Last updated on: 11/13/2018 | Author:

Pro & Con Quotes: Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal?

PRO (yes)

Pro 1

Peggy Flanagan, Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota (D), stated:

“[I]t is past time to safely legalize adult cannabis use… prohibition doesn’t work….

Legalizing adult-use cannabis is about our economic future. It’s about expanding our economy and creating jobs across the state. It’s about health, allowing us to regulate the industry and to ensure that products are safe and educating the public about the facts of cannabis use. It’s about public safety, allowing law enforcement to focus on violent crime and expunging the records of people who are convicted of non-violent offenses involving cannabis to give them a second chance. It’s about recognizing the way that we have been doing things isn’t working, and we can change.”


Kyle Jaeger, “Minnesota Governor Proposes Marijuana Legalization and Expungements Funding in Budget Request,”, Jan. 24, 2023

Pro 2

The USA Today Editorial Board, stated

“The strongest argument for Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition finds its roots in the far reaching harms and disparities that stem from its criminalization. The nation’s misguided war on drugs will continue inflicting harm until cannabis is decriminalized.

Nonetheless, decriminalization alone is not enough. Given the risks associated with marijuana, the nation needs the federal government to shift its posture from prohibition to regulation. To make that shift effectively, Congress needs to take a hands-on approach.

That requires legalization.”


USA Today Editorial Board, “Time for Change: Federal Ban on Marijuana Use Causes More Harm than Good,”, July 31, 2022

Pro 3

Kamala Harris, then US Senator (D-CA), stated:

“Something else it’s past time we get done is dismantling the failed war on drugs – starting with legalizing marijuana… Between 2001 and 2010, more than seven million people were arrested for simple possession of marijuana. They are disproportionately black and brown. One stark example: during the first three months of 2018, 93 percent of the people the NYPD arrested for marijuana possession were people of color. These racial disparities are staggering and unconscionable. We need to legalize marijuana and regulate it. And we need to expunge nonviolent marijuana-related offenses from the records of the millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives.”


Kamala Harris, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, 2019

Pro 4

Jody Murphy, Democratic candidate for Governor of West Virginia, stated:

“We need to legalize the growth, cultivation, sale, possession and use of cannabis – both medicinal and recreational… We can generate millions of dollars in much-needed state revenue that people will willingly pay for. This is a huge untapped revenue stream…

We need to get past the moral objection to marijuana. We to need understand and separate the fact that legalization of marijuana is not the same as individuals condoning it.

Legalization is not moral acceptance.

This is a tax, a revenue stream willingly paid by folks, and will reap benefits for our working class folks and their families and our economy.”


Jody Murphy, “The Reluctance to Tax the Willing,”, Jan. 8, 2020

Pro 5

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, stated:

“For decades, communities of color were disproportionately affected by the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws.

Last year we righted that injustice when we decriminalized possession.

This year, let’s work with our neighbors New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to coordinate a safe and fair system, and let’s legalize adult use of marijuana.”


Andrew Cuomo, State of the State Address,, Jan. 9, 2020

Pro 6

Cory Booker, U.S. Senator (D-NJ), stated:

“There is no doubt in my mind that the federal government should not be in the marijuana prohibition business. It’s making us less safe, it’s costing taxpayers too much money, it’s violating our values. From every perspective—a libertarian perspective, fiscal conservative’s perspective, Christian evangelical perspective, progressive perspective—marijuana prohibition is just wrong… I am not going to be silent on this issue, especially when I can see—as the only senator that lives in a low-income inner-city community—the damage that has been done over decades of a failed war on drugs…

This war on drugs is a war on people, and not all people: It’s a war on poor people, on mentally ill people, on addicted people, and on people of color…

I have never smoked marijuana, I have never smoked a cigarette, I have never eaten marijuana… This to me is not an issue I come at through my own experimentations. I come at this as an issue of justice, as an issue of safety for our communities, as an issue of utter fairness.”


Cory Booker, “Cory Booker Explains Why He’s Making Legal Weed His Signature Issue,”, Oct. 17, 2017

Pro 7

Cynthia Nixon, actress and 2018 gubernatorial candidate in New York, stated:

“I believe it’s time for New York to follow the lead of eight other states and DC, and legalize recreational marijuana… We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity. 80% of the New Yorkers who are arrested for marijuana are black or Latino, despite the fact that whites and people of color use marijuana at roughly the same rates. The consequences follow people for the rest of their lives, making it harder to get jobs, or housing, and for noncitizens, putting them in the crosshairs for deportation. In addition to ending a key front in the racist war on drugs, regulating and taxing marijuana would generate hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenues for our people, and create important agricultural opportunities for our state.”


Cynthia Nixon,, Apr. 11, 2018:

Pro 8

Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), stated:

“Taxing and regulating marijuana allows for control, which is a far better approach than prohibition for marijuana consumers, workers, communities, and the environment.

Only in a regulated system can the government ensure marijuana is tested for dangerous pesticides and contaminants. Regulation also allows for environmental and worker protections: When marijuana is prohibited, it is often grown in environmentally sensitive locations where streams are diverted, toxic waste is left behind, and illegal rodenticides enter the food chain and poison predators — including endangered animals. Relegating marijuana to the illicit market leaves workers vulnerable to sexual assault, wage theft, violence, and felony charges.

With regulation, governments control where marijuana is sold, when it is sold, and to whom it is sold. They decide what types of products to allow — and many ban products likely to appeal to minors — and how cannabis must be packaged and labeled. Regulators can also require information be disseminated with cannabis and can fund honest education campaigns to educate marijuana consumers and youth about making healthy decisions.

Ending marijuana prohibition also frees up law enforcement resources, allowing police to focus on crimes with victims rather than fighting an unwinnable 80-year-old war against a substance that is safer than alcohol.”


Karen O’Keefe, email to, Feb. 9, 2018

Pro 9

Josh Hamilton, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at The Jist, in a Sep. 26, 2017 article for titled “The Economic and Social Benefits of Taxing Marijuana,” wrote:

“There is no way to argue with the cold hard facts of the economic boom that states such as Colorado and Washington have experienced since the legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana…

As of September 2015, weed in Colorado was generating almost double the amount of tax revenue when compared to alcohol ($70 million to $42 million). Similarly, in Washington, the first year of legalization racked up an incredible $82 million in tax revenue.

Colorado has spent the money on a number of programs aimed at improving the standards of education and health in the state. These include school construction, marijuana education, anti-bullying campaigns, public school grants, youth mentoring, drug abuse and treatment, and grants to the Future Farmers of America. All of this has been paid for by the legalization of cannabis over a year in 1 state.”


Josh Hamilton, “The Economic and Social Benefits of Taxing Marijuana,”, Sep. 26, 2017

Pro 10

Rick Steves, television host, travel writer, and co-sponsor of Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state of Washington stated:

“Seventy-thousand people are locked up in our country every year; 700,000 people are arrested for possession of marijuana—non-violent crimes –  they’re not rich white guys; they’re poor people, and they’re black people…

We’ve got to take the crime out of the equation and treat marijuana as a health challenge and an education challenge. Marijuana is a drug. It’s not good for you, it can be abused. And it’s here today and it’s going to be here tomorrow. What we need to do is take that black market down and turn it into a highly regulated and highly taxed legal market, so that we can gain credibility and focus on the real risk to young people in our society which is hard drug abuse…

It’s 2017. We know what happens when we legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Use does not go up, teen use does not go up, DUIs don’t go up, crime doesn’t go up. The only thing that goes up is tax revenue. In my state [Washington], we have 300 million dollars this year in tax revenue…

We’ve taken a black market, which was empowering and enriching organized crime and games, and we’ve dismantled it. We’ve turned it into a highly regulated, highly taxed legal market, employing 26,000 people, especially in rural areas where we can use the employment.

We’ve been able to redirect precious law enforcement resources away from petty pot issues and on to serious crime.”


Rick Steves, press conference at the James R. Thompson Center, Nov. 28, 2017

Pro 11

Jill Gaebler, President Pro-Tem of the City Council in District 5, Colorado Springs, stated:

“The worst consequence of the marijuana black market is that the safety of our children is imperiled. A black marketer will sell marijuana to our children. A licensed and tax-paying retailer will not. They will not jeopardize their livelihood.

This proof, and other proof readily available from the Colorado Health Department’s website, clearly shows that teen marijuana use dips after legalization and that Colorado youths obtain 3 percent of their marijuana from a family member and 2 percent of it with their own MMJ card. That implies that 95 percent of their marijuana is coming from the black market.

And a black marketer sells other drugs, too. Inevitably, a customer requesting his usual ounce of pot will instead be offered heroin or meth. A legal and licensed business, by contrast, will always provide the requested product. When was the last time you went to a liquor store and were told they were out of beer but how about some opioids? Let’s be absolutely honest: The gateway to other drugs is not marijuana, it’s prohibition.”


Jill Gaebler, “Point/Counterpoint: Should Colorado Springs Legalize Recreational Marijuana Sales?,”, Aug. 20, 2017

Pro 12

Michael Harriot, writer and host of “The Black One” podcast, stated:

“Marijuana legalization is not just a political or legislative issue; it is also about race. It is intertwined with almost every issue facing African Americans and should be front and center on black America’s agenda…

Police are more likely to use force against African Americans because they are more likely to stop or detain them… Pot is often a contributing factor to police brutality because it gives officers the freedom to detain and arrest, and search people based on nothing but suspicion…

Stop and frisk is a marijuana-arrest tool… An analysis of the New York City Police Department’s 2012 data revealed that cops used stop and frisk to recover 729 guns but stopped 26,000, and arrested 5,000 people for marijuana possession. Blacks and Latinos were more likely to be stopped than whites but less likely to be found with a weapon or drugs.

By 12th grade, both white and black juveniles were found to have used marijuana at the same rate, but underage black children were arrested for it at higher rates than their white counterparts… If black children are arrested more often for marijuana, the long-term effects can be dire. A drug conviction could render a student ineligible for financial aid and could pop up during employee-background checks, eliminating opportunities for employment. The disparity in sentencing affects the families of the people convicted, increases the number of parents taken away from their children, and trickles down into poverty and unemployment rates.

Legalizing pot is not just a hot-button political topic; it is the first step in dismantling the war on drugs that has wreaked havoc on the black community for 80 years.”


Michael Harriot, “7 Reasons Black America Should Fight Marijuana Prohibition,”, Apr. 4, 2017

CON (no)

Con 1

John Hagen, attorney and writer, stated:

“If you have a ‘SCIENCE IS REAL’ sign in your yard and you’re in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, you should do some reading. The evidence emphatically disfavors legalization….

The underlying menace is potency. Today’s marijuana is not the Woodstock weed of bygone years (1% to 3% THC). Genetic engineering has brought plant potency above 17%, and concentrates (in edibles, vapes and other products) can approach 99%.”


John Hagen, “Follow the Science: Don’t Legalize Pot,”, Jan. 2, 2023

Con 2

Joe Carter, Senior writer for The Gospel Coalition, stated:

“[Many] have an outdated and erroneous view of the harms of marijuana. The belief that the drug is nonaddictive, relatively harmless, and no serious threat to individuals or society has been the rationale that’s led to the legalization of marijuana in over a dozen states….

Some churchgoers will still support legalization even knowing how it damages both individuals and society. But I believe many Christians who are concerned with loving their neighbor (Mark 12:31) will change their opinion based on the evidence. If we truly “seek the welfare of the city where [God has sent us] into exile” (Jer. 29:7), we’ll continue to oppose the legalization—and normalization—of this dangerous drug.”


Joe Carter, “Why Christians Should Oppose Marijuana Legalization,”, Oct. 22, 2022

Con 3

Peter Bensinger, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, stated:

“Marijuana isn’t harmless. Nor is it legal under federal law, and for good reason. It contains more than 460 different chemicals and, as the editorial board points out, it’s four to five times more powerful than the marijuana of the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s.

Extensive scientific research has documented serious harm to brain development for teenage regular users, major consequences for pregnant and nursing mothers and significant impairment for drivers and others performing sensitive tasks. Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana, leads the nation in use by 12-to-17-year-olds. Meanwhile, the gangs and drug dealers are cheering because their sales have skyrocketed, selling to minors and others at lower prices than dispensaries can offer.

Policy makers need to examine the consequences of legalization: changes in teenage use, traffic accidents and fatalities, emergency room and treatment admissions, homelessness and more.”


Peter Bensinger, letter to the Wall Street Journal,, Jan. 2, 2020

Con 4

Teresa Haley, State President of the NAACP Illinois, stated:

“We believe strongly that past and current practices of the tobacco, alcohol and marijuana industries prove that these industries target, exploit and victimize communities of color. At a time when we are all working to bring more opportunity and advancement to our communities, legalizing today’s high-potency marijuana will work counter to those efforts.

The vast majority of legal pot businesses are owned by wealthy, white investors. Commercial marijuana is NOT social justice. It’s about Big Tobacco, Pharma and Wall Street investors preying on people of color and hooking them on a dangerous product for years to come. It’s about putting profits ahead of people…

Today’s high-THC content marijuana, including liquids, oils and edible forms pose significant mental and
physical health risks, especially for our young people…

We have stood steadfast in our opposition to commercial marijuana in Michigan and New Jersey, and we urge you to do the same.”


Teresa Haley, letter to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly and the President and Majority Leader of the New York State Senate,, Mar. 13, 2019

Con 5

Patrick Kennedy, former US Representative (D-RI), and Kevin Sabet, Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, both Co-Founders of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), stated:

“[W]e should also recognize legalization for what it is: the large-scale commercialization and marketing of an addictive — and therefore highly profitable — substance…

In states that have legalized, youth marijuana use now exceeds the national average, the black market continues to thrive and employers struggle with more drug-impaired workers than before pot was legalized.

More heavy users of marijuana are reporting to drug treatment, and there have been more school infractions among kids caught with pot. Worse still, the only statistically representative national survey on marijuana use found last year that Colorado is the No. 1 state for youth marijuana use in the country.

Without action, the marijuana industry is poised to become the next Big Tobacco — a profit-hungry special-interest group looking after profits, not public health. We need to acknowledge that marijuana comes with its own set of health risks, including a strong link to psychosis and schizophrenia, memory loss and low academic achievement.”


Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet, “Don’t Let Big Marijuana Prioritize Profits over Public Safety,”, Mar. 8, 2017

Con 6

Alex Berenson, novelist and former New York Times reporter, stated:

“Marijuana causes pyschosis.

Psychosis causes violence.

The obvious implication is that marijuana causes violence…

[L]egalization signals that marijuana is not dangerous and encourages teen use. The states with the highest rates of youth marijuana use all allow legalized recreational sales or medical sales with very loose conditions.

The United States should not legalize cannabis nationally; it should move to discourage more states from legalizing, and it should consider pressuring those that have already done so to reverse course.”


Alex Berenson, Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, 2019

Con 7

Joseph G. Nesser, New York Family Court Judge, stated:

“Recreational marijuana is an intoxicating and addictive drug that poses serious medical risks similar to nicotine and alcohol…

Cannabis use increases the risk of heart attack, increases the heart rate, alters blood pressure, can induce an irregular heart beat, increases heart stress, decreases oxygen levels in the circulatory system and exacerbates angina…

In my court, some juveniles confessed that they burglarize homes or rob their victims in order to pay for recreational marijuana. The cost of recreational marijuana can total thousands of dollars and contributes to unnecessary financial difficulties for families. Recreational marijuana users are more likely to drop out of high school…

In short the negatives far outweigh the positives and that is why recreational marijuana should not be legalized.”


Joseph G. Nesser, “Just Say No to Legalizing Recreational Marijuana,”, Feb. 27, 2018

Con 8

The Gazette Editorial Board (Colorado Springs, CO), stated:

“Five years of retail pot coincide with five years of a homelessness growth rate that ranks among the highest rates in the country. Directors of homeless shelters, and people who live on the streets, tell us homeless substance abusers migrate here for easy access to pot.

Five years of Big Marijuana ushered in a doubling in the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, based on research by the pro-legalization Denver Post.

Five years of commercial pot have been five years of more marijuana in schools than teachers and administrators ever feared…

The investigation [by Education News Colorado, Solutions and the I-News Network] found an increase in high school drug violations of 71 percent since legalization. School suspensions for drugs increased 45 percent.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found Colorado ranks first in the country for marijuana use among teens, scoring well above the national average.

Commercial pot’s five-year anniversary is an odious occasion for those who want safer streets, healthier kids and less suffering associated with substance abuse.”


The Gazette Editorial Board (Colorado Springs, CO), “The Sad Anniversary of Big Commercial Pot in Colorado,”, wrote, Nov. 9, 2017

Con 9

Dana Stevens, Executive Director of Community Action, Service and Advocacy (CASA), stated:

“Articles about marijuana legalization tend to focus on income — how much money will come in because of the commercialization of marijuana — but rarely focus on the cost. Homelessness, mental health and drug treatment are often factors on the cost side of the marijuana equation. In many communities, homelessness increased after marijuana legalization.

Marijuana is scientifically linked with psychosis and the onset of several other mental health issues. And in San Diego County, marijuana is now the primary drug of choice among youth and almost all adults in treatment say they started with marijuana.

So drug addiction treatment costs also need to be considered. Not to mention the social costs when drug users don’t get treatment. Do the math – marijuana commercialization, income versus cost, leaves communities short-changed.”


Dana Stevens, letter to the editor, San Diego-Union Tribune, Nov. 20, 2017

Con 10

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), stated:

“Marijuana legalization, even if restricted to adults, may be associated with (a) decreased adolescent perception of marijuana’s harmful effects, (b) increased marijuana use among parents and caretakers, and (c) increased adolescent access to marijuana, all of which reliably predict increased rates of adolescent marijuana use and associated problems. Marijuana use during pregnancy, occurring at increasing rates, raises additional concerns regarding future infant, child, and adolescent development…

Adolescents are especially vulnerable to marijuana’s many known adverse effects. One in six adolescent marijuana users develops cannabis use disorder, a well characterized syndrome involving tolerance, withdrawal, and continued use despite significant associated impairments. Selective breeding has increased marijuana’s addictive potency and potential harm to adolescents. Heavy use during adolescence is associated with increased incidence and worsened course of psychotic, mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders.

Furthermore, marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent cognition, behavior, and brain development may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.

Marijuana-related policy changes, including legalization, may have significant unintended consequences for children and adolescents.”


The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), “Marijuana Legalization,”, May 2017

Con 11

Jeff Hunt, Vice President of Public Policy at Colorado Christian University, stated:

“In the years since [Colorado legalized marijuana], Colorado has seen an increase in marijuana related traffic deaths, poison control calls, and emergency room visits. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not decreased. And, numerous Colorado marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption…

According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, arrests in Colorado of black and Latino youth for marijuana possession have increased 58% and 29% respectively after legalization. This means that Black and Latino youth are being arrested more for marijuana possession after it became legal…

The true impact of marijuana on our communities is just starting to be learned. The negative consequences of legalizing recreational marijuana will be felt for generations… We’ve seen the effects in our neighborhoods in Colorado, and this is nothing we wish upon the nation.”


Jeff Hunt, “Marijuana Devastated Colorado, Don’t Legalize it Nationally,”, Aug. 7, 2017

Con 12

Jeff Sessions, 84th United States Attorney General, stated:

“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”


Jeff Sessions, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks on Efforts to Combat Violent Crime and Restore Public Safety before Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement,”, Mar. 15, 2017