Marijuana Discussion: A Follow-Up

Author: David R. Kotok, Post Date: January 9, 2018
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We thank readers for their diverse and sometimes intense responses to our recent comments about marijuana legalization in California and about the reversal of a US policy.

The link to that piece is here: http://www.cumber.com/california-high-on-cannabinoid-wellness/.

Many good points and counterpoints were argued. Some of them are quoted below.

Our position of supporting change is rooted in the failure of policy over decades. When a substance is illegal and desired, the price rises in a black market. High prices attract criminal risk takers. Murder and mayhem follow, as we see in country after country confronting drug cartels.

With increasing legalization we now see price suppression with marijuana. The cost of criminality attached to marijuana usage and distribution has been reduced or eliminated. Those who want to be “high” can do so without stealing a car or snatching a purse. Meanwhile, those seeking a medical benefit from cannabinoids may obtain it.

Americans are often polled about marijuana legalization. The overwhelming majority support it. And nearly ALL AMERICANS support medical usage with supervision and prescription. That is why 8 states now permit recreational use and 29 permit medical applications. Both numbers seem destined to rise.

We recall that in 1933 Prohibition (of alcohol) was repealed and alcohol regulation was delegated to each state. Criminal activity associated with alcohol became a closed chapter in the history of whisky and wine. Today both are supervised and regulated and generate tax revenue for many levels of government.

Yes, there are still drunken drivers. Yes, there is abuse. And yes, things are much improved from the machine-gun era of US history, which is now just the subject of films that appear on the classic movie channels.

Why not repeat this with marijuana? Take out the crime. Remove the financial incentives for criminals. And deal with drug addiction and substance abuse with new approaches.

Who wins? Government does, because it spends less on prisons and more to help citizens have productive employment. Taxpayers also win, with reduced levels of violent and invasive crimes. Who loses? Contract prison operators and criminals who prey on habitual users. Also players in the marijuana business that cannot succeed when the price is low and only succeed when artificially induced scarcity raises the price and induces criminality.

Other views are below. We are glad to have triggered the debate.

Bill A. wrote:

“David, I guess that at age 89 I am just too old fashioned in rolling my eyeballs on this whole marijuana issue. We have spent billions of taxpayer dollars on “the war on drugs” and the war on cigarette smoking, and now we are promoting the use of a drug which can and will be smoked. I can see the use for medical purposes, but what makes us think that usage will be controlled any better than that of opioids???

“My opinion is that approval for recreational usage is insane and will create both medical and safety problems.

“The New York Times reported earlier this week that in Colorado traffic deaths among drivers who tested positive for marijuana had doubled from 2013 to 2016 and that visits to emergency rooms for marijuana users had increased by 35%. What is going on among young people in this country is bad enough without turning out a nation of legal hopheads.”

Michael W. wrote:

“I agree with legal use of pot for medical purposes. I agree that arresting people for pot is a waste of time.

“But, I have seen the effects of prolonged use to be high, a complete lack of drive and motivation follows, ask Tom Keene, he said he watched it destroy lives while in college.

“For me, I watched my older son progress from pot all the way to complete opioid addiction, for him it was a gateway drug.

“I can have a glass of wine and be fine, other than medical purposes to use pot is to be high.”

Marc G. wrote:

“I have no expertise with medical marijuana but appreciate its efficacy.

“I am antagonized by the wave of legalization for recreational use. The data from Colorado is highly disturbing to me as a parent and a grandfather. The Obama administration left us in a dangerous place in relation to drug usage.

“We need a national discussion; I support our AG but sense that you do not.”

Dr. John S. wrote:

“I notice you don’t quote any peer-reviewed medical studies regarding medical marijuana. I also notice that you blur the lines between the labels of recreational use and “medical” use. Why? You have “seen it work for seizures”? This is a silly statement. It’s not scientific. We have effective treatment for seizures. Perhaps what you saw was efficacy in the case of non-epileptic seizures? Poor.”

Lee D. wrote:

“ ‘[Kotok wrote:] By yearend, 8 states will have recreational Marijuana; 29 will have medical usage. Meanwhile a reversal of established policy gives an “in your face” to the majority of the country. That is the result of the latest gesture by the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

‘CNN summarized as follows: “In a seismic shift, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce (he subsequently did -Ed) Thursday that he is rescinding a trio of memos from the Obama administration that adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.” CNN goes on to say, “While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law.” ’

“CNN’s take misses the mark as usual. The responsibility for law resides in Congress. Congress can change the law any time they so decide. All Sessions did is bring the Justice Department back to enforcing existing law. Policies of the previous administration to circumvent and manipulate government in unconstitutional ways were always going to be temporary as long as no laws were changes to make them permanent. This is a key feature of the ‘Swamp’ that Trump supporters are so adamant about fixing.

“Thanks for the quoting of my response to a previous post. Glad your family has experienced the benefits of the rapidly progressing marijuana derivatives evolution. I assume you are familiar with the CBD (Cannabidiol) derivative which is virtually devoid of the psychoactive components and yet seems to have beneficial effects for pain management, and joint comfort (in my own experience). We live in a time a rapid change. Let’s do our best to support legal changes that enable further progress and definitively leave behind the manipulations used by weak leaders and timid legislators that failed to really address problems, swept too many things under the rug and repeatedly ‘kicked the can down the road’.

“PS – appreciate the link to CB1 Capital LLC Newsletter – had not come across them before.”

Frank M. wrote:

“I suspect one of the first Sessions targets will be a local credit union in Seattle that accepts deposits and has accounts with marijuana dealers licensed by the state.”

David B. wrote:

“My daughter lives in Colorado with three dogs. Her oldest dog has lived on for many years – he’s a big bull dog and 13 years – with various tumors that she has treated with a special kind of medical marijuana that they sell in Colorado dispensaries. To the surprise of the Vet the tumor has shrunk and gone away and the dog acts in many ways like a younger dog despite his size and weight. If you believe Rebecca the government has research confirming the cancer treating properties of special forms of cannabis and suppresses it.

“It is a shame that we are happy to have massive fire power on untrained individuals, beer and liquor openly available, but can’t let a rather benign drug be treated with the same understanding.”

Dale K. wrote:

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