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Dire Costs of Marijuana Legalization Not Yet Fully Realized

Posted on Saturday, June 29, 2024
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by Ben Solis
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One month after the Biden administration initiated the process to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance, Pennsylvania appears poised to legalize recreational use of the drug, while North Carolina is considering legislation to allow medical use. But mounting real-world evidence and expert opinions suggest that lawmakers should be pumping the brakes rather than the gas on the proliferation of pot in American communities.

In May, Biden’s Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it was seeking to move marijuana from a Schedule I substance, alongside drugs like heroin and LSD, to a Schedule III substance, the same category as drugs like ketamine and some anabolic steroids. Although the new rule won’t be official until the White House reviews the proposal and the 60-day comment period closes later this summer, the downgrade appears imminent.

In announcing the decision, President Biden said it was “an important move towards reversing longstanding inequities.”

But Professor Marcus Cabiallavetta, a retired Swiss brain surgeon who participated in anti-narcotic campaigns in Switzerland in the late 1980s, told me that the decision would instead likely prove to be a disaster for the American people. “This psychoactive substance carries a high risk of leading to a craving for heroin and more potent chemicals,” he said, backing up longstanding fears that marijuana is a gateway drug.

Long-term use of weed, Cabiallavetta said, is likely to result in “altered brain structure and impaired brain circuits, prolonged inability to make judgments and decisions, reduced motor coordination, and disrupted mood flow leading to paranoia and psychosis.” At the very least, he continued, “this substance lowers the ability to drive safely, to be attentive at school, and, of course, impacts work quality.”

“While an organism typically metabolizes and eliminates alcohol after consuming a moderate amount, the toxins produced by cannabis use accumulate, resulting in long-lasting alterations to the organism’s everyday functions,” explained Professor Cabiallavetta. Using this psychoactive substance, he said, could limit the intellectual ability of some people, leading to dependence on the healthcare system and premature aging.

“We saw it in the past here,” he said, referring to the 1970’s and 1980’s when Switzerland had the world’s highest illnesses rate per capita related to drug addiction, including a proliferation of HIV. “It sounds to me like somebody desires to ruin [America], especially young people,” he warned.

The Council on Addictions at the American Psychiatric Association has also stated that “younger age of cannabis use is associated with an earlier onset of psychosis among those at risk.” A Wall Street Journal report out earlier this year additionally found a dramatic spike in psychosis among teens who were frequent marijuana users.

Professor Bertha Madras, a prominent scholar at Harvard Medical School, called the Biden administration’s decision “a colossal mistake.” In a 2015 report commissioned by the World Health Organization, Madras highlighted that safe and effective dose ranges for medical uses were “unknown” and pointed out that “efficacy criteria lacked rigorous research.” She also noted that safety studies on the drug were short and inadequate and that “there is no consensus by the qualified experts that marijuana is medicine.”

Nonetheless, marijuana use, especially among young people, continues to rise. A 2022 study sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that 43.6 percent of polled Americans aged 19-30 had used marijuana in the previous year.

This figure represents approximately half the percentage of individuals who consumed alcohol and more than two and a half times the percentage who smoked cigarettes. Unsurprisingly, Americans spend nearly $100 billion annually on both legal and illegal cannabis.

According to a 2023 report from New Frontier Data, a prominent market research firm based in Washington, D.C., about 15 percent of all adult Americans are considered potential cannabis consumers. According to the firm’s polling, 25 percent of respondents who are not currently marijuana users said they would be open to trying it in the future, especially for medical use.

That could mean a major addiction crisis for the United States is not far away. In a 2022 study, Professor Jonathan P. Caulkins examined daily and near-daily users of marijuana and alcohol from 1992 to 2022. In that time span, the per capita rate of marijuana use already increased 15-fold, without any action from the federal government.

Dr. Otto von Muhlfeld, a former police psychologist who advised German Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmerman on counter-narcotic policies in the mid-1980s, also told me that he could “not recall an addict who did not tell me they started with marijuana.”

“You will see that people addicted to cannabis use it more frequently than alcohol addicts drink. This is because the craving for cannabis is stronger and the side effects are not as obvious,” Professor Cabiallavetta added.

Dr. von Muhlfeld also noted that in other countries around the world, liberal drug laws have already led to disastrous results. In Thailand, for instance, one of the world’s leading suppliers of illicit drugs, the health ministry has found that marijuana use by children and youth contributed to decreasing their intelligence and led forty percent of users to heroin addiction. Moreover, healthcare costs for marijuana users have increased exponentially.

Nonetheless, Biden and state-level Democrats – along with a growing number of Republicans – appear determined to continue toward full marijuana legalization. It may well be a budding crisis for the country.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.

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Stratton
Stratton
14 days ago

I would also hide behind a pen name if I wrote this dumb article. No links to actual research, just to say so of this guy who compares marijuana to alcohol, a drug with widely documented far greater health and social consequences.

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
14 days ago

Prohibition and Reefer Madness are only pushed and believed by a very small, lunatic-fringe minority of irrational mental midgets on a never ending little personal moral-crusade and witch-hunt against relatively benign cannabis and it’s consumers. The rest of us sane, rational, normal Americans just laugh our butts off at and mock utterly desperate lying prohibitionists and their rediculious Reefer-Madness-Rhetoric as the comedy show they truly are!

Gregory Grimes
Gregory Grimes
12 days ago

For once, I believe AMAC has lost touch with their base. Most of us had contact with Marijuana in the 70’s or 80’s and do not believe your gateway drug theory. Many of us had friends whose lives and careers were ruined due to possession of marijuana when in ALL of our opinions alcohol is much more dangerous and yet legal. You may want to rethink your position on this immediately before your members start taking a closer look under the hood. Feel free to damn heroin and crack from the rooftops. We don’t care. Many of us look back fondly on Mary Jane. We are conservative not ignorant. Irritate us on some topics at your peril

Tracey Culbertson
Tracey Culbertson
12 days ago

Not a single shred of real medical evidence exists to prove that Marijuana is a gateway drug. It’s actually used extensively to get people off of more addictive and harmful pain medications that actually do cause overdoses and kill thousands of people in the US every year. It’s also more effective at treating veterans with PTSD than any pharmaceutical psychotropic drug ever made. There isn’t a shred of evidence that shows that there has ever been a psychotic episode in a patient triggered by any cannabis product unless it was the pharmaceutical companies sad attempt at copying the natural grown herb. As with everything else synthetic it a far cry from the real plant put here by God for our meat and medicine. Marijuana was the only thing my husband could take that actually stopped his seizures without being addictive. This article is way beneath the caliber I would have expected from AMAC. Do yourselves a favor and try doing some real research without the fear mongering in your article and stay out of my medicine cabinet if you’re not willing to do that. Thanks

Bob
Bob
13 days ago

I am 58 years old and have been using cannabis since I wass14i have never experienced any of the side effects stated in this article I now use it for a good nights sleep, I still work full time and most people think I am 10 to 12 years younger than I really am so I call BS to that doctor they don’t know everything he is saying what he thinks without study

Will
Will
14 days ago

article is a joke, I will be writing the prohibitionists including medical detailed and quoted within. Legalization is not stopping and is NOT going away. That is all, and that is FINAL.

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
14 days ago

What we certainly don’t need are anymore people who feel justified in appointing themselves to be self-deputized morality police.

We are very capable of choosing for ourselves if we want to consume cannabis, a far less dangerous choice over alcohol, and we definitely don’t need anyone dictating how we should live our own lives.

We can’t just lock up everyone who does things prohibitionists don’t personally approve of.

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
14 days ago

Legalize federally now. What’s legal to possess and consume in over half of the populated areas of The United States should not make you a criminal in states still being governed by woefully ignorant prohibitionist politicians.

Cannabis consumers in all states deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

Plain and simple!

Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
14 days ago

The “War on Cannabis” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Cannabis”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. Especially now, due to Covid-19. It’s a no brainer.

The Prohibition of Cannabis has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

Cannabis is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less cannabis “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide Federally Now! Support Each and Every Cannabis Legalization Initiative!

Johnathan Harrison
Johnathan Harrison
13 days ago

“Call out the instigators, because there’s something in the air! We got to get together sooner or later, because the revolution’s here and you know that it’s right. We have got to get it together, we have got to get it together now!” – Thunderclap Newman
I am seventy six years old and a retired physician who was a young man in the 1960’s. I met my wife at Woodstock, I was what you might call a “hippie” and my wife, a “flower child”. I’ve smoked the kind herb every single day since college and so has my amazing wife. We have both outlived and are in better health both mentally and physically than most of our friends and relatives. It never ceases to amaze me how low these pathetic moralists will stoop in order to intentionally lie and fear monger the public over this wonderful, amazing cannabis plant. How may lives have been ruined by criminalizing our brothers and sisters over using cannabis? Moralists are hell bent on trying to control others and make then conform to their own personal sense of morality. There is a reason this country was founded on the premise of a very clear separation between church and state. So religious fanatics can’t make laws that criminalize everything that they do not morally approve of. These days between criminalizing pot and criminalize a woman’s right to an abortion, it’s time to call out these crazy prohibitionists for what they are: Nimby’s and Karen’s trying to force everyone else to live the way they approve of. That isn’t freedom nor what American is supposed to be about. Don’t approve of pot use, then don’t use it. Don’t approve of abortions? Then don’t have one and let every other adult make their own personal choices without fear of constant criminalization.

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
14 days ago

Fear of Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Cannabis Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of cannabis legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.

The prohibition of cannabis has not decreased the supply nor the demand for cannabis at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize cannabis when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Cannabis Laws.

Jim Flint
Jim Flint
13 days ago

Reefer madness talk is so very dumb and unbelievable. Regular folks laugh at prohibitionists and their very dumb reefer madness talk. We consider it pure hilarious comedy/entertainment. It convinces nobody! Face it idiots :You can’t reefer madness talk your way back into the strict prohibition of cannabis in 2024. Nobody is buying your BS!

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
14 days ago

There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize cannabis nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

The prohibitionist view on cannabis is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of cannabis prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a cannabis prohibitionist to do?

Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide!…and Support All Cannabis Legalization Efforts!

Jeremy I
Jeremy I
14 days ago

Both alcohol and marijuana are not good for you in my opinion, but I’m not a fan of banning them. There’s far more important things that the government should be doing such as keeping our cities safe and using our hard earned taxpayer dollars wisely.

Michelle Finn
Michelle Finn
10 days ago

Pretty silly article. This is the good old fear mongering used in the 60s and 70s. Ive been a recreational user for over half a century. I’ll put my health up against any juicer my age and even younger. The only destructive drug I’ve been led to is alcohol. I’m just fortunate enough to be close to a legal border state, but I’d prefer my tax dollars went to my home state. Unfortunately, PA wants to only allow “state” stores to sell it. It’ll be a truly bureaucratic mess and I’ll probably continue to frequent my neighbor state where private business is providing quality products efficiently.

Spare Us The BS!
Spare Us The BS!
11 days ago

Reefer madness is strictly for low I.Q. retarded clowns who won;t admit publicly that the only real issue they have with relatively benign cannabis legalization is a little irrational personal moral dilemma with allowing other adults to legally choose for themselves it they wish to enjoy cannabis. Mind your own business! Don’t approve of cannabis use, then don’t use it. Problem solved. Stop desperately intentionally lying to the public, fear mongering and fabricating non-exist rediculious fabricated “issues” in order to conceal that the only real issue you have with it is an irrational personal moral issue. Ya’ll aren’t scaring, convincing nor fooling anyone. We all laugh at you! Dumb reefer madness only builds even more support for the common sense approach of full federal legalization across the entire U.S.A!

hgk
hgk
13 days ago

Grass

ReginaRLE
ReginaRLE
11 days ago

It’s not just brain damage from smoking pot. I have a friend who has lung cancer. He never smoked cigarettes, just pot. They should do a study on that.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
14 days ago

There is something warped, fundamentally wrong with the idea that a drug should be used for recreation. It would be far better to encourage activities that benefit health, increase learning abilities, have something to do with good citizenship, or just favor relaxation as a way to engage in recreation. There is much to do in developing an understanding of how things are designed and made, for example, tools, machinery, clothing , vehicles , microscopes, equipment used in medicine , in understanding the basics of biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, making useful things with materials available — which is what being resourceful is all about. Good article Ben. It may have a positive influence on how people who value self respect look at what is meaningful. In the spirit of Faith, Family and Freedom.

Gallagher
Gallagher
13 days ago

Also keep in mind it can be laced with Fentanyl.

Ash
Ash
13 days ago

Legalizing pot has had some disastrous consequences so far in the U.S. The potency levels have gotten so high that smoking some of today’s pot is comparable to doing hard drugs of the past. It’s not your harmless little weed anymore.

Letts Brandon
Letts Brandon
14 days ago

The description of long term use and Joe Biden seem identical “impaired brain circuits, prolonged inability to make judgments and decisions, reduced motor coordination, and disrupted mood flow leading to paranoia and psychosis”.

anna hubert
anna hubert
14 days ago

Government sponsored genocide Where is the International court in Hague that would not shut up about Milosevic

Bob
Bob
14 days ago

Genie is out of the bottle, enjoy the mess. Check with Oklahoma on the criminal activity it has brought. OK has a lot of good people.

Mark Liechten Jr., M.D.
Mark Liechten Jr., M.D.
13 days ago

A PLEA TO AMAC:
Amac, many members do not agree with slurs written by someone who introduces himself as Brian Kelly.

I am a medical doctor, and I agree with this article. Yes, I saw young people ruined by drugs in our country. I am sure Mr. Kelly pressed the dislike button and sent my comment to the bottom, as he did with other people who published their comments.

He is either gangster or some cyber-criminal. It is hard to block such influences.

However, we can at least strive for a forum that promotes healthy and respectful discussions. This is why I urge the removal of Mr. Kelly’s propaganda on this commentary page. Most of us are here to engage with sane and respectful Americans, and Mr. Kelly’s behavior is an exception.

Mr. Kelly is exploiting this page’s technological weakness, allowing him to pose as different readers and like his own posts. Amac should be aware of this glitch because otherwise, the sane voices will always be on the bottom. Thank you.
Sincerely. Mark

Forgotten Man
Forgotten Man
13 days ago

It looks to me to be yet another path to early disability that those people who are productive will be supporting. When there are no consequences for choices, there are more poor choices made.

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