Legalize Pot, Increase Homelessness

By | Aug 4, 2014

weedWe have spent decades developing best practices, analyzing data, and re-prioritizing funding. We have dedicated years to promoting “housing first,” rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing. We have attended thousands of conferences, forums, and workshops. And, now, I think this country has finally figured out how to end homelessness.

The answer? Don’t legalize marijuana in your state.

Okay, so this supposition has not been field tested yet. There’s no national symposium highlighting it as a solution, and communities are not using it as a best practice.

But, if you ask the front-line homeless service providers in the state of Colorado, they will tell you that homelessness has increased since marijuana became legal.

I know this sounds like a stereotypical perspective on homelessness—as if everyone living on the streets is a “pothead”—but here’s the alleged issue:

Leaders in Colorado claim that homeless youth from the rest of the country are flocking to their state because they want access to legal marijuana. That’s allegedly the reason homelessness is increasing.

Most experts cannot deny this weed-motivated migration.

More and more states are considering the legalization of cannabis. Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia have initiatives that might give their citizens the right to take a toke of this newly-legalized drug.

Does this mean an increase in homelessness is just around the corner for these states? And would legally keeping joints out of people’s hands reduce homelessness?

It seems to me that, if every state legalized cannabis, then the incentive to migrate to another state would end.

Then, maybe we can return to more sober approaches to ending homelessness. Like providing more permanent supportive housing.


  1. Posted Jan 30, 2015 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    There is absolutely no research to back this up. This article is implying that marijuana legalization is increasing homelessness. That's preposterous!

  2. keenkhanna
    Posted Feb 25, 2015 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    It's not only the youth migrating from state to state (which is an individual's constitutionally protected right, so long as they are of age), but so many families with seriously ill children are uprooting entire lives (jobs, businesses, natural support systems, known cultures), too. The problem of homelessness is not a moral one, neither is the issue of access to optimal healthcare or freedom of religion

    As surely as a few thoughtful front liners, executive managers and psychologists tested their paradigm shifting models of Housing First and Supportive housing with a small group study in New York and then a statewide program in Utah, the option to continue to display this type of uninformed, prejudiced an judgemental thinking became tantamount to willful indifference.

    Here's a solution for you: support a Federal Mandate for the decriminalization of both MM and RM with regulations and guidelines akin to OTC drugs, allow states to establish legal ages or sales taxes or quality control and marketing practices, and eradicate the stonewalling of the DOJ, FDA, DEA and so many unions, special intererests – and allow these youth, families and out-of-meaningful-workers to grow POT in heavily subsidized, no strings attached housing developments – in each and every state of the union.

    While we're at it, let's give preference to chronically homeless families, veterans and appropriately disabled or mentally challenged individuals. This would mean the groupnyou call "youth" may have to wait their turn at the table, though I would have them volunteer as interns if they meet qualifications, because they can probably outgrow and out produce anyone when it comes to cultivating, care giving and bud best practices of the bud tending trades (want a friendly wager?). Let's not fail to take lessons from the numerous community supported agriculture, farm to table and urban farming movements and how economical, therapeutic and efficient they have proven to be. Homeopathic workshops and herbal apothecaries would be in order for phase three, of course.

    Not that these things should be considered inalienable, God given, individual rights, though. No, those battles have been fought, right? But they would nearly erase homelessness, and many forms of social apathy, malaise and dis- ease, you can be sure of this. When I was a volunteer and activist, a college student, an employee, an independent contractor or a homeless person in three different southwestern desert and coastal communities, we all still called this sort of thing a no-brainer. I think we still do, in fact!

  3. Posted Jun 28, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Great article. Very thought provoking. Thanks!

  4. willowspringstz
    Posted Aug 14, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    That is an arguable point since some would argue crime would decline and that marijuana is healthier. However, there can be negative consequences to marijuana for those who smoke it. They might end up with a marijuana addiction that could lead to disastrous consequences for their life. Yet, there's always hope if they need to go to a rehab.