Neighborhoods with grow houses are the least desirable, with an 8.4% price discount.”2 These issues beg the questions: If a cannabis grow devalues a neighboring property, is that freedom, or is it property damage? If a landlord denies tenancy due to a cannabis grow, is that discrimination or defense of property? Who gets to make these determinations?
Finally, statistics show that public safety is also being negatively impacted by these growing freedoms. To what extent varies depending on the state and the study, however, numerous studies do show an increase in marijuana related car crash fatalities. For example, a study conducted in Washington showed that “The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from eight to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.”3
The effects of these new freedoms are still being discovered and can often be hard to measure. Many effects were not anticipated such as the those on farmers and agriculture from nearby cannabis grows, the concern over illegal exporting of large quantities of marijuana to other states, and the hotly debated dispensaries that quickly pop up on neighborhood corners. Is freedom still desirable if it infringes upon another’s freedom? Perhaps it depends on who you ask. Who has the right to determine whose freedom is more valuable? If there is a middle ground in these heavy issues, it would surely be of great value to those who find it.
Blog by Becky Abrams
1 NBCNews.com. Emergency Room Visits Double for Marijuana Using Colorado Visitors. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/emergency-room-visits-double-marijuana-using-colorado-visitors-n525081
2 Realtor.com. Will Legal Marijuana Give Home Prices a New High?. http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/legalizing-marijuana-gets-housing-prices-high/
3 AAA.com. Fatal Road Crashing Involving Marijuana Double After State Legalizes Drug. http://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/05/fatal-road-crashes-involving-marijuana-double-state-legalizes-drug/