Canada is legalizing marijuana. Here are 9 reasons the U.S. should too.

Canada announced plans to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by July 2018, proving again they are the U.S.'s cool next-door neighbor.

The move to legalize the recreational use of pot fulfills one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign promises. While medicinal marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001, this would be an unprecedented move for a large, industrialized country. It's also something the U.S. should consider.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March 2016. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.


Even if "But Canada is doing it" isn't a good enough reason to throw your support behind the legalization push in the U.S., there are plenty of other compelling cases to make for legalized recreational pot.

1. For one, more than half of Americans support legalization.

A 2016 Pew Research study found that 57% of U.S. adults (and rising) believe marijuana should be made legal. 37% believe it should be illegal.

A medicinal marijuana vending machine in Canada. Photo by Don MacKinnon/AFP/Getty Images.

2. The idea that pot is a "gateway drug" is not entirely accurate.

It's not actually a gateway drug, at least in the way your D.A.R.E. classes suggested. Yes, regular users are more likely to try other drugs, such as cocaine, than those who don't smoke marijuana, but there's not a whole lot of evidence that it's because of pot.

3. Enforcing marijuana-related violations is expensive, and resources could be better used elsewhere.

According to a 2016 report from Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, almost 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in the U.S. Add on the costs of keeping people behind bars and the court system, and it's clear this is a mess.

Flowering medicinal marijuana plants. Photo by Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images.

4. Legalization would add tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy overnight.

A 2010 CNBC article pinned estimates at a somewhat vague figure of anywhere between $10 billion and $120 billion per year. That's some serious cash, which leads to the next point...

5. There's a whole lot of tax revenue to be made off legalized marijuana, and there are a lot of government programs that could use the extra cash.

From July 2014 to June 2015, Colorado generated nearly $70 million in taxes from legalized marijuana. The next year, the state brought in around $200 million in taxes.

A Vancouver man sits on a beach smoking a bong on April 20, 2016. Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images.

6. Test cases in states like Colorado and Washington show that it doesn't actually cause an increase in crime.

While Denver has experienced a slight uptick in crime in recent years, there's nothing to suggest that it's due to the state's marijuana legalization, with "marijuana-related" crimes making up less than 1% of all offenses.

7. It's less dangerous than a lot of other things that are legal, so hey, why not?

Excessive alcohol use is responsible for an estimated 88,000 deaths each year. Cigarettes are responsible for more than 480,000 deaths annually. Prescription drug overdoses make up another 25,000 deaths. But marijuana? There's not a single reported case of someone overdosing on marijuana, and indirect effects (it can impair your ability to drive, for example) can be avoided.

A medicinal marijuana vending machine at the BC Pain Society in Vancouver. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward.

8. And speaking of those other drugs, many are a lot more addictive.

Cigarettes, opioids, alcohol, and caffeine are all more addictive than marijuana. While some people report getting "addicted" to marijuana, 91% of those who have used it do not.

9. And finally, the continued "war on drugs" directly and indirectly leads to thousands of deaths in the U.S. and Mexico each year at the hands of violent cartels.

Legalizing marijuana could take power away from violent drug cartels, reduce illegal border crossings, and save countless lives.

Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale, Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Health Minister Jane Philpott discuss legalization of marijuana. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP.

Only time will tell if the U.S. follows in the footsteps of our neighbors from the north, but hey, there's a bunch of reasons why we probably should.

A marijuana plant grows in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Vancouver. Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP.

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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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