A recent opinion piece in the Cincinnati Enquirer captures the myopia of the prohibitionist argument against legalized marijuana. Authored by Mary Haag, director of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati, the piece is a nice summary of the prohibition position. (See the entire article here)
The points raised by Ms. Haag are ones frequently used by those in the prohibition camp in attempts to discredit legalization rationale. A review of Ms. Haag’s article provides us an opportunity to look once again at both sides of the argument.
Ms. Haag begins her article by stating “it is important to consider the perspective from a prevention organization that is diligently attempting to promote a healthy environment for our children and our communities.”
This is a transparent rhetorical device to place her organization on the side of the angels — that is, they are wanting to provide a healthy environment for the children — as opposed to legalization folks, who apparently do not care about kids or our communities! With the good and the evil now identified, Ms. Haag moves on to specific recommendations.
Ms. Haag’s first point is one increasingly made in opposition to medical marijuana. The argument is that medical marijuana should be subject to the same protocols under government regulation as any other medicine and that marijuana for medical use should not be decided by legislative or voter initiative, but only by government experts working for the Food and Drug Administration.
This argument would be easier to understand if the federal government had not been actively obstructing research on medical marijuana for the past 50 years. Marijuana research is subject to government rules that DO NOT APPLY to any other drug research. It is disingenuous to decry the lack of research while at the same time resisting attempts to do just that. In this vacuum, there is real life research occurring across the country as millions of Americans are finding relief from a variety of ailments as a result of using medical marijuana. The results of that research is apparent in the growing wave of voter-approved medical marijuana states as citizens are making their own decisions while Nanny government officials cling desperately to a failed prohibition policy.
Ms. Haag lists a number of problems allegedly stemming from legalized marijuana and the one that grabs most people’s attention is the oft-repeated claim that legalized medical and recreational marijuana would lead to increased teen use. Unfortunately for the prohibitionists, research does not support this claim. Recent data collected on teen use of marijuana in Colorado found an actual decrease in the percentage of teens using marijuana since its legalization. (See story)
Those of us in the legalization movement believe teen use can more effectively controlled by the legal, regulated market place with alcohol control laws serving as a model. Think about it. Who currently controls hours of sale for marijuana? Who determines potency of marijuana? Have you ever heard of a drug dealer refusing to sell to an underage customer?
There are a number of other claims made in Ms. Haag’s article that will be dealt with in future blogs!!