7 myths of marijuana legalization
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By Keith Graves
I admit I’m a bit biased when it comes to the topic of marijuana legalization. I’ve been a police officer for 25 years and have spent a good amount of my career working narcotics. As a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor, I’ve spent the last 15 years teaching anyone who would listen about the dangers of drugs and how to conduct drug investigations.
I’ve seen people killed because of marijuana — through drug rip-offs as well as DUI accidents — and I’ve seen people lose everything through marijuana addiction.
In 1996 I was a detective assigned to a narcotics unit. That same year, California became the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Since then, I’ve watched marijuana use soar among our population and I’ve seen the potency of marijuana explode exponentially.
I had a hard time expressing why legalizing marijuana was bad. I knew it in my core because I was seeing the horrible side effects of marijuana legalization on a daily basis. I had a hard time, that is, until I read a book by Kevin Sabet entitled Reefer Sanity.
In this book, Sabet reviews the 7 great myths of legalization. From my own personal experience, I could relate to what Sabet was writing about. But what Sabet does — which I couldn’t express myself at the time — is back his statements with scientific research and case studies.
I encourage all officers to become familiar with these 7 myths. We are going to need it if we are going to keep our communities safe from drug legalization. What follows is a mix of what Sabet writes in Reefer Sanity along with my own experience with the legalization of marijuana in California.
Myth 1: Marijuana is Harmless and Non-addictive
Now everyone smokes a blunt (a marijuana-rolled cigar), which is averaging close to a gram of marijuana. Smoking one blunt today, at 20 percent THC, is like smoking 16 old-school joints. As Sabet puts it, it’s like going from one light beer to a dozen shots of vodka.
Sabet also points out, “Marijuana is not as addictive as drugs like tobacco or heroin, but its addiction rate of one in every eleven adults who have ever tried it — or one in six adolescents who have ever used it — should give us pause.”
Myth 2: Smoked or Eaten Marijuana is Medicine
We’re also beginning to see a link between medical marijuana and increased drug use in some states. The study is contained in: (O’Connell, T et al. (2007). Long-term marijuana users seeking medical cannabis in California (2001-2007).
Another caveat from his book: As THC levels rise, CBD (the part of the plant having a medicinal value) plummets. So the medical value of marijuana is decreasing as it becomes more potent.
There is also medication available, such as Marinol that contains the medicinal qualities of marijuana without getting high.
Myth 3: Countless People are Behind Bars Simply for Smoking Marijuana
According to leading drug policy researchers in the US, your chance of being arrested (for a marijuana related offense) is one in every 11,000 to 12,000 joints smoked.
Myth 4: The Legality of Alcohol and Tobacco Strengthen the Case for Legal Marijuana
In many respects, because of its prevalence, alcohol is far worse than any of our currently illegal drugs, including crack. For example, alcohol causes much more violence and murder in our society than any other drug.
Myth 6: Portugal and Holland Provide Successful Models of Legalization
1.) Successful prevention programs promote parental monitoring of children, bonding between parents and children, participation and success in school and extracurricular activities.
These are just a few tidbits Sabet covers in his book. If you’re as concerned as me about the path society is taking toward the legalization of drugs, you must educate yourself. The public values your opinion as a police officer. If you give up, they will too and we all lose.
If you can use some of these talking points to show the foolishness of marijuana legalization, then you can sway public opinion and keep us on the right path.
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