Government Watch / Politics

Reevaluating Blue States’ Risky Experiment with Marijuana Legalization

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott


Friday, a group of Missouri lawmakers announced a renewed push to put statewide marijuana legalization on the 2022 ballot. The measure was led by a Republican lawmaker but represented a growing push in states across the country. The move would have been unprecedented only a decade ago, yet marijuana advocates’ aggressive campaign for its normalization and use has radically shifted the perception of the drug across the country.  

For almost a decade, recreational cannabis has been legal under state law in Colorado and Washington. Since then, sixteen other states have legalized marijuana use, with federal action looking more possible by the day. Yet, while mainstream media outlets have aggressively pushed for the drug’s legalization, few have taken the time to examine its effect on communities and American citizens. It’s not too early to offer a preliminary assessment: after nearly a decade of liberalization of state drug laws, the evidence suggests that the experiment has been something of a social disaster. The benefits of marijuana legalization are nowhere near what was promised, and the risks seem to be far worse.

Since 1970, the federal government has classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, the highest level a drug can have, rendering it effectively illegal for purposes other than research. Activists argued the data that led to this classification was biased, inaccurate, and outdated and that laws banning its sale are therefore unjust, unscientific, and even racist. They point to studies that claim that the drug is neither habit-forming nor addictive. They suggest it may offer medical benefits in certain cases, and even support marketing cannabis products to pregnant women. Furthermore, advocates assert that marijuana “prohibition” was meant to target minorities and that the laws themselves only exist to imprison black Americans who are disproportionately represented in drug-related offenses.

These arguments were largely successful at destigmatizing marijuana use at a time when there existed very little data on the impact of marijuana use. Now, however, after a decade of legalization, scientists and specialists have a much clearer picture of its personal and social effects.

A growing body of evidence suggests that regular cannabis use is far less safe than the pro-legalization campaign led Americans to believe. Defenders continue to insist that marijuana is non-habit forming and “that most people who use cannabis don’t have a problem with it.” However, increasing numbers of smokers do develop Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), also known as uncontrollable cannabis use. In other words, many people are becoming addicted to a substance that has been widely represented to be non-addictive.

In addition, a landmark 2019 study found that the potent strands of marijuana, with high levels of THC, are directly correlated with higher rates of psychotic disorders and schizophrenia. One New Zealand study found that adolescents who smoked marijuana daily were at “seven times higher risk for suicide.”

By almost every metric, regular recreational marijuana users end up with greater financial instability, relationship difficulties, and mental health struggles. One study from the Association for Psychological Science found that regular cannabis users experienced “downward social mobility,” “more financial problems,” “more antisocial behaviors at work, such as stealing money or lying to get a job,” and “more relationship problems.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, 48 different studies all found a clear correlation between regular marijuana use and “reduced educational attainment.” One study also found that regular marijuana users are even worse off than alcohol users when it comes to paying for basic financial needs. As individuals struggle to succeed and prosper, their local communities begin to suffer as well. There are direct correlations between the prevalence of marijuana use in an area and rates of unemployment and homelessness.

To be clear, medical use of marijuana prescribed by a doctor is still an emerging field of study that could yield positive results for some patients. There have been some promising anecdotal results from war veterans suffering from PTSD who have been able to alleviate their symptoms through use of medical marijuana. Some individuals suffering from chronic pain have also found relief through prescribed marijuana use to avoid taking highly addictive painkillers that have ravaged American communities in recent years.

Yet the potential for legitimate medical benefits stemming from greater study of cannabis’s properties does not in any way mean the substance must necessarily be made legal for recreational purposes, or that frequent drug use by tens of millions of Americans should be normalized.

One major reason for concern over legalization for recreational use is that today’s marijuana is far more potent and potentially addictive than the marijuana of decades past. In states that have legalized marijuana, stronger and stronger strands of the drugs have been developed. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the average natural marijuana plant has a THC concentration of 15%. Cannabis dispensaries routinely sell plants with at least 50% THC concentration. Some are even as high as 80% THC concentration. Marijuana legalization has directly encouraged the development of stronger and stronger THC concentrations that have a higher chance of negatively affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans.

These negative effects have a direct impact on local communities. With a greater percentage of individuals withdrawn from society, the very social fabric of American communities begins to strain. In some cities, specifically in California and Washington, marijuana use may be pushing them to the breaking point. Yet, marijuana legalization continues to receive positive coverage from the mainstream media, with few of the downsides that have become evident over the past decade being reported or discussed. As one former New York Times reporter stated in a recent appearance on Fox News, “People who drink all day… we call them alcoholics; they don’t usually talk about it. But people will happily tell you that they smoke all day.” As more states look to legalize marijuana, these concerns will only increase, and Americans should fully understand what research has to say about legalization before heading to the ballot box.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.

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Mr Foster
1 year ago

WOW… It is clear that this is a polarizing subject. I thought the article was clear and concise and to the point.
I believe that the article is alluding to the potential for abuse based upon frequent use, recreationally.
Most of US know there is potential for good and bad in most every thing we encounter.
Try not to kill the messenger, for reporting the statistics. Be vigilant and hear all points of view.
God bless America.

Debbie Reynolds
1 year ago

How much did big PHRma pay you for this article? It’s trash, biased and stupid. While I don’t necessarily support recreational legalization, I do support FREEDOM.
What’s more important, there are hundreds of conditions out there which could be helped by medical marijuana, and THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT (backed by Big PHRma, the largest lobby in the world, bigger than the next 4 combined!) is unconcerned with the suffering and misery of hundreds of thousands who would be helped. Pushing their “synthetic”, “lab-created”, FOUL-tasting and SUPER EXPENSIVE Epidiolex. Which doesn’t work as well, either.
All those deaths and misery, for lack of a fairly harmless plant, and for tons of money in the greedy PHRma pockets. Wake UP, America

David Millikan
1 year ago

More BS lies. Just like when they said in the ‘70’s that Marijuana makes boys boobs grow. Or in the ‘90’s that Marijuana causes brain cancer.
That’s some of the lies I have heard for past 50 years and each year from 1970 to 2021 it’s always some new lie.

1 year ago

1st of all how do you make a plant illegal is illegal? 2nd of all cannabis is not the problem. It is still 10 times safer than alcohol.. It does not need to be legalized for recreational use at this point. However, it does need to be made legal for medicinal use!! Our body has an endocannoyed system that has been depleted thanks to the ignorance behind Their fault narratives just like everything else they do.. Some people should not use it that is a fact. Needless to say the war on cannabis has not worked and there are plenty of us who enjoy using it using it and who also needed for insomnia pain.

1 year ago

The filthy liberal trash and RINO’s want you on marijuana for a reason ! It’s called “control!” If you can’t see that then it is already too late for you!

1 year ago

It’s NOt about drugs! it’s NOt about Marijuana! It’s about liberty and for you to be able to make your own decisions. Do you want to live in a country that is allowed to mandate vaccines? Follow the rule book! We have a Constitutions! It is supposed to be used to keep government out of YOUR life. While you are at it, repeal the unconstitutional apportionment law of 1929 so we can have real representation. As it is we instead have an oligarchy which pretty much does what it wishes.
All you people who say that it is dangerous so there fore it should be illegal, are on the wrong side of Liberty. It has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican. LIBERTY! Freedom to make your own mistakes. That’s where proper education comes in.

1 year ago

Here in Ore…gone, our mentally I’ll state officials have also made it so other drugs are not arresting offences. They want people to just want to get help for their drug problems while in the mean time they abuse their wives or girl/ boyfriends and children and steal cars and commit robberies. Our state officials live in fairy land. Their brains are mush or they are missing their temporal lobes completely. The main thing for me about those who want to smoke pot are the one’s who smoke that detestable ‘Skunk’ weed!! That stuff is so offensive, I just can’t understand how anyone can want to smell like a Skunk! This is how depraved humans can be…to not care that they stink so bad and pollute an area of an entire block with that stench! I’ve voiced my opinion quite loudly in my own rural neighborhood. When my husband and I moved here 3 years ago, it was mostly peaceful and quiet until some younger undesirables moved in around us. Doesn’t help having an apartment unit right across the street from us. If the place were more upscale, might be fine, but the place is a dump. So mostly those who have little education or the desire to contribute in society live there. It can depend on what area in a rural town is considered favorable over living in a big city. The Marxists in our government, even though I’m not a doctor in any sense, are in my opinion certifiably insane. I have learned what ungodliness really looks like. But I also thank God that I’m not aware of how abhorrent human depravity can get. I’ve seen some pretty absurd examples, but I know there is far worse that could drive any normal person over the edge. We need godliness if we are going to remain civilized. That is a rational fact. I don’t want to remain here in this world if things are going to keep going the way they are. I hope Christ comes to spare us that yet unrealized reality.

1 year ago

The leftist are your enemy and need to be destroyed.

Sandra Dorsey
1 year ago

My grandson. Moved to MI and bought legal Marijuana. He had a psychotic break and thought he was a lizard. Not the same.

Sally Duncan
1 year ago

Because the FAR left us in control, I don’t see any control on marijuana in the near future, unfortunately. The “I want” generation is fully in charge until the grownups in the room stand up and say “NO” to this unruley group, who throw two-year-old temper tantrums and continue to get away with it.

1 year ago

It’s for the destruction Of America …
It’s very disheartening to see how this country is going down the sewer. In so many ways.

Mark L
1 year ago

This is garbage News! Marijuana has been used for hundreds of years. If the DemocRATS vote primarily on legalizing marijuana they are more stupid than I ever imagined. Legal or not people will buy and use marijuana as normal DemocRATS are Dumb! DemocRATS have screwed things up so bad that many people don’t care if it’s legal or not anymore!
Now if you people would get to work to reduce the cost of fuel food and everything else that has skyrocketed in price as a direct result of the poor decisions DemocRATS have made so far!

1 year ago

Lol. Fancy that! Marijuana drug abuse leads to “drug abuse” personal and societal problems!
Who ever would have thought?
We did. And we warned fools. But fools just don’t listen. They’re too busy inhaling, using needles, etc.
And turning neighborhoods into trash bins. Pathetic that so few humans think ahead to Results of their policies and behaviors.
When will we start forcing our parties to elect candidates with functional IQs?

Mark L
1 year ago
Reply to  Becky

Five thumbs up!

1 year ago

Cigarettes are banned from most public places and are frowned upon, but it’s ok to smoke grass? I gave up cigarettes 46 yrs ago to try to avoid related health problems. I currently live in a condo building and all the creepy millennials smoke grass and stink up public areas like hallways and even my apartment.

25% of psychiatric illness is caused by marijuana, not to mention it’s a gateway drug.

I always thought medical marijuana was just an excuse to legalize the stuff so the old hippy types can get high without buying on the street.

Charlie Collins
1 year ago
Reply to  Lynn

So much wrong with this comment. First of all pot is not a gateway drug. Alcohol is the gateway drug. 25% of psychiatric illnesses a from pot, I can’t find those numbers anywhere. Stop

1 year ago

I agree that alcohol is a gateway drug, so are the ADHD meds that teachers, parents and doctors are pushing on elementary school children. In my opinion, the pharmaceutical industry is driving the country into the ground. Also, most people who smoke pot, (regular pot, not pot that’s laced with something) are calm, relaxed and certainly not violent, I’m not saying that everyone is like that, just the people that I know of, while a lot of people who take man made pharmaceuticals are killng other people and themselves and causing all kinds of drama. It’s a qrazy world right now. We are supposed to love one another and help people. I fear for my grandkids futures.

1 year ago

Seems to be part of the “dumbing down and numbing” of our up and coming generation. If you’re high all the time, who’s going to complain about communism? Just part of the lefts control tactics. So sad for our nation.

1 year ago
Reply to  Mimi

You said it that exactly what the agenda is and people are too high to see it. George Soros and company are having a field day.

1 year ago

I live in a state where MJ is sold recreational and I can tell you that the number of collisions where one driver was at or above the per se limit has grown exponentially. It is as big a problem as alcohol crashes, not to mention the rise in armed robberies of dispensaries. DO NOT LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL MJ.

1 year ago

Marijuana is dangerous, especially to teens. I know of several cases of permanent psychosis that was sparked by its use, no doubt via interaction with certain genes. However, prohibition doesnt work unless draconian methods of enforcement are used. Ill offer as an alternative playing the long but necessary game of education as was done with cigarettes. I dont know a single person under thirty who smokes. It is anathema to them. Instead of relying on the dea, government should copy what it did with tobacco. Its either that or machingunning dealers on the spot and no one wants that.

1 year ago

I have never understood why people insist on consuming products that impar their judgment, cause physical harm to themselves and provide avenues of harm to others. While I do consume a beer or a glass of wine on occasion, over endulgence, even with water, can bring dangerous and deadly consequences to both the user and people around them…..marijuana is no exception. Sadly, the promoters of legalizing this mind altering drug are in it for the money,(taxes and jkprofits) nothing else. The more things that are available to satisfy our urges away from reality by ingesting drugs, the more consequences will come to bear on the population at large. The ploy to use the medical advantages of this drug as a jumping off point for general use by anyone and everyone is deceitful. People take cumadin for medical purposes, but if you ingest it in larger quantities you will die. If you drink a beer or two on the back porch after a hard day …..that’s not the same as guzzling two or three six-packs and jumping in the car for a joy ride. Once you start down the road of legalization of marijuana, and we already have, you venture further over time ….to cocaine, heroin, fentinal and more. We don’t need to take that first step…..but we may already be beyond reversal. Addiction (to whatever is available, even CokeCola, coffee, etc.) is over the top in our society and adding things like marijuana (and its relatives) just makes things worse for us all. Moderation in all things has been the lesson….and those things that usurp moderation should be avoided,even outlawed, and rejected. The idea of legalization reminds me of the push for lotteries….with all the hype about how they will generate tons of money for schools, infrastructure and even reduce taxes…..but the reality is that far too many people buy into the lottery, spend their money there first, sacrificing funds for food, clothing and other essentials to get rich quick. The billions taken in by state sanctioned lotteries is seldom reported on and few of us know where that money has gone…..the fact that schools, infrastructure, etc, are not better funded shows you the failure of the hype. Marijuana (aside from very limited and controlled use for the good) is bound for the same kind of failure after the hype. A few will get rich, the criminals will still thrive, some polititian will tout the tax benefit, and thousands will suffer, even die in the end. The culture will decline and the human cost will endure as it expands.

Charlie Collins
1 year ago

It’s way past time for this plant to be legalized with zero federal government involvement what so ever. God made this plant. It works great for pain. Marijuana is not addictive. The only reason they are keeping pot as schedule 1 is big pharma. Pot has been proven to help many different ailments. Big pharma can’t afford to have any competition they are not about healthy they have to keep people taking their poison.

anna hubert
1 year ago

Do drugs and meds affect developing young tender brain , is there any study dealing with that issue,what would the results be?All the homeless and addicts that we see were children

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