Apr 18, 2014
Tea Party Tribune
Tea Party Tribune
Tea Party and Political News Reporting

A Thoughtful Look at the Marijuana Legalization Trend

Society is gradually becoming more liberal – or libertine – in many ways, and one of the latest trends is the gradual legalization of marijuana in one state after another. This past election, voters approved marijuana for legal (recreational) use in Colorado and Washington. Marijuana has been legalized for recreational or medicinal use in 13 states, with more states to consider it soon. 15 million Americans are regular users of marijuana, a little over 5% of of the population. It seems problematic to criticize its legalization from a logical perspective considering alcohol, another psychoactive substance, is legal. If it is acceptable to legalize alcohol, why not marijuana? Libertarians particularly have a problem with the distinction, which seems inconsistent and arguably a restraint upon freedom.

Legalizing marijuana is not so black and white of a decision as its supporters claim. Marijuana legalization proponents claim that marijuana is not dangerous like alcohol. The facts reveal otherwise. 15 percent of shock-trauma patients who were injured in car accidents had marijuana in their blood, and another 17 percent had both marijuana and alcohol in their blood. 33% of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drug use had drugs in their system; 3,952 drivers total in 2009. Marijuana is the second most commonly found psychoactive substance among drivers after alcohol. In 2009, 376,000 emergency room visits nationwide involved marijuana.

There is a strong correlation between marijuana use and crime. 60% of those arrested across the U.S. test positive for marijuana. This isn’t just crime related to drug use, there is a positive correlation between chronic marijuana use and increased risk of violent behavior. In fact, there is a stronger correlation between property crimes and frequent marijuana use than there is with alcohol use or other illegal drug use, particularly among teenagers. A study of postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more accidents, 85% more injuries and a 75% increase in being absent from work.

Alcohol contains one substance only, ethanol, whereas marijuana contains more than 400 known chemicals. It has 50% to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco. THC, the main chemical in marijuana, damages the immune system. What should frighten even proponents is that marijuana use diminishes mental function. THC disrupts nerve cells in the brain affecting memory. Any marijuana user can tell you it causes paranoia. Exacerbating this is that marijuana is much stronger now than it was in the hippie era. It used to be grown with THC levels of less than 1%. Now those levels are at 9.6% and increasing.

Another myth put out by marijuana proponents is that it is not addictive. One in six teenagers who tries it will become addicted. Even worse, marijuana is a gateway drug; 99.9% of cocaine users began by first using a substance like marijuana. When the high fades, drug users must increase their dosage or switch to something stronger in order to maintain the euphoria. Marijuana is frequently dipped in PHP, a powerful hallucinogen, which can cause severe physical reactions like seizures, coma and death.

Even if the government legalizes marijuana, there are consequences in the private sector for those who use it. Many employers prohibit the use of marijuana, and since traces of the drug stay in the body for quite awhile after usage, many marijuana users in the states that have legalized it may lose their jobs. Marijuana remains in urine for up to 30 days and in hair for up to 90 days.

Legalization proponents point to the enormous amount of money the government has spent on the “War on Drugs,” which has done little to decrease illegal drug use. However, if society is no longer deterred from using drugs, the numbers of drug users will increase, and we will see those costs reflected elsewhere: increased drugged driving crashes, treatment costs and lower productivity. Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, characterizes it this way, “Legalization of marijuana would solve the marijuana problem the way legalizing speeding would solve the speeding problem: it would remove the legal inhibition of a dangerous behavior, and thereby encourage the behavior.”

Another myth is that the government is wasting money locking up marijuana users. No one in jail for marijuana is actually serving time for using the drug; they were arrested for a more serious offense and were permitted to plead guilty to the lesser charge in order to reduce their sentence.

Who does not have compassion for the terminally ill elderly person slowly dying a painful death, whose pain could be greatly eased by marijuana? The problem is medical legalization is not only benefiting those in medical need of it; in states where marijuana has been legalized for medicinal use, 94% of those using it do not suffer from a debilitating illness, but are simply regular users. This is a result of more dishonesty by legalization proponents.

Sometimes it may be best just to cut our losses. As society learned from Prohibition, it is probably too late to shut the door on the legalization of alcohol. Perhaps there is some opiate of the masses that is necessary for a balanced society; the benefits to those who drink alcohol in moderation outweigh the negatives of those who abuse it. But it may not be too late to prevent the floodgates from opening the slippery slope of drug legalization. Just like those who oppose marijuana legalization are accused of being hypocritical, what about those who would legalize marijuana but not methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin?

A free society does not mean that every action must be legal. Free society is governed by the harm principle; the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to others. Yet why do we accept that certain things cause harm to others, but not other things? For example, society – through a handful of judges in black robes – has arbitrarily decided that killing a baby in the womb by abortion is not a crime that must be prohibited. Whereas the situation of someone defending themselves with a gun in many cases is considered to be a crime. A persuasive argument can be made that marijuana use causes harm to others. While it may not be as strong or as black and white of an argument as others, the thousands of lives that are saved as a result may be enough to persuade some free thinkers.

If marijuana is legalized everywhere, there will be an escalation of the types of problems currently associated with alcohol abuse. “Freedom” for some will come at a cost of freedom to others, who may lose their lives in car accidents or their wallets as their insurance goes up to pay for the treatment costs and insurance of addicts. While it is true there is some hypocrisy when it comes to legalizing alcohol but not marijuana, it is irresponsible to hide the truth about the dangers of marijuana and the consequences of legalizing it. Even if one comes down on the side of legalizing marijuana for philosophical reasons, the costs it will bring to society cannot be ignored.

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander is the editor of intellectualconservative.com and an attorney. She writes a weekly column for Townhall and other publications. In 2009, she received the RightOnline Activist of the Year award. She was named one of Right Wing News' best 50 conservative columnists for the last three years in a row. Her day job is as editor of Western Shooting Journal.
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20 Comments

  1. Not an Idiot

    January 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    There sure are a lot of claims being made in this article with 0 citation. Troubling at best. The myth of Marijuana being a "gateway" drug are elevated. One could easily say that alcohol is the true gateway drug, as it is usually the first consciousness altering substance used. Furthermore, by legalizing and regulating marijuana you would not force people (of whatever age) to go to criminals (drug dealers) to buy it. It is in the best interest of drug dealers to escalate a persons drug use for their own benefit, and since more powerful drugs don't last as long and cost more money it makes since for dealers to promote their use.

    I also find it ridiculous that you claim no one is in jail solely for marijuana possession.

    • Joyce

      January 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Your post is right on target. He is lying when he says no one is in jail for pot, A huge number of people are in prison for pot. There are people who party and people that don't. What they start with isn't the issue. The issue is if they become addicted to a hard drug or alcohol. When our LE gets serious about drugs they will go after the cartels that supply us with coke,heroin and lbs. of meth. Our people grow pot and go to prison for it. Our govt sells weapons to Mexican drug cartels and hide behind executive order. Are they hiding drug money? Pot isn't our problem . Our citizens go to prison for the drugs our govt allows into the country,

  2. Doug

    February 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Make it legal and after the noveltie dies down we will probaly see use decrease. I really question the statistics in the artice. From my research I found zero fatalitiy car crashes due to pot usage and a lot that were attibuted to booze of hard drugs. The "gateway" statment is also a bunch of bull. Kids who go to big parties and other scioal events where pot is in use will be exposed to people using harder drugs. The pot did not make them try hard drugs, the proximity did. Usage should be regulated and governed just like booze as far as driving anf age requirments.

  3. J3ffro

    March 10, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Legalization of marijuana is not a "liberal" idea. It's a very "conservative" idea. It's a huge waste of tax payers money going after marijuana users with no results.
    When has curbing wasteful spending ever been a "liberal" idea?

  4. smarterthanyou

    March 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    It didn't take me long to find a BS moment in this article, -15 percent of shock-trauma patients who were injured in car accidents had marijuana in their blood, and another 17 percent had both marijuana and alcohol in their blood. 33% of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drug use had drugs in their system; 3,952 drivers total in 2009. Marijuana is the second most commonly found psychoactive substance among drivers after alcohol. In 2009, 376,000 emergency room visits nationwide involved marijuana.-
    So, cannabis is detectable in your bloodstream for up to 90 days after ingestion. That makes the statistics unreliable. "drug use" throws cannabis in with crack, heroin and crystal meth which just makes the addition of that statistic misleading at best because those other drugs are not only in a completely different school than cannabis, no one is demanding legalization.
    I'm not going to bother reading your whole article, as by simply skimming through it, you're presenting no new arguments but rehashing the old ones that are full of fallacies.

  5. Marline

    March 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I just think that It is in the best interest of drugdealers to escalate a persons drug use for their own benefit, and since more powerful drugs don't last as long and cost more money it makes since for dealers to promote their use. http://www.nonfaithbased-drugrehab.org/biophysica

  6. ronmorgen

    March 15, 2013 at 4:05 am

    The article is BS as noted by the commenters. Why do the supposedly Constitutional Conservatives want the federal government to regulate the substances we consume? The drugs they don't take they want to ban.. They are fine with alcohol because they consume plenty. Hypocrites.

  7. Terry

    May 11, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Obviously someone with a bias and uninformed. Almost everything in this article can be disuputed. It is the MENTAL HEALTH problem we have in this society that is the problem. Marijuana is probably actually SAFER than alcohol and there is not ONE death that has been attributed to it and it alone. If there has been, please cite it. We put many other, legal, more harmful substances in our bodies all the time….just look at all the anti-depressants people are taking. Get educated people. Read for yourselves.

  8. LIbertarian

    May 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    "Marijuana is frequently dipped in PHP, a powerful hallucinogen, which can cause severe physical reactions like seizures, coma and death."

    PHP? This is a joke, right?

    Rachel Alexander, how do you know that 94% of MMJ patients are lying? Are you sure it's not 93% or 95%?

  9. Mike

    May 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    More than the legalization of marijuana, I think government should focus more on creating job opportunities for our people. Time and money to be used discussing on marijuana, should rather be spent on ideas on how to improve the educational system, health care and public works of the country.

  10. resoltji

    June 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    What I do believe out of this article is that attention on marijuana is costing taxpayers plenty of money. There are more pressing points that need our attention; like, how doctors are prescribing VERY addictive prescription medication without a flinch or effort on their part to monitor those they are prescribing to. Yes, we need to go after the cartels, but we also need to lessen the demand by doing our part. Get your friends and family to treatment centers if you think they are showing signs of addiction.

  11. slo

    October 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    "This site is owned and operated by 100% conservative patriots who are of the mind that God, Family, Country and Liberty are to be revered above all else!"

    Please strike "Liberty" from the statement on the about page after running this article. I have never read such a contrived justification of keeping marijuana illegal and I'm not even a user.

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  13. Liarhater

    January 14, 2014 at 12:18 am

    "This isn’t just crime related to drug use, there is a positive correlation between chronic marijuana use and increased risk of violent behavior."

    Moronic

  14. Dennis

    January 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    The statistics are so provably wrong, so obviously biased that anyone that calls this journalism is a fool. I've been pouring over statistics for months now, and can say with a high degree of confidence, the author is either making them up as she goes or is moral corrupt and just believes the end justifies the means. "It is ok to lie about cannabis if we are protecting the children." I would expect better research and citation from a high school student doing an essay than this propaganda.

  15. Phil

    February 11, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Look the Tea Party Can't have one view isn't a Political Party. It is made up of many individual groups and people. You have libertarians,conservatives,and one issue people among others. who have gotten together to fight Big Government and High taxes. Everyone does not think alike nor do we want that. some are pro Marijuana and others are Anti Marijuana.As you know the Anti-Cannabis propaganda has been going on for almost a hundred years. You want to convince individuals. It's not a monolithic party. I say you can convince me if you are willing to promote free markets and individual rights. Whether or not the whole party is with me or not. Now if you are just a one issue movement or care nothing about historic American ideals then most Tea Party members won't support you and won't thwart you. Just be ambivalent. We are for freedom and that means a lot I personally think the Prohibition is UnAmerican and does more harm then good. Organized Crime,Drug Gangs and Cartels, Corruption in Politics and Business.

  16. Adam

    February 23, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Yeah this article get's it's facts straight out of the propaganda film 'Reefer Madness'. I'm a former marijuana user, I quite awhile back because unfortunately quitting was the only way to open the door to the career I want to pursue. Anyhow I smoked for nigh on 10 years, I've got zero moving traffic violations to my name, I absolutely abhor violence and crime of any sort and my short term memory is as crappie as it was when I was a kid before I ever smoked. Not to mention most of the "facts" listed in this article cited marijuana use as coming in after alcohol, alcohol which of course is LEGAL. Couple that with the statistics listed that make no mention of the pool from which the criminal statistics were taken, I.E. high risk inner city type crime areas and it's easy to see this article for what it is, propaganda.

  17. Susan Fariss

    February 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    If this writer wants to be taken seriously, she needs to use citations to go with her statistics. Clearly, these statistics are not based on fact. The writer must know this, thus, no citations.

  18. Sery

    February 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Based off "factual" information that Rachel remembers hearing off watching Refer Madness on Netflix one night while passing out drunk…..

  19. Steve

    March 13, 2014 at 4:04 am

    I really don't believe the statistic of 99.9% of people who use cocaine first started smoking pot which did not give them the same high and needed something stronger. That sound a little sketchy! I know a lot of pot smokers who have been smoking for a very long time, however not one of them has tried cocaine! But I guess it is different for everyone. The long term effect of legalizing marijuana in some states is too soon to say. As the money is rolling in from Marijuana, couldn't this money be used in a positive manner to initiate support for so many other areas for public life…

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