Update on the Legalization of Pot and a New Health Concern
Now that marijuana has been legal in Colorado and Washington for awhile (since the November elections), probably many people are wondering how things are going. The media has not disappointed, with articles aplenty appearing.
As early as December, state officials and marijuana advocates in Colorado had questions, such as who could sell pot, what about consumer safety, and what would the effect on employers and employees be. In early January, writers pointed to health concerns, such as the effect on teenage brains. One January article, “Legalizing of Marijuana Raises Health Concerns”, mentioned that more than twelve states “have decriminalized possession of small amounts and Massachusetts recently became the 18th state to allow its use for medicinal purposes.”
President Obama seemed to slough off any real concern, saying the government won’t aggressively go after sellers, even though federal law forbids the sale and possession of pot. If you’re interested in statistics, I found this informative: 32% of users become addicted to tobacco, 23% to heroin, 15% to alcohol, and only 10 percent to marijuana. (The numbers seem impossible–How can that be?)
More concerns followed in the article. Today’s pot is scarier, since the psychoactive ingredient, THC, doubled from 1993 to 2008, which Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, says is the reason for higher admittances to emergency rooms and treatment programs. The higher potency also has implications for still-developing teenage brains as well.
Another January article told the story of a California man who was optimistic about starting a business to sell pot for medicinal purposes. The federal government prosecuted, even though Matthew Davies had filed for state and local business permits and paid state sales taxes. This writer compared the issues in this case as similar to the ones that those selling pot will face selling recreational pot.
It’s a difficult case to understand. The government seemed to be saying it was not a legitimate operation and that he was making much more money than he said. Thus, he was basically a “major league drug trafficker.” I gleaned, from a comment following the article, that you’re limited to making a certain amount in this type of business. Two of his co-defendants pleaded guilty to get a shorter sentence.
An NBC news segment in January, “Marijuana restrictions: Appeals Court Backs DEA…” told of a case in which three judges refused to side with a medical marijuana user who said the DEA should change the restrictions on pot to a lower-classified tier. This is a slippery slope, just as those who truly need pain medication are arguing that placing stronger restrictions on Oxycodone will harm them.