Mary Jane. Weed. Pot. Nicknames for marijuana are endless, as are the negative impacts that its legalization would have on American citizens. The United States federal government should not legalize marijuana, because corporatization of marijuana would lead to lethal consequences, and a plethora of social costs would result.
California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom recently stated that “legalization should not be about replacing one cartel with another.” Yet by handing over the manufacturing rights for marijuana to large-scale multinational corporations, that’s essentially what would be happening.
According to a 2016 report by the Christian Science Monitor, corporations are willing to create health and safety risks for consumers in order to make the largest profit possible. By removing marijuana from Schedule 1 on the Controlled Substances Act, companies would be allowed to genetically modify and enhance weed, making it more dangerous with possible lethal consequences, along with increases in addiction and more widespread use. Marijuana cigarettes and other addictive combinations sold at dispensaries would give these corporations substantial marketing and advertising power, while causing detrimental health issues in the mean time, said the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies.
These health concerns include poor memory, short attention spans, IQ decrease of up to 8 points, cognitive decline, and trigger of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, all according to Wall Street Journal’s Robert White. This would in particular have a perilous impact on young users, as legalization will cause a 4 to 6 time increase in teen use, causing millions of adolescents to be extremely susceptible to these health problems, reports William Bennett, director of National Drug Control Policy.
The legalization and unavoidable corporatization of marijuana would lead to mass production, making it easier for anyone to obtain, as it can literally be picked up off the streets in Colorado. This thus inherently sends a message to those underage that pot is acceptable and okay for one’s health (both false assumptions).
A parallel can be drawn between the tobacco industry and a potential marijuana industry. It took decades to strengthen the controls on tobacco production and marketing, so there’s absolutely nothing to stop massively powerful corporations from abusing the manufacture of weed for many years to come. In addition, the marijuana market would lean heavily on the tobacco market, because of marijuana cigarettes and the fact that both can be smoked, consumed by vaporizer, and ingested orally.
According to the LA Times Magazine, deaths attributed to tobacco are in the hundreds of thousands each year in America alone, and this figure would only grow with additionally harmful strains of marijuana added to the mix. Dr. Kevin Sabet, former Senior Policy Advisor to President Obama's Drug Czar, reports that the average strength of today’s pot is already 5 to 6 times stronger than what it was in the 60’s and 70’s.
Now, on to the negative social costs of recreational marijuana, such as the gateway effect. Evidence from Dr. Lynn Fiellin from the Yale School of Medicine proves that early marijuana use increases likelihood for hard drug use later in life. This detrimental road leading addicts to cocaine and heroin type substances was 2 to 5 times more likely for those who used marijuana before age 17. Add into that that “the stigma of using an illegal drug and the risk of going to court will be eliminated, thereby removing the social cost of use” and providing a false sense of security for underage users. The mental effects of regular usage by huge proportions of Americans would also hurt America’s ability to learn and compete in a global marketplace.
Proponents of marijuana legalization often argue that the tax revenue generated from marijuana would be well worth any possible consequences. This is rather presumptuous, as there is no quantitative evidence that proves this point. Rather, according to WhiteHouse, the official website of the executive branch, economic costs associated with use of marijuana could far outweigh any benefit gained from an increase in tax revenue.
The legalization would mean that price decreases, usage increases, the underground market/drug cartels adapt by forming gray areas of production without taxes, and revenue most likely will not keep pace with the financial and social cost of making this drug more accessible. As marijuana is the primary drug of abuse in over one-fifth of California, majority of treatment costs have fallen to California taxpayers, and this increase offsets legalization’s beneficial effects, says the Rand Drug Policy Research Center. This economic inefficiency would fall to the entire United States were legalization to occur, creating a multitude of costs from health and mental wellness problems, accidents, and damage to economic productivity. David Evans, Special Adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation, added that these costs will far outweigh any tax revenue obtained. America’s already struggling economy does not need the added burden of marijuana legalization.
It is important to note that the impact of legalizing marijuana would be absolutely lethal to Americans. Consumers would be at the mercy of largescale corporations, who care nothing for people’s health and will do whatever they can to make a profit, even if that means putting the life of millions at risk with genetically modified strains of weed and tobacco. In addition, America’s economy cannot afford to have its ability to compete in the global workplace hampered by the mental and gateway effects of marijuana.
If this article has caused you to see marijuana legalization in a new light, I strongly urge you to give your state’s congressman a quick call or email, to let them know how you feel, and encourage them to vote against legalization.