Marijuana legalization: Con and pro

Reefer Madness

I’m flying home from Colorado, where marijuana became legal for recreational use earlier this month. I didn’t see anyone lighting up but there was certainly a bit of a buzz in the air about it. In Massachusetts, too, marijuana is becoming less illegal –with decriminalization followed by medical use. I wouldn’t be surprised to see full legalization coming, too.

I have to admit I’m a little surprised that the pro-pot faction is making so much headway. And a little disappointed, too. I won’t invite comparisons to Reefer Madness by sounding too alarmist, but clearly marijuana is not good for you. ┬áIt seems to me that in an era where cigarette distribution is becoming more restricted and people are becoming more conscious of what they eat and how they take care of their bodies, marijuana would be getting less popular not more.

If marijuana has valid medicinal uses then it should be tested and approved like any other drug. And if clinical trials show it doesn’t work then it should be off the market. I expect that in a few years, if marijuana use soars as I think it might, we might have a situation similar to what we’re witnessing with narcotic painkillers now. In other words, we’ll be regretting that we were too sanguine about the use of these products but that it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal has a good op/ed piece in the Wall Street Journal today in which he lays out the various dangers of weed.

Having said that, I do favor decriminalization of marijuana. Getting busted for pot shouldn’t land a person with a criminal record, which could ruin their life by ruining their job prospects. But perhaps the most compelling reason for decriminalization is that it ends the incentive for the police and federal authorities to seize assets –like houses, land and cash– to use for their own purposes. The police should not have those kinds of incentives in place. The Wall Street Journal has a good piece on this as well.

photo credit: kat st kat via photopin cc

By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.

January 10, 2014

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