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How Dangerous Is Pot?

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CJLF takes no position on proposals to legalize marijuana, although Kent and I personally opposed (and California voters defeated), Prop 19.  Still, the debate rages on.  Libertarian scholars like my colleague Prof. Randy Barnett at Georgetown believe that continued criminalization is a bad and very costly idea.  My own view, both when I was the chief advisor to the head of the DEA, and in my career as a federal prosecutor, was that pot's relatively benign reputation is a myth, driven in part by my generation's fondness for the follies of its youth.

I too yearn for the follies of my younger days.  Just not that one.

Today, MSNBC  --  not the source of a lot of Puritan thinking  --  puts out this article on the growing evidence of the link between smoking pot and the early onset of mental disease, specifically schizophrenia and related forms of psychosis.  The study discussed in the story has its critics, but it seems to me to be sufficiently worrisome that legalizers might want to take note.

We report, you decide.

2 Comments

FWIW, opposing Prop. 19 was an easy call because of how badly it was written. Giving the tax and regulation authority to local governments was just insane.

An argument can be made for marijuana being legal but highly taxed and tightly regulated. With local decision and a mobile population (we do love our cars), the tax and regulation thresholds would be effectively set to the lowest in the region. Given that some California localities are run by complete loons, the result would have been low taxes, lax regulation, and a substantial increase in consumption.

We can yuck it up all we like laughing at that ridiculous old propaganda film, but there really is a connection between reefers and madness. Even if the causal link has not been conclusively proved, it certainly has not been disproved, and we do not want to take irreversible steps in the direction of sharply increased consumption.

Opponents of the present prohibition would do better to acknowledge the problems and develop proposals aimed at alternative ways of discouraging use.

During a period of marijuana commercialization and expansion in Europe, research identified a tripling of use rates over a lifetime and a more than doubling of past 30 days use among 18-20 year olds.

In this country, about 8.5% of drivers who sustained injuries or died in traffic accidents tested positive for THC.

There are profound and wide-ranging social costs associated with legalization of marijuana.

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