Legalization of Marijuana in California: Arguments - Sovereign Health Group
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10-15-10 Category: Addiction Treatment

The legalization of Marijuana: Good idea or the worst idea in the history of the United States?

In the upcoming election, the recreational (i.e., non-medical) use of marijuana may be legalized in California.  Some people see it as a source of revenue for California, but no one seems to be considering the added costs of legalizing the drug in terms of healthcare and the treatment of  marijuana use.

Here are some of the arguments people make for the legalization of marijuana:

Argument: Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.

Response: This is only true when alcohol is used to excess (i.e., when people drink alcohol to get drunk).  Many marijuana smokers will tell you that everyone uses alcohol to get drunk, but that’s only because they only smoke marijuana to get high and the idea of drinking alcohol and not getting high is foreign to them.  Argument: Marijuana can be taxed and create revenue for California.

Response:  Cocaine could be taxed and generate revenue as well.  If money is the main reason for legalizing a drug used primarily to get high, then there are many other drugs we should make legal and tax as well.

Argument:  Marijuana does not increase crime like other drugs do.

Response:  The simple fact is this – someone high on marijuana is more likely to commit a crime than someone not high on marijuana.  A person’s judgment is biologically affected when they are high.

Argument: Marijuana is medically used to treat some conditions.

Response:  This is true, but Cocaine, Oxycontin. Vicodin, and Amphetamines are all used medically as well, but you don’t see anyone rushing to legalize those drugs for recreational use.

Argument: Marijuana is no different than alcohol.

Response:  Let me tell you the primary difference between Alcohol and Marijuana and why this argument breaks down at a fundamental level that everyone seems to ignore ? a person can drink alcohol and not get high, whereas people smoke marijuana to get high.

Why does everyone seem to ignore this simple fact?  There are people out there who when they drink alcohol with dinner, or after work, or at lunch, stop drinking when they start to feel the effects of the drug.  Marijuana is used to get high. Alcohol abuse is when people drink alcohol to the point that they are inebriated.  Once a person is ‘high’ on alcohol, all sorts of bad things happen.  Most of what a person does while they are ‘high’ on alcohol is illegal ? even walking down the street whilst  ‘high’ can land you in jail.

Here’s some simple logic, repeated in different ways, to understand the reasoning (I’m replacing necessary and sufficient conditions with other words to make more sense to those that do not understand those logical conditions):

  • Smoking marijuana always results in getting high.
  • Getting high does not always mean you smoked marijuana.
  • Drinking alcohol does not always mean you are high.
  • If you are high, you have not always consumed alcohol.
  • If you are high, you may have consumed alcohol.
  • If you have smoked marijuana, then you are high.
  • If you are high, you are more likely to commit a crime.
  • If you are sober, you are less likely to commit a crime.
  • If you smoke marijuana, you will get high.
  • If you are not high, then you did not smoke marijuana.
  • If you are not high, then you did not smoke marijuana.
  • If you are high, then you may have consumed alcohol.

Legalizing marijuana will actually create more problems than making alcohol illegal did with prohibition.

From an addiction treatment perspective, legalizing marijuana is a horrible idea, but great for business I guess.

Having worked in addiction treatment for as long as I have, I often tell families and clients that marijuana is actually the worst drug there is.  Why do I consider marijuana to be the worst drug there is?

  1. Smoking marijuana is a slow and steady decline into the world of addiction.
  2. Marijuana has its own religion and counterculture associated with it.  The marijuana culture has its own magazines, religion and rituals.
  3. Marijuana is a gateway drug.  People who smoke marijuana are more likely to try other drugs.

Basically what legalizing marijuana is about is legalizing the act of getting high, simply for the purpose of getting high.  The fact is that alcohol is not similar to marijuana in all ways.  For those who can control their alcohol intake, alcohol will never be a problem.  For those people who smoke marijuana, you have no choice but to smoke it to get high.

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