I’ve often thought that, for an adult, getting mildly exhilarated without the caloric intake of wine or other alcoholic beverage would be a good thing. And doesn’t the government already intrude either directly or indirectly in too many of our personal decisions? So why not legalize marijuana, as a referendum on the Massachusetts ballot in November would allow?
I certainly favor the new law governing the medical use of marijuana, notwithstanding the ineptitude of the state’s implementation. But a recent op ed by Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh and Attorney General Maura Healey has me reconsidering whether legalizing pot for general recreational use is really such a good idea. Alaska, Colorado, Washington State, Oregon and the District of Columbia have done it. States do control how much marijuana adults over the age of 21 can have in their possession, and limits how many marijuana plants they can have. But studies reveal that where pot has been legalized for adults, use among teenagers has increased dramatically both in absolute terms and compared to teen marijuana use elsewhere.
The three Massachusetts officials also cite studies showing that regular use of pot during adolescence can “impair brain development, shrink school and career outcomes, and even lower IQ.” Those who start in adolescence are also more likely to become dependent. Other reports cite a significant increase in the number of emergency room visits in the year after Colorado legalized marijuana.
The percentage of traffic fatalities attributed to marijuana use has doubled in Colorado since the legalization of marijuana. There has also been an increase in marijuana-related calls to poison control emergency lines.
Cannabist writers dismiss these problems noting it’s just that new users don’t know how to use pot properly. NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote of her out-of-body experience on consuming a marijuana-laced candy bar, and she (a self-described very occasional user) details the horrible things people have done while under the influence of marijuana, especially, it seems, in edible form. Dowd notes that, at least with alcohol, users know what they’re getting into. Could this really just be a problem with regulation, dosage control and education?
In 2014, cannabis promoters organized a “Consume Responsibly” campaign. But given the horrific problems we’re now experiencing with opioid abuse, easy access to cheap heroin, family impact of alcoholism, does it make sense to add pot to the mix and stir? I think not. But please, dear readers, weigh in on this one. I really want your feedback.
I welcome your comments in the section below. To be alerted when a new blog is posted, click on “Follow’ in the lower right portion of your screen.