‘Weed’ beg to differ

Legalizing marijuana introduces dangers to society


Art by Jane Lee

Let’s establish some givens: is it safer to use marijuana than to refrain from it? No. Have the economic benefits of legalization met expectations? No. Has the black market for marijuana been eliminated after legalization? No. Will legalization eliminate injustices in the court system? No. These facts underscore why legalization is undesirable.

Science does not support that marijuana is “safe.” In an article from NPR, Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights the effects of high THC marijuana. Beyond the negative impact on the lungs of inhaling smoke or aerosol, effects include psychosis, severe constriction of blood vessels, and cannabinoid hyperemesis (intense stomach pain and vomiting). A University of Colorado study notes that marijuana consumption is linked to heart issues, long-lasting psychiatric symptoms, violence, accidental deaths and suicides. The study notes that there were 10,000 marijuana related ER visits in Colorado between 2012 and 2016, a 300 percent increase. 

Additionally, income and tax revenue from marijuana sales have fallen short of what proponents of legalization had hoped for. The Economist reports sales of marijuana in California dropped by $500 million from 2017 to 2018. They observe that many have returned to the black market due to the high price of legal marijuana. Not only does this deprive states of tax revenue, it fails to eliminate the health risks of black market products or the dangers of the illegal drugs trade.   

Even cities in the Netherlands–known for permissive attitudes towards drug use– have taken steps recently to stop the undesirable effects of “narco-tourism.” Many coffee shops and dispensaries have banned non-Dutch residents to address the disturbances and unlawful conduct of marijuana-seeking visitors.      

Proponents of legalization point to the injustices of imprisoning drug users. Legalizing detrimental behavior is not the solution; reducing incarceration and helping drug users is. Lately, there has been an emphasis on “drug courts” in the United States, which offer substance abuse treatment as an alternative to imprisonment. 

Safe, healthy and productive individuals create safe, healthy and productive societies. It is in the interest of all individuals to ban recreational marijuana to achieve this goal.