Why Shouldn`t We Legalize Marijuanas
“I think crime would be lower if they legalized marijuana. That would bankrupt drug traffickers. Female, 62 Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Despite this, an estimated 18 million people were currently using marijuana in 2011. As of June 2014, 23 U.S. states had legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes in response to growing awareness that the drug`s active ingredient can be useful as an analgesic for chronic pain, as an antiemetic and antispasmodic. Two states, Washington and Colorado, had also legalized recreational use. But think about the benefits to society, say pot proponents. Legalizing marijuana would reduce drug-related crime, they say. But as states legalize marijuana, local demand will increase. Meanwhile, some reputable producers, manufacturers and retailers will refuse to manufacture or distribute the drug because of current federal laws and tort liability that take care of such a dangerous product. The vacuum is filled by illegal drug cartels and a black or grey market.
Cerdá was very clear: she does not see her study as an argument against legalization. She sees it more as a contribution to the discussion on how to legalize. The legalization of marijuana, which is used for both medical and recreational purposes, is up to each state to decide whether to decriminalize it or notMJBizDaily reports: “California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Since then, the medical use of cannabis has been legalized in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Recreational or adult cannabis use is also common in D.C. and 19 legal states. There is clear public support for the failed change in our anti-marijuana policy.  More than half of U.S. states legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and 40 states took steps between 2009 and 2013 to relax their drug laws (e.g., decriminalize or reduce penalties for possession).  Marijuana use among adolescents has increased. Data that have tracked adolescent risk perception and marijuana use for decades clearly show an inverse relationship; As the perception of risk among adolescents decreases, marijuana use increases.61 As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, the perception of risk is expected to decrease, leading to a continued increase in the prevalence of use among adolescents.
This is one of the most worrisome issues associated with drug legalization, as many of marijuana`s negative effects — including cognitive impairment and the risk of short- and long-term psychosis — are increased when used during adolescence. Cerdá, who is also an expert on drug policy at New York University, cautioned that the findings should not be understood to mean that legalization is a bad idea, but that the way the country legalizes should better account for more problematic use and addiction and try to prevent them. No state is likely to be allowed to legalize marijuana itself because of the negative spillover between states. Yet even if a state could do it, legalizing marijuana would serve no purpose other than exacerbate the drug problem. “Legalization campaigns that involve marijuana as a benign substance pose a significant challenge to educating the public about its known risks and side effects,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said.  ASAM “does not support the legalization of marijuana and recommends that jurisdictions that have not acted to legalize marijuana be extremely cautious and not pursue legalization policies until more can be learned.”  WADA “believes that (1) cannabis is a dangerous drug and, as such, poses a public health concern; (2) The sale of cannabis should not be legalized.  To this end, the study could help us learn about how to legalize, not whether we should legalize – making it relevant not only to those who oppose legalization, but also to those who wish to legalize. In recent years, attitudes toward marijuana have changed culturally. At the time of writing, medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia; Recreational marijuana is now legal in Washington and Colorado. A large and growing body of literature indicates that the legalization of marijuana can have negative effects on individual and public health.
“We can start thinking about ways to legalize that prevent these unintended consequences, just as we would regulate tobacco and alcohol,” Cerdá said. In The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Marijuana, Alcohol, and Hard Drug Use (NBER Working Paper No. 20085), Hefei Wen, Jason M. Hockenberry, and Janet R. Cummings use individual survey data from seven states to examine the effects of legalizing medical marijuana. They found that legalization increased both marijuana use and marijuana abuse/dependence among people 21 and older. It was also associated with an increase in binge drinking among adults, defined as the number of days a person had five or more drinks on the same occasion in the previous month. People between the ages of 12 and 20 were 5 to 6 percent more likely to try marijuana for the first time when medical use was legalized. Legalization was not associated with an increase in adolescent alcohol use or an increase in cocaine or heroin use in either group.
Right now, most states that have legalized have adopted a model that allows for-profit companies to produce, sell, and market the drug, much like alcohol. But these companies have a perverse incentive – because the most lucrative customers for them are those who use (and buy) a lot of pot, even when it comes to feeding an addiction. Marijuana and THC remain illegal at the federal level, although many states have legalized their use. In states where it is legal, marijuana is a fast-growing industry with sales to people over the age of 21 in retail stores, wineries, breweries, coffee shops, pharmacies, online and at home. Data are also based on self-reports of marijuana use. This could lead to differences between legalization and non-legalization states, as people feel more comfortable admitting marijuana use — especially frequent marijuana use — once a state has legalized. Goldin cautioned, however, that differences between age groups militate against this possibility: “It would be difficult to argue that this group [of adults aged 26 and older] is more likely to report increased use after legalization than other age groups (compared to before legalization).” The percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds who use marijuana is higher than the national average in all states where marijuana is legal. For example, 16.21 percent of Colorado teens and 18.86 percent of Alaska teens reported using marijuana in the past year, compared to an average of 12.29 percent for the entire U.S. in 2015-2016.  Marijuana use by Colorado teens increased by an average of 20% over two years after adult-use marijuana was legalized.  Road fatalities decreased by an average of 11% in states that legalized medical marijuana.
 The number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol decreased in Washington and Colorado.  Benjamin Hansen, an economics professor at the University of Oregon at Eugene who has studied fatal motor vehicle crashes following the legalization of medical marijuana, stated that “public safety does not diminish as access to marijuana increases, but improves.”  People who buy marijuana on the street have no way of knowing if what they are ingesting is covered in mould, fungi, pesticides or other harmful substances.   Once marijuana is legalized, the government is able to apply laboratory tests and regulations to ensure that marijuana is free of toxins.  For example, Washington`s law requires health warnings, quality assurance, labeling of THC concentration, and other regulations important to consumers.  The new poll also notes that since some states have legalized marijuana — contradicting the federal prohibition on marijuana — a majority of Americans (59%) say the federal government should not enforce laws in states that allow marijuana use; 37% say they should enforce these laws. Views on the federal enforcement of the marijuana law have remained unchanged since the issue was first raised two years ago. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine found that “rates of marijuana use by youth are declining as more U.S. states legalize or decriminalize marijuana use and the number of adults using the drug has increased.”  Marijuana use among Grade 8 students The class in Washington state fell from 9.8 percent after legalization in 2012 to 7.3 percent in 2014/2016, according to a December 2018 RAND report.  A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that marijuana use among U.S. children ages 12 to 17 dropped 17 percent last year, from 15.8 percent in 2002 to 13.1 percent in 2014.
  Teens ages 12 to 17 in Colorado reported a nearly 12 percent drop in marijuana use just two years after adulthood legalization, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.   “As states legalize marijuana, we need to measure the impact on public health,” Cerdá said. “It`s a responsible way to legalize.” So it`s possible — and I would probably say — that legalizing marijuana in general is a better approach than criminal prohibition, but there are better ways to legalize it than states are doing in general right now. U.S. Border Patrol data shows marijuana seizures have declined by millions of pounds and are at their lowest level in more than a decade, suggesting that legal domestic production is reducing demand for marijuana smuggled out of Mexico.