Ridiculous Arguments Against Marijuana Legalization: Part II
In Part I, we covered three of the most ridiculous arguments against marijuana legalization. But that list is far from short. While there are many to choose from, there are a couple that seem to pop up more often than we’d expect.
It’s easy to embrace something as fact, simply because it fits a certain personal narrative. But this tendency is just delaying a societal change that’s long overdue. So, like earlier, let’s take a look at these claims and see what reality has to say about them.
Keeping Marijuana Illegal Makes It Harder to Access
Most anti-legalization advocates either state or just quietly accept this as fact. They’re under the impression that banning cannabis makes it much harder to find. But nothing could be further from the truth.
According to an article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
In 2016, 9.4 percent of 8th graders reported marijuana use in the past year and 5.4 percent in the past month (current use). Among 10th graders, 23.9 percent had used marijuana in the past year and 14.0 percent in the past month. Rates of use among 12th graders were higher still: 35.6 percent had used marijuana during the year prior to the survey and 22.5 percent used in the past month; 6.0 percent said they used marijuana daily or near-daily.
If this is an example of prohibition’s success, it doesn’t look very – well – successful. But when you boil it down, it’s a simple matter of logistics. A black market substance, like marijuana, can easily be obtained from family, friends or acquaintances. In short, somebody eventually knows a dealer or person who casually sells. Last we looked, these guys don’t check ID.
Without a clerk and some ID to stop a kid from buying marijuana, students can fill the void with their own side business.
Marijuana is a Gateway Drug
This argument has been shredded over and over again, yet parents and prohibition advocates cling to it anyway. Maybe they refuse to believe it, or keep it around for its rhetorical value. After all, what better way to scare people off than to say cannabis inevitably leads to the use of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and LSD?
Well, the claim is just plain wrong. Once again, we can turn to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for proof. They explain that, although marijuana does increase people’s sensitivity to other drugs – called “cross-sensitization” – (as do alcohol and nicotine), this doesn’t seem to affect future substance abuse. The Institute lays it out in plain English, writing that “…the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances.”
But that’s just half of it. Not only does cannabis not increase the chances of experimenting with other drugs, but it can actually help addicts come off of them – or prevent use altogether.
According to a 2014 study published in JAMA, states that legalized and dispensed medical marijuana were able to use it to replace opioids as the addict’s drug of choice. They also preferred to prescribe cannabis over narcotics for pain relief. Consequently, the mean annual death rate from opioids was 24.8% lower than that of states where medical cannabis was unavailable.
People also seem to use it for virtually any habit imaginable. Dr. Rick Nauert, PhD writes that ”a poll of 350 cannabis users [found] that 40 percent used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66 percent as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26 percent for other, more potent illegal drugs.”
Now that we’ve explored some of the more overused and misunderstood arguments by the anti-legalization crowd, it’s easy to see how people can get caught up in hysteria. In their misplaced fear, people turn to misplaced claims. The only way to combat this is to check our facts and always be willing to delve deeper, even if we don’t like what’s presented.