Sunday, April 24, 2011

Let's Not Legalize Another Addictive Drug

Sometimes I think about whether this world we live in makes sense. I'm also old enough to know that sometimes what makes sense to me won't make sense to you and vice versa. So, that said, let me talk with you about something that doesn't make sense to me.

There is a growing number of people that seem to think that legalizing marijuana for recreational use is a great idea. In fact, it seems to be an idea that many are so ready for that they can't see the forest for the trees. Or should I say they can't see really big problem with marijuana for the pro-legalization rhetoric.

Here are some reasons given for legalizing marijuana:

1. Tax it and we'll make money for social services.
2. Marijuana is way less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. Since those two are already legal, then it only makes sense to put marijuana in the same legal category.
3. Marijuana is not addictive so what's the big deal anyway?

FACT 1: We tax alcohol and the damage done by drinkers far outstrips the money brought in from taxes. On top of that, raising alcohol taxes is next to impossible due to the distaste in most legislative bodies for so called "sin taxes." So the alcohol taxes in Nevada are those that were set in 1981 with not a whole lot (if any) change in 30 years.

FACT 2: I'll admit that marijuana is not as dangerous in many ways as alcohol. But that's not the point! Saying that we shouldn't legalize marijuana because alcohol is already legal and way worse than marijuana holds no logic. In addition, the two legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco) are the most used drugs. Do you see any connection for what will happen if we legalize this drug? Oh, and by the way, marijuana does have its own dangers, one of which is the potential for addiction.

FACT 3: Marijuana is addictive. Those that want to legalize the drug say adamantly that it's not addictive. But it is. The single biggest reason for adolescent treatment admissions in Nevada is for marijuana. I've known several thousand addicted people in my career, many of whom also were addicted to marijuana. The science and our experience say that marijuana is addictive. Why do we want to add another addictive drug to our list of legal drugs?

I realize that this little blog may get some attention from those who deeply believe we should legalize the drug. I understand that and even understand the reasoning behind it. That said, legalizing marijuana for recreational use is bad policy. I invite your comments and ask only that anything submitted is respectful and I will be the same.

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