Gloria B. MacTaggart
The legalization of marijuana has been an issue for a long time, but since Governor Schwarzenegger opened the door to serious discussion of the subject as a remedy to California’s financial problems it’s getting more headlines than ever. Amsterdam is frequently cited as the model for legalization, but any proponent who has researched the Amsterdam results would realize that using it as a model defeats their purpose.
Immediately after Amsterdam’s legalization of marijuana, there was virtually no change in the number of people using it – which is being used as a rebuttal to those who think more people would smoke it if they could get it legally – but things changed dramatically thereafter.
Over the next several years, as marijuana became commercialized, usage increased by 300%. At that time, 44% of young people aged 18 to 20 said they had used it, and the number who had done so within the past month more than doubled. That, and other problems, led to stricter laws being passed.
To justify the legalization it has also become politically incorrect to say that there is anything wrong with marijuana and police who say they are aware of ‘an enormous number of young people strongly dependent on soft drugs, with all the consequences …’ have their hands tied because those problems don’t, officially, exist.
Anyone who thinks things will be any different in America has to look at what’s happened with prescription drugs. Since their commercialization (direct to consumer advertising) became legal, prescription drug abuse has become the country’s second largest cause of death. And that’s just for illegal use. We also have a huge increase in prescription drug use with people going to their doctor asking for pills they’ve seen advertised – the drug companies are doing more diagnosing than the doctors. And more and more people are seeking drug treatment to get off prescription drugs, whether obtained legally or illegally.
What will happen with legalization of marijuana? In this land of opportunity, you can safely bet everything you have including your car, house, job and children that people will be jumping at the chance to sell marijuana faster than a pharmaceutical company can pounce on a new DSM IV diagnosis.
There are many studies that prove marijuana is addictive (even though one may not become physically dependent on it), that it causes disassociation, psychosis and schizophrenia, and that it’s connected to lung damage and various cancers.
As is usually the case with champions of any cause, proponents of legalization insist on ignoring these particular studies and choose to believe information that supports their cause. And that information abounds, too. The question is this: Do we really want to take the chance?