Today, I will be picking apart an article recently published by Hartford Connecticut’s newspaper The Hartford Courant titled Other states show why legalizing marijuana is a bad idea. The article is written by Kevin Sabet. For those in the know (of which I wasn’t), yes, this guy.
When I looked over this article yesterday before work, I initially assumed it was just the musings of yet another localized health expert (Docter, police officer, guidance councillor). Just another expert who couldn’t be bothered to update their knowledge, yet still felt entitled to be taken seriously.
It’s a common sight in newspapers all over North America, particularly where conservative values reign supreme. As such, I was surprised to learn that this man is apparently known to be a leading voice in the anti-legalization discussion. To my eye, what I read certainly does not come across as something I would expect from such a prominent figure in a movement.
But my opinion of the speaker is irrelevant.
Before I proceed further, some clarification. I didn’t choose this article to bring harsh light to the author or the publisher. I chose it because it’s a fitting example of an increasingly common type of anti-marijuana legalization Op-eD showing up in local papers all over North America. The platform for this one happens to be a Connecticut newspaper, but you can find the same types of articles on the websites of many local newspapers and tv stations.
In his state of the state address on Wednesday, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said that “like it or not, legalized marijuana is a short drive away in Massachusetts and New York is soon to follow.” He followed up this statement by calling on the state legislature to have a commercial marijuana market in place by 2022.
The governor must be unaware of the dangers from today’s high potency marijuana. It’s a long ways away from the days of Woodstock weed.
Here, we come to the first reason for my previous critique of the author. This ain’t the weed that we were smokin in our dumb daze!
The man isn’t wrong. Over the course of the 5 or so decades in which marijuana has been a schedule 1 substance in the US of A, the potency has only increased. Interestingly enough, though, one can credit THAT change to the unregulated business racket that marijuana was allowed to become.
There never has been profitability in strains or products catered to the beginner to moderate user. The money is in the chronic long term users. Repeat smokers who will always be buying, as opposed to recreational weekend users when it’s time to party.
It does sound terrible. However, addiction is the driver of more than a few enormously profitable business models involving everything from fast food to mobile app development. There is a reason why many apps behave in a way that is akin to a casino slot machine.
I didn’t say that this was right. I am saying that this is how it is. If the marijuana industry is following this path, it’s hardly a trailblazer.
On account of this, the only type of marijuana that is available in most areas has been so-called Superweed. Or at the very least, strains that have pushed the THC content higher and higher while dropping the paranoia-equalizing CBD content close to (if not) zero.
The end result is an end product that can be WAY more than an inexperienced user is prepared for (I have such a story from my youth). And in the worst-case scenario, the possibility exists to trigger latent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
Can modern-day marijuana be a trigger to mental health problems?
The answer is a definite Yes. People making that claim are not wrong. HOWEVER, if you use this argument as a reason to keep marijuana prohibited, then I implore you to update your research JUST A LITTLE.
If you are not promoting education, you are not a crusader for mental health. Rather, you are a crusader for schizophrenia.
Gov. Lamont must also be unaware that Massachusetts’ marijuana regime is in shambles. More than 100 communities have banned pot shops in their neighborhoods, poison control centers report massive increases in marijuana exposure in children and emergency room visits related to marijuana have soared. All this, while tax revenues have been unremarkable.
Additionally, the black market is thriving while the industry regulatory board is quick to sweep concerns under the rug, as evident in the recent coverage of numerous cases of the vaping illness being tied to marijuana products purchased at Massachusetts dispensaries.
What’s more, a comprehensive report on drug trafficking found that state-level legalization of marijuana has served as a boon for criminal gangs and cartels. They are using the cover of legalization to conduct massive growing operations. Furthermore, the report found that these illicit grows — that often occur on public lands — present a significant threat to local environments and natural resources.
No state presents a better example of the failure of legalization than California. Its marijuana industry, barely three years old, is facing extinction due to its failure to compete with the illicit market. Gov. Gavin Newsom has resorted to sending in the National Guard to combat extensive illegal growing operations. Worse, law enforcement found a foreign cartel running a trafficking organization out of suburban housing developments and utilizing indentured servants as workers.
If marijuana is grown illegally in one county or state, is it staying there? Is most of it being sold locally? Or is it being exported to prohibition states to be sold at higher premiums?
If the threat of stronger underground markets and increased crime isn’t enough to convince lawmakers that marijuana commercialization is not the way forward for Connecticut, perhaps the potential loss of life will.
According to a report released last week from the American Automobile Association, drivers in Washington State involved in fatal car crashes who were under the influence of marijuana doubled after the state legalized the drug. The study also stated that about one in five drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 tested positive for marijuana, mirroring similar results out of Colorado.
Lawmakers should also consider the potential harms to the future generations of Connecticut.
A recent survey on youth drug use found marijuana vaping among high school seniors has more than doubled since 2017, and daily marijuana use among 8th and 10th graders rose significantly since 2018. While the rate of use and acceptance of marijuana has risen among our youth, the same metrics on other drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes have declined.
The reason for this shift is simple: the rhetoric surrounding marijuana legalization efforts have sent the message to our kids that use of the drug is safe. This could not be further from the truth.
However, this doesn’t mean you can drink a cup of household bleach without consequence. Just as marijuana use (excessive use, in this case) isn’t without consequence.
We are no longer dealing with the weed of Woodstock. Marijuana commercialization has resulted in the creation of a new, super strength substance that features THC levels of upwards of 99% in some of the infused candies, drinks, concentrates and vaping devices.
The potency has been going up for decades as it is. Good thing we’re all paying attention to details.
From research conducted on much lower potency marijuana, we know that marijuana use has significant links to serious mental health conditions — such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. Prolonged use in adolescents has also been shown to lower IQ and motor function and even result in higher odds of addiction to the drug. Speaking of addiction, marijuana addiction rates among teens in states that have “legalized” marijuana are 25% higher than in states that have not. And again, this is what we know about low potency marijuana. The data is far behind what is available in states that have legalized.
It’s almost like it would have been beneficial to have allowed studies on marijuana in the years before it would become a legal commodity. Who would have thunk it?
1.) Education is key. Ensure that EVERYONE (not just teenagers) knows the potential consequences of the marijuana products they are buying. Funny thing . . . that is a WHOLE lot easier accomplished in a legalized framework than in an untraceable underground framework.
2.) While the addiction rates among teens in states that have “legalized” marijuana are 25% higher than in states that have not could be explained away by the increased general usage trend and novelty, it’s still worth considering. That is, where exactly are they getting this age-restricted substance?
If it’s from adults furnishing them illegally, then fix that. If it’s from illegal sources, then that is another fix. Frankly, a balance between law enforcement reducing bureaucratic red tape on the legal industry.
If all other categories of intoxicant use are falling, then those same measures are obviously working.
Lawmakers in Hartford must now decide if they will aid Big Marijuana in its addiction-for-profit scheme or if they will stand with the multitude of health and safety organizations. The harmful consequences of marijuana commercialization are not worth less than one percent of a state budget. Let’s keep Connecticut healthy and productive.
Now THAT is hilarious!
Coming from a man who was head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for pretty much the entirety of the modern day opioid crisis, this is a joke.
Marijuana legalization is the future. The way to proactively work for the health and safety of the public (especially the children!) is to treat marijuana in the same way we treat everything else.