Marijuana: the gateway drug…to prosperity.
In a broad study on the ramifications of legalizing recreational marijuana about to be published in The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, two economics professors said a survey of evidence showed a correlation between increased marijuana use and less alcohol use for people ages 18 to 29.
The researchers…said that based on their study, they expected younger people in Colorado and Washington to use marijuana more and alcohol less.
“These states will experience a reduction in the social harms resulting from alcohol use: Reducing traffic injuries and fatalities is potentially one of the most important,” the professors said.
The reality is that prohibition doesn’t work. You have 900,000 people using marijuana in New York City regularly. It’s a $1.65 billion market, and that’s a conservative estimate from my office. Prohibition isn’t working, and instead we have selective enforcement. What we have is that almost always it’s black and Latino youth getting caught up in it and their lives getting ruined by being arrested. They can’t get jobs, they can’t get an education, because they were caught holding a small amount of marijuana.
It’s a big market, it’s being selectively enforced, and the medical professionals say it’s not nearly as harmful as alcohol. No one gets addicted to marijuana, at least not as much as alcohol. No one has gone into a violent rage while high on marijuana. So for all those reasons, let’s put it under regulation and tax it and generate revenue and use that money to cut [the City University of New York] tuition in half. Let’s send the kids to college instead of into the courtrooms.
I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”
Well, I am here to apologize.
I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.
Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”
They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.
The report finds that between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million marijuana arrests in the United States, 88% of which were for possession. Marijuana arrests have increased between 2001 and 2010 and now account for over half [52%] of all drug arrests in the United States, and marijuana possession arrests account for nearly half [46%] of all drug arrests. In 2010, there was one marijuana arrest every 37 seconds, and states spent combined over $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws.
The report also finds that, on average, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, with large and small black populations.