As legalization of pot ramps up in California what should citizens and especially parents be considering?
1. Legalization doesn’t make pot less dangerous.
We’re told marijuana is not dangerous. Not True. Marijuana is psychoactive impacting the brain and the body. Today’s pot is 10-40 times stronger than in the ‘60s or ‘70s. “Edibles” can be 60-90% THC, the “crack cocaine” of pot. Psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, paranoia are linked to and more prevalent among marijuana users. One marijuana cigarette has the impact of smoking 5- 20 tobacco cigarettes. Pot impacts perception of space and time, the heart, the reproductive system, the unborn, the nursing baby and more. It causes or exacerbates mental disorders.
Research indicates psychiatric patients who use are more than twice as likely to turn to violence than nonusers. Studies indicate a “more constant relationship” between cannabis and violence than between alcohol or cocaine use and violence.
2. No one has been going to jail for simple possession of marijuana and legalization doesn’t reduce arrests.
Even in 1997 just 1.6 percent of the state inmate population was held for offenses involving only marijuana and less than one percent of all state prisoners (0.7 percent) were incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge.
Of all federal drug defendants sentenced in federal court for marijuana crimes in 2001, the overwhelming majority were convicted for trafficking. Only 186 people-received sentences for simple possession and of the 174 for whom sentencing information is known, just 63 actually served time.
But, Colorado arrests related to marijuana are up. There continues to be local, state and federal laws related to marijuana that are violated even in states that have “legalized” including driving while intoxicated, illegal businesses, drug dealing and trafficking. General crime also goes up where marijuana is legalized. Denver DA Mitch Morrisey indicated, “every crime type in every community increased after legalization.” Law enforcement is busier now than ever addressing marijuana related crime.
3. Marijuana is addictive and is a gateway drug.
Researchers, including Harvard brain biologist, Bertha Madras, indicate marijuana primes the brain for addiction to other drugs including opiates. The 2016 US Surgeon General report “Facing Addiction in America.” lists marijuana over twice as often as other illicit drugs. An estimated 30% of users show signs of addiction. At a typical addiction treatment center you find the majority of patients started with marijuana, especially young patients.
4. Legalization and regulation don’t reduce the black market.
The Denver Police say Colorado’s black market in marijuana is booming and arrests up. Cmdr. James Henning said. “Last year, Denver police arrested 242 people for illegally growing, selling or extracting marijuana.” Henning's team seized 8,913 pounds of marijuana that year. In just three years, law enforcement across the country has seized 4.5 tons of marijuana from Colorado. California produces between 6 and 10 times more marijuana than it consumes. “Legal” states are national drug cartels.
5. The cost of marijuana use will out strip the tax revenues.
We’re told we need to legalize weed for tax revenues never considering the societal cost of institutionalizing drug dealing and use; including the cost of high school and college drop outs, the cost of addiction and therapy, the cost of lost work and productivity, the cost of the impaired driving crashes, the cost of children improperly cared for by addicted parents. The costs far outweigh tax revenues and taxes encourage the black market.
So, what can and should we do?
We need a massive national reeducation program on today’s marijuana. We need targeted federal enforcement against ads, large growers and traffickers. We need to tell our friends and associates the real facts about today’s pot and discourage use and misinformation. We also need to create local ordinances to protect our communities and cities from the industry. About 60% of California (and Colorado) cities have banned pot businesses. San Diego city officials have chosen the industry over health and safety. Citizens and children will be the victims of their poor policy decisions.
Scott Chipman is Southern California Chair of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana CALMca.org and San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods
30% of users show signs of addiction: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, SAMHSA, CBHSQ.
http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.htm. Accessed October 11, 2016.
Equal to 5 cigarettes: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4508121&page=1
Arrests up in Colorado: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/25/colorado-marijuana-traffic-fatalities/