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Pot Is Becoming Legal in Many Parts of America. Psychedelics Could Be Next

By Gage Skidmore: Governor Gavin Newsom speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

In 2016, California led the way with the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Many states followed suit and now 22 of them, along with three territories and the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana. 

Since revenues are relatively low on sales of medical-use marijuana, recreational pot is what states rely on to fill their coffers. 

But has the legalization of what many purport as “medicine” done more harm or good for society? 

Revenues from Pot

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization organization, states made a combined total of $2.7 billion in tax revenue from recreational marijuana in 2020. 

California, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2016, made more than $1 billion in tax revenue between 2020 and 2022.

According to one report, a portion of revenues earned in California goes to cover regulatory and research costs, although the actual percentage is not reported. The remainder is divided between anti-drug programs targeting kids (60 percent), environmental programs (20 percent), and public safety (20 percent).  

“Legalizing cannabis for adults has proven to be a wise investment,” Jared Moffat, the state campaigns manager at MPP, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Not only are states seeing the benefits of a regulated market and far fewer cannabis-related arrests—they’re benefitting in a direct, economic way, too.”

While the state may see a spike in revenue from the legal sale of Mary Jane, its colloquial term, not all costs are monetary, and its benefits are unproven.

Negative Effects of Marijuana

More and more studies are confirming that long-term use of marijuana negatively affects memory and IQ. 

Marijuana is also often considered a “gateway drug” or one that leads to the use of other more harmful narcotics. With consistent use, eventually, the desired effects of pot become minimalized and users seek better, more potent highs, similar to building a so-called “tolerance” to alcohol or pain medications. 

Again, while data and studies are crucial to wise policy decision-making, I don’t need a bunch of studies to confirm that pot makes people stupid. I’ve been around enough people, particularly here in California, that use it and I wouldn’t say it sharpens their mental acuity. I’ve also listened to those who use it regularly go to any lengths possible to justify its use. That is typically known as addiction.

One of the pro-marijuana arguments is that it’s natural and medicinal. So is sugar and look at the toll that substance is taking on American’s health. Anything taken in excess can become poison. 

Benefits Not Realized

One of the main arguments for the legalization of cannabis has been the hope that it would free up law enforcement to focus on other types of crime. 

However, the move has not squeezed out the black market and illegal operations for the substance. According to a report from Rutgers Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies, “cannabis’ illegal market is anything but dying; in some cases, it’s more active than it has been in years.”

California reported several massive illegal cannabis busts, with 20 tons of cannabis confiscated off a series of farms, $8 million worth of plants found in a thought-abandoned warehouse alongside a busy highway, and 100+ illegal operations busted in the southern town of Anza in just one year. 

Furthermore, police reports suggest that arrests for pot crimes have increased following the drug’s legalization. Among such reports are a series of police records secured by the Los Angeles Times in early 2019. Compared to the rates of cannabis smuggling from before legalization was implemented, the documents suggest that arrests have risen as much as 166 percent since 1996.

And clearly, California law enforcement is doing anything but focusing on “other types of crimes” as lax prosecution policy has made it almost impossible for them to do so. 

We Want a New Drug 

Since cannabis has been made rather widely legal for recreational use, the federal government is now tackling legislation and regulation of a new category of drugs: psychedelics

What was once limited to the hippies of the free love movement and fringe university communities such as Berkley (one of the homes of some of the promoters of psychedelics such as Timothy Leary), psychedelics and specifically what is known as “plant medicines” have made quite the resurgence in the past decade for treating mental disorders such as PTSD and depression. 

Ingestible plants such as mushrooms and ayahuasca (a native plant found in the Amazon) have been displaced from their natural habitat and moved to underground “ceremonies,” popping up everywhere in the States from brownstones in Brooklyn to lofts in downtown L.A. 

It’s the new Soylent in San Francisco as tech creatives use it to “open their minds” to uncover new insights for technological evolution. 

While psychedelics are being touted as the next “cure” for mental health-related disorders, I can tell you from experience these so-called silver bullets come with many side effects not always measurable by scientific means. 

The “spiritual” nature of these substances encourages people to dismiss what they really are – powerful drugs. 

In the new-age, love and light world there is a term known as spiritual bypass. In short, it is the desire to jump to the expanded bliss phase of consciousness without going through the hard stuff of facing one’s darkest moments and fears head-on in the real world. 

As with pot, many, if not most, people do feel quite amazing when using psychedelics. The world looks different, sometimes more beautiful and peaceful. These substances help the mind access a different realm – the realm in which one gets a glimpse of what I call God.  

However, even with professional guidance, while they may provide powerful insights, these substances can be highly dissociative. Meaning, the ideas and feelings one encounters while on a psychedelic trip can be hard to integrate back into the real world. Sometimes, real-world challenges are magnified as a user becomes increasingly disenchanted with the world as it is, and its sometimes ugly reality.  

Furthermore, the promotion of these drugs beyond a very limited and restrictive use magnifies an already overemphasized therapeutic culture, promulgating the idea that almost everyone needs healing all the time. 

According to today’s cultural paradigm, people ought to be seeking healing from everything from their whiteness to their internalized misogyny. Consciousness, rather than evolving naturally from encountering difficulties and obstacles in life and overcoming them, must be forced. 

How long do we continue to turn a blind eye to the underlying reasons behind the increasing rates of pain and mental illness in this country? Is it possible our lifestyle choices along with public policies are simply promoting more angst, division, and hatred from which we are seeking relief? 

Psychedelics, just like marijuana, while potentially helpful for some of the population, are not risk-free. 

We need to carefully consider the long-term moral implications of a society hopped up on mind- and mood-altering substances, whether natural or synthetic. Maybe we should start returning to institutions, like churches and civic organizations, and habits, such as physical labor and activity, that cultivate what people are truly seeking – purpose, meaning, and God. 

Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review.

Written By

Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.