The argument that we, as a nation, can “Make Marijuana Safer by Making It Legal” [Oct. 2014] is shortsighted at best and a public disaster at worst.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 33 – No 12 – December 2014
Medical marijuana should be legalized for use in every state and under federal law. But it should be restricted to patients who have documented medical conditions that either cannot be controlled with standard medical treatments or for whom those treatments cannot be tolerated.
However, legalization of “recreational” marijuana will have a major detrimental effect on the health of individual users and on the health care system in this country. Decriminalization for possession is a viable option and one that will not put the profit motive into its legal production. It is not an “unjust” law to prohibit marijuana. Yes, arresting users is a waste of money, resources, and lives. But arresting distributors is not.
Prohibition of marijuana is not a violation of our personal liberties. The Constitution was not based on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This reference, from the Declaration of Independence, was not meant to elevate an individual’s desires above those of the common good. It did not have the same meaning and intent that we interpret “happiness” to mean. It was intended to describe an individual’s feeling of self-worth by contributing to society as a whole.
In order to see the detrimental effect that legalization will have on society, you just have to read the accompanying article, “The Impact of Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado” [Oct. 2014]. How many more homeless are there in the state who came specifically to obtain legal marijuana? How many more ED visits and hospitalizations? How many more children will suffer from either accidental or intentional toxic ingestions from edible marijuana products?
Just because there is already one legal intoxicant that permeates society, alcohol, with its consequences of increased motor vehicle accidents, chronic medical conditions, and social issues including marital breakups, spousal and child abuse, lost days from work, and untold millions of dollars spent in hospital visits and care for alcohol-induced medical conditions, does not mean that a “safer” one should also be legalized.
And legalization is not safer for children. True, drug dealers don’t ask for IDs and proof of age. But neither do many bars and liquor stores. Yet children can obtain liquor with false ID cards and through others and will do the same with legalized marijuana.
Legalize medical marijuana, decriminalize recreational use, but do not encourage its use by legalizing recreational marijuana. It will have deleterious effects on everyone in this country, especially the children. It will lead to increased numbers of motor vehicle accidents, learning detriments among young users, increased ED visits and hospital admissions, and increased homelessness and unemployment.