Two States Ease Marijuana Laws
Before the election I was so worried about my candidate losing that the marijuana issue was relegated to the back of my mind. So it was a shock to read, the morning of November 8th, that Colorado and Washington residents voted in favor of smoking pot recreationally.
This event has brought up so many issues that I hardly know where to begin. Many of them relate to a comparison between marijuana and alcohol, and whether one is more harmful than the other.
Some people have compared the results of the vote to prohibition, according to The New York Times article. Then there are the political and economic arguments that legalizing marijuana will help reduce the dangerous and illegal drug trade and free up law enforcement resources.
Articles with titles such as “Marijuana Tourism Looms Large After Election Results” are also appearing, although this AP article on MSN notes that that’s really speculation. In any event, it was news to me, and probably others, that there will be a waiting period before the changes take effect. It will take a month for the change to be put into effect, and then state officials must write “rules, tax codes, and other regulations” for state-licensed retail marijuana shops to be opened.
I also didn’t realize that this occurrence clashes with federal laws, and specifically the Justice Department. A Seattle police chief said there’s no danger the D.E.A will rush in to enforce the federal law in these two states, but the U.S. Attorney General refuted that.
You know I couldn’t end this post without including comments from an addiction specialist. I easily found an OPED by addiction psychiatrist Ed Gogek, who practices in Prescott, AZ, and is also a board member of Keep AZ Drug Free there. (I don’t know how long the link will be active, so won’t include it. There was lots of good information when I checked, though.)
Gogek, a Democrat himself, says: “…Democrats should think twice about becoming the party of pot. I’m a lifelong partisan Democrat, but I’ve also spent 25 years as a doctor treating drug abusers, and I know their games. They’re excellent con artists.”
He notes that many people who use marijuana for pain relief can fake pain, and it’s hard to prove them wrong. He goes on to say, “It’s possible that they all really do need pot to help them. But consider this: pain patients are mostly female, whereas a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that adult cannabis abusers were 74 percent male.”
And if we need to be reminded that teenage pot use has increased 40% in four years, and heavy use – 20 times a month or more – has increased 80 percent. So he’s worried about the message this election result sends to teens — that it’s OK to indulge and there are no consequences, yet recent research indicates pot smoking permanently lowers IQ.
The next day brought letters to the editor. One was from a representative from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws who is also coauthor of “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?” She noted that surveys by respected pollsters have found that a majority of Americans are for legalizing pot smoking within a “system of limited legalization and regulation.” A second letter calls legalization “a lesser evil,” and a third, from a psychotherapist who has treated addiction and is himself a recovering addict, said that “to focus the debate on the degree to which [pot] is harmful … is ridiculous. Of course it is harmful and of course it is addictive.”
So the future should be interesting.