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Just to Keep an Open Mind, What Are Some Arguments Against Legalizing Marijuana?

Opponents of marijuana legalization have sincere, but largely debunked, concerns.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Large sections of the U.S. population still oppose marijuana legalization. To understand where they are coming from, here are some of the major reasons they still stand in opposition even in the face of growing acceptance of marijuana.

Sebastian Kopp | EyeEm | Getty Images

Making money off heavy users.

When it comes to alcohol and tobacco, big companies make much of their profits off those with serious addiction to their products.

For example, according to the Washington Post, 30 percent of people in the U.S. don’t drink at all. Another 30 percent have one drink per week. So, there’s 60 percent of the market bringing in little money for alcohol companies. The next 20 percent drink around six drinks per week or less.

It’s the high-volume users in the final 20 percent that drive sales. The top 10 percent of users consume almost 74 drinks per week - more than 10 per day. The 10 percent below them consume 15 drinks per week.

Would this play out the same with marijuana? Perhaps. The obvious counter argument is that  those who have a glass of wine with dinner aren’t penalized because someone else is drinking two bottles, so why do the same with marijuana?

Also, cannabis is still not proven to be physically addictive like alcohol or cigarettes.

Related: New Study Confirms What Many Already Know: Cannabis Helps Treat Insomnia

The "gateway drug" myth.

Some people -- most notably anti-marijuana Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- argue that marijuana can open the door to the use of more powerful drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), studies have found that in some cases, the use of marijuana made people more likely to have an alcohol abuse problem within three years.

But marijuana opponents don’t always note the “however” part. The NIDA goes on to report that:

  • The majority of marijuana users do not go on to use “harder” drugs
  • Alcohol and nicotine -- both legal for adults -- can prime the brain for moving on to drug abuse
  • Many factors contribute to drug abuse problems, especially a person’s social environment

Related: Yet Another Study Finds Marijuana Reduces Opioid Use

Use by teenagers

No one on either side of the marijuana legalization debate argues that teen use of marijuana is acceptable. Studies have found that issues related to cannabis use by teens include memory loss, chronic cough and long-term learning problems, according to the NIDA.

However, there is disagreement on whether legal cannabis leads to more teen use. A recent study showed that teen use of marijuana has not increased in states where marijuana was legalized. Another study from Columbia University this year also found no increase in adolescent use in states where medical marijuana is legal.

These issues rank among the top reasons marijuana legalization opponents have taken their position. While most of the population is aligned against them, expect these arguments to continue as long as marijuana laws are the subject of debate.

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