1. Marijuana legalization will usher in America’s new version of “Big Tobacco.”
- Already, private holding groups and financiers have raised millions of start-up dollars to promote businesses that will sell marijuana and marijuana-related merchandise.
- Marijuana food and candy, with names such as “Ring Pots” and “Pot Tarts,” are being marketed to children and are already responsible for a growing number of marijuana-related ER visits. [i]
- Marijuana vending machines, containing products such as marijuana brownies and candies, are popping up across the country. [ii]
- The former head of Strategy for Microsoft has said that he wants to “mint more millionaires than Microsoft” with marijuana and that he wants to create the “Starbucks of marijuana.” [iii]
2. Marijuana use will increase under legalization
- Because they are accessible and available, our legal drugs are used far more than our illegal ones. According to recent surveys, alcohol is used by 52% of Americans and tobacco is used by 27% of Americans. Marijuana is used by 8% of Americans. [iv]
- When RAND researchers analyzed California’s 2010 effort to legalize marijuana, they concluded that the price of the drug could plummet and therefore, marijuana consumption could increase. [v]
3. Marijuana is especially harmful to kids and adolescents.
- Marijuana contributes to psychosis and schizophrenia. [vi]
- 1 in 6 kids who try marijuana will become addicted to it. [vii]
- Heavy marijuana use in adolescence leads to an average IQ loss of 8 points later in life. [viii]
- According to data from the 2012 National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse, alcohol and cigarettes were the most readily accessible substances for youth 12 to 17, with 50% and 44% reporting that they could obtain them within a day, respectively. Youth were least likely to report that they could get marijuana within a day; 45% reported that they would be unable to get marijuana at all. [ix]
4. Today’s marijuana is NOT your Woodstock weed.
- In the 1960s and ‘70s, THC levels of smoked marijuana averaged around 1%, increasing to just under 4% in 1983, and almost tripling in the subsequent 30 years to around 11% in 2011. Some marijuana concentrates today contain 95% THC. [x]
5. Marijuana legalization will increase public costs.
- For every $1 we collect in alcohol and tobacco tax revenues, we lose $10 in social costs. [xi]
- Current alcohol-related arrest rates are over three times higher than marijuana arrest rates.[xiii]
6. People are not in prison for small time marijuana use.
- Statistics on state-level prisoners reveal that 0.3% of all state inmates were behind bars for marijuana possession only (with many of them pleading down from more serious crimes). [xiv]
- 99.8% of federal prisoners sentenced for drug offenses were incarcerated for drug trafficking. [xv]
- The risk of arrest for each joint smoked is 1 in 12,000. [xvi]
7. Drug cartels and the black market will continue to thrive under legalization.
- A recent RAND report showed that Mexican drug trafficking groups earn only 15-25% of their revenues from marijuana. For them, the big money is in human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, piracy, and other illicit drugs. [xvii]
- Under legalization, a black market will still sell tax-free marijuana to adults and youth.
8. Neither Portugal nor Holland provide any successful example of legalization.
- Independent research reveals that in the Netherlands, where marijuana was commercialized and sold openly at “coffee shops,” marijuana use among young adults increased almost 300%. [xviii]
- There are signs that tolerance for marijuana in the Netherlands is receding. They have recently closed hundreds of coffee shops.
- Today Dutch citizens have a higher likelihood of being admitted to marijuana treatment than citizens of nearly all other countries in Europe. [xix]
- In Portugal, drug use levels are mixed, and despite reports to the contrary, they have not legalized drugs. In 2001, Portugal started to refer drug users to three-person “panels of social workers” that recommend treatment or another course of action. As the European Monitoring Center’s findings concluded: “the country does not show specific developments in its drug situation that would clearly distinguish it from other European countries that have a different policy.” [xx]
9. Marijuana has medicinal properties, but we shouldn’t smoke the plant in order to derive those benefits, just like we do not smoke opium to get the benefits of morphine.
- In states with medical marijuana laws, the average medical marijuana user is a male in his 30’s with no terminal illness and a history of drug abuse. [xxi]
- Less than 3% of users have cancer or AIDS. [xxii]
- Residents of states with medical marijuana laws have abuse and dependence rates almost twice as high as states with no such laws. [xxiii]
- Research should be conducted to produce pharmacy-attainable, non-smoked medications based on marijuana.
10. Experience from Colorado is not promising.
- Two independent reports released in August 2013 document how Colorado’s supposedly regulated system is not well regulated at all. [xxiv]
- Currently, the marijuana use rate among Colorado teens is 50% above the national average. Marijuana has been widely available in stores since 2009 (to Coloradans 18+ with a medical card). [xxv]
- Since 2009, drug-related referrals for high school students testing positive for marijuana has increased. [xxvi]
- Medical marijuana is easily diverted to youth.[xxvii]
- While the total number of car crashes declined from 2007 to 2011, the number of fatal car crashes with drivers testing positive for marijuana rose sharply.[xxviii]
Most major medical associations oppose
marijuana use and legalization.
American Medical Association Statement and Press Release Opposing Marijuana Legalization and Opposing Crude Marijuana as Medicine.
Sample Testimony from the current President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine
[i] Alface, I. (2013, May 27). Children Poisoned by Candy-looking Marijuana Products. Nature World News. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/; Jaslow, R. (2013, 28 May). Laxer marijuana laws linked to increase in kids’ accidental poisonings CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57586408/laxer-marijuana-laws-linked-to-increase-in-kids-accidental-poisonings/
[ii] Gruley, B. (2013, May 9). Medbox: Dawn of the Marijuana Vending Machine. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-09/medbox-dawn-of-the-marijuana-vending-machine
[iii] Ex-Microsoft exec plans ‘Starbucks’ of marijuana. (2013, May 31). United Press International. Retrieved from http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2013/05/31/VIDEO-Ex-Microsoft-exec-plans-Starbucks-of-marijuana/UPI-41161369985400/
[iv] NSDUH, Summary of National Findings, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.pdf
[v] Kilmer, B., Caulkins, J.P., Pacula, R.L., MacCoun, R.J., & Reuter, P.H. Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010. http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP315
[vi] Andréasson S, et al. (1987). Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish conscripts. Lancet, 2(8574).
[vii] Anthony, J.C., Warner, L.A., & Kessler, R.C. (1994). Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experiential and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2.
[viii] Meier, M.H. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
[ix] Adapted by CESAR from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.casacolumbia.org/upload/2012/20120822teensurvey.pdf
[x] Mehmedic, Z., et al. (2010). Potency Trends of D9-THC and Other Cannabinoids in Confiscated Cannabis Preparations from 1993 to 2008. The Journal of Forensic Sciences, 55(5).
[xi] Updating estimates of the economic costs of alcohol abuse in the United States: Estimates, update methods, and data. Report prepared for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/economic-2000/; Urban Institute and Brookings Institution (2012, October 15). State and local alcoholic beverage tax revenue, selected years 1977-2010. Tax Policy Center. Retrieved from http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/ displayafact.cfm?Docid=399; Saul, S. (2008, August 30). Government gets hooked on tobacco tax billions. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/weekinreview/31saul. html?em&_r=0; for Federal estimates, see Urban Institute and Brookings Institution (2012, October 15). State and local tobacco tax revenue, selected years 1977-2010. Tax Policy Center. Retrieved from http://www. taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=403; Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (n.d.). Toll of tobacco in the United States of America. Retrieved from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsh
[xii] Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2004). Data collection: Survey of inmates in state correctional facilities (SISCF). Retrieved from http:// www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=275
[xiii] Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2011). Persons arrested. Retrieved from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/persons-arrested.
[xiv] Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2004). Data collection: Survey of inmates in state correctional facilities (SISCF). Retrieved from http:// www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=275
[xvi] Kilmer, B., et al. “Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets”. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010. http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP315
[xvii] Kilmer, B, Caulkins, J.P, Bond, B.M. & Reuter, P.H. “Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico: Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?” Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010. http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP325.
[xviii] MacCoun, R. & Reuter, P. (2001). Evaluating Alternate Cannabis Regimes. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 178.
[xix] MacCoun, R. (2010). What can we learn from the Dutch Cannabis Coffeeshop experience? RAND Drug Policy Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/working_papers/2010/RAND_WR768.pdf
[xx] European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug and Addiction. (2011). Drug Policy Profiles-Portugal. Retrieved from http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/drug-‐policyprofiles/portugal
[xxi] O’Connell, T.J. & Bou-Matar, C.B. (2007). Long term marijuana users seeking medical cannabis in California (2001–2007): demographics, social characteristics, patterns of cannabis and other drug use of 4117 applicants. Harm Reduction Journal, 4(16).
[xxii] Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2011)
[xxiii] Cerda, M., et al. (2012). Medical marijuana laws in 50 states: Investigating the relationship between state legalization of medical marijuana and marijuana use, abuse and dependence. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 120(1-3).
[xxiv] Colorado Office of the State Auditor. (2013). & City of Denver Office of the Auditor. (2013).
[xxv] NSDUH, Summary of National Findings, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.pdf
[xxvi] Rocky Mountain HIDTA. (2013). Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact. Retrieved from http://www.rmhidta.org/html/FINAL%20Legalization%20of%20MJ%20in%20Colorado%20The%20Impact.pdf
[xxvii] Salomonsen-Sautel, S., et al. (2012). Medical marijuana use among adolescents in substance abuse treatment. Journal of American Academic Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(7).
[xxviii] Rocky Mountain HIDTA. (2013). Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact. Retrieved from http://www.rmhidta.org/html/FINAL%20Legalization%20of%20MJ%20in%20Colorado%20The%20Impact.pdf