When politicians come across a new funding source to spend on dumb government programs, they become like rabid animals. For example, in Connecticut, Gov. New Lamont and some Democrats in the state legislature are foaming at the mouth to add tolls in order to “fix roads and bridges.”
Funny, I thought the $1 trillion dollar “stimulus” package back in 2009 was supposed to do that.
Recently, recreational marijuana has become the cash cow in states across the country that politicians have touted to increase their coffers. But at what expense?
In November of 2018, Michigan became the tenth state that legalized recreational pot. Other states such as New Jersey may soon follow. More than 200 million people currently live in states that have legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss the pros and cons of marijuana vs. alcohol.
Advocates for the legalization of pot argue that marijuana is “safer” than alcohol and that more people are killed due to alcohol than marijuana. They argue that the fact that marijuana (and other drugs for that matter) is illegal increases crime because people commit crime in order to obtain and distribute illegal drugs.
They compare the current illegality on drugs to prohibition early in the 20th Century, where alcohol was illegal, and which led to the “gangster wars” in cities like Chicago.
“If we legalize marijuana, we’ll reduce violent crime,” they say.
Along with the legalization of marijuana across the country and the increased acceptance of it, psychiatrists and epidemiologists now believe that marijuana presents more serious risks than is commonly realized.
First, it has to be said that despite predictions to the contrary, legalization has not led to a substantial increase in casual use of pot. According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health commissioned by the federal government, 15 percent of Americans used marijuana at least once in the year 2017, which was an increase from 10 percent in 2016, which is still a pretty significant one-year increase.
According to the same study, 70 percent of Americans had an alcoholic drink in the same period.
With that said, the number of Americans who heavily used marijuana has exponentially escalated. While in 2006 approximately 3 million Americans said they used the drug at least 300 times a year, which is the standard for daily use.
Just over 10 years later that number had increased to 8 million—which is quickly approaching the 12 million Americans who had an alcoholic drink every day. In other words, only one in 15 drinkers consumed alcohol daily, while one in five marijuana users used cannabis at the same rate.
The increase in recreational marijuana use has also translated into an increase of motor vehicle accidents in states where marijuana is legal.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the frequency of claims for car accidents which were filed to insurance companies were higher in states where marijuana is legal, specifically Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
According to the study, crashes were up as much as 6 percent in those states when compared to states that had not yet legalized recreational marijuana. The analysis was based on collision loss data from January 2012 through October 2017. The analysis also considered driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.
It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The problem comes into play because there is no consistency, which relates the amount of marijuana present in a person’s body to impairment.
While law enforcement authorities are able to accurately test the amount of alcohol content in a person’s blood, or BAC, the same is not available for THC. A positive test for THC in an operator’s system does not translate to impairment. In addition, habitual marijuana users can maintain THC in their system for days or weeks after using the drug, so trying to determine impairment at the time of an accident is not possible.
Still, IIHS president David Harkey says, “States exploring legalizing marijuana should consider this effect on highway safety.” He continued, “Despite the difficulty of isolating the specific effects of marijuana impairment on crash risk, the evidence is growing that legalizing its use increases crashes.”
The other is sue is that the amount of THC in the current “crop” of marijuana has increased exponentially. While in the 70’s most marijuana contained less than 2 percent THC, today’s marijuana routinely contains 20-25 percent THC. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects.
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The increase in potency of pot has been based on the demand of users to get a stronger high more quickly. In fact, in states where cannabis is legal, many users prefer extracts that are nearly pure THC.
Marijuana advocates dispute studies that suggest marijuana is neurotoxic because other countries where pot is legal have not seen an increase in psychosis to match rising marijuana use. The difference, however, is that the tracking of such cases is not currently being done in the United States. While the United States government closely tracks diseases such as cancer with central registries, no such system exists for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
- READ: MEDIA FREAKS OUT OVER TRUMP’S “UNAUTHORIZED” AIRSTRIKE. TURNS OUT OBAMA DID IT THOUSANDS OF TIMES.
With that said, studies conducted in Finland and Denmark, where marijuana is illegal, and which do track mental illness, show a significant increase in psychosis since 2000, when cannabis use increased in those countries. Likewise, in the U.S., an extensive survey conducted in 2017 found 7.5 percent of young adults met the criteria for mental illness, double the rate of just ten years earlier.
While these studies don’t prove that increased use of cannabis across the board has caused a population-wide increase in mental illness, there is some evidence of a link. However, in individual cases, marijuana can cause psychosis and psychosis puts people at high risk for violence, with much of that violence occurring when people are using those drugs.
While some advocates such as Cory (Spartacus) Booker claim that legalization of pot has decreased violent crime, they are wrong. In the first four states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, they had about 450 murders and 30,300 aggravated assaults in 2013. Four years later, they had almost 620 murders and 38,000 aggravated assaults—an increase that is far greater than the national average.
According to the study cited for this article, people across the world have known for centuries that cannabis causes mental illness and violence—just as they have known that opiates cause addiction and overdose. There is hard data on the relationship between “marijuana and madness” going back 150 years, to British asylum registers in India.
We have recently seen the results of encouraging wider use of opiates, which occurred about 20 years ago. The same move was made back then to encourage wider use of cannabis. We have seen all too clearly what happens when you take things down to the lowest common denominator. Opiates are obviously riskier than cannabis, and over the past year or two, overdose deaths have made that issue an imminent crisis, so our public and government attention has focused on that.
Look, clearly people operating vehicles under the influence of anything, be it alcohol or marijuana is a bad thing. Obviously, we have seen time and time again where people under the influence of alcohol have committed violent crimes because of their intoxication and inability to make rational decisions. The legalize drugs crowd points to the ugly side of alcohol as justification to legalize pot and other drugs.
The bottom line is, why on Earth would you put more options out there for people to get legally impaired? It honestly makes ZERO sense. “Well it’s legal to purchase alcohol so it should be legal to purchase marijuana.” The problem is, where does it stop? Legalize pot today, legalize cocaine tomorrow. We already have a crisis in this country with opioids. Why would we want to add to that problem?
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