Legalized marijuana does not create a drug haven

 

It seems Morgan is peeved that Republican Roger Stone has joined the “Green Rush” to make a legal buck from marijuana, now that 57 percent of the voters of California voted to legalize it for adult use last November.

As to Morgan’s assertion that those who would enter the legal marijuana movement are nothing but drug dealers “seeking fortunes on the backs of our youth,” may I remind readers that only those 21 and older will be able to access legal marijuana once recreational stores open in our state in 2018. Furthermore, studies from the governments of Colorado and Washington have found that youth use has remained steady or decreased following adult-use legalization in their states. Teens are reporting that marijuana is harder to find in states where the market is regulated instead of left to black-market dealers who don’t care how old their customers are.I was involved at the time Prop. 215 passed in 1996, legalizing medical marijuana in California. That movement grew out of grassroots efforts by AIDS activists in San Francisco and others who were advocating for access to medicines like AZT and cannabis. Others who needed cannabis to treat nausea from chemotherapy, and other seriously ill Californians joined the fight. Although financier George Soros contributed money in the last six weeks of the statewide campaign to get the measure on the ballot, in no way did he orchestrate the movement, as Morgan alleges.

Morgan states that marijuana “is tied directly to the pandemic of 144 overdose deaths every day from heroin and opioids.” Actually, a 2014 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that states with medical marijuana laws had 25 percent fewer opiate overdoses than did other states. That is because, as the National Academy of Science reported in January 2017, there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” for cannabis’s effectiveness against chronic pain, and so patients are able to step down from opiate use if they have access to cannabis.

Subsequent studies have found less opiate use and abuse, reduced prescription Medicare costs, and fewer opiate-related traffic fatalities in medical marijuana states. Senior citizens and others are increasingly embracing medical cannabis to reduce their use of prescription medications with serious side effects. It would be hard to point to a policy that has had more success in reducing the opiate epidemic than marijuana legalization.

As to pot smokers not being productive, one need only look at the former presidents, athletes, and other celebrities who enjoy marijuana responsibly or did so in their youth. Even Warriors coach Steve Kerr said this year he used it to help with his back pain after surgery. The vast majority of cannabis consumers are responsible citizens, and once its commerce is regulated and taxed, all of us will see its benefits without the attendant problems prohibition has caused.

Several studies, many of them conducted in the Bay Area, have shown that opening marijuana dispensaries actually reduces crime in the community, by taking dealers off the street into a safe, regulated environment.

Medical marijuana laws have even been associated with drops in violent crimes and property crimes. If we want more crime and more youth marijuana use, by all means let’s follow AG Jeff Sessions’s backwards plan to take us back to the “drug free” 1980s.

We need to base our policies on science and reason, not on unsubstantiated opinions.

Source: Opinion: Legalized marijuana does not create a drug haven

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