The science and findings behind why marijuana is a controlled substance has been entirely ignored in the debate regarding legalization. It is vitally important that our community educate themselves on this issue. Consider the following:
Marijuana causes distorted perception, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, problems with learning and memory including lowering IQ and causing amotivational syndrome where chronic and/or heavy use impairs motivation and social performance.
Is this what we want for our residents?
And what about the instances of driving while under the influence? It has been scientifically established that brain waves of 18-year-olds who smoke marijuana twice a week slows to the level of 8-year-olds for hours after smoking it.
Marijuana is addictive. When started at a young age, long-term use or chronic use leads to dependence and addiction. Youth who initiate use before age 18 are much more likely than adults to become addicted to the drug.
Legalization proponents would argue that it would still be illegal for youth. We have a history with alcohol that proves that legalized pot would still be available to minors.
We are already seeing news reports from Colorado of adolescents taking from their parents and giving it to unwitting friends with results of kids in emergency rooms.
Contrary to what is argued, there are very few people in state or federal prison for marijuana related crimes. In total, one-tenth of 1 percent (0.1 percent) of state prisoners were marijuana possession offenders with no prior sentences. Arrests for alcohol-related crimes far exceed arrests for all illegal drug use and certainly far more than arrests for marijuana-related crimes.
It is therefore fair to suggest that decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana will not reduce the drug's burden to our justice and public health systems with respect to arrests but increase these costs by making the drug more readily available, leading to increased use. This has proven to be true of alcohol.
As we have experienced with tobacco, the economic costs (health care and societal costs) associated with use far exceeds any revenue that may be generated by taxation.
Marijuana is a deceptive substance; it lulls the senses while setting the stage for cancer, an impaired immune system, genetic mutations and birth defects.
The false hopes of proponents that many problems will be solved with legalization just doesn't stand up against the facts.