In the past few years it seems as though the train heading toward complete legalization of marijuana use in this country was full steam ahead. But in recent months that train has started to lose some of that steam with reports that have given even some of the most diehard liberals pause when it comes to the broad legalization of marijuana. According to Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, the legalization of marijuana was a “reckless” move on the part if its voters. The governor’s frustration clearly comes after news of the very dangerous consequences of the drug’s deregulation—traffic fatalities involving motorists testing positive for pot have increased a full 100 percent since the change in legislation. This despite the fact that Colorado’s traffic fatalities overall have actually gone down since 2007.
A recently published report by an agency working under federal grant in the state of Colorado has documented additional serious aftereffects caused by its legalization: The majority of drug arrests for DUI now involve marijuana; hospitalizations involving marijuana have increased 82 percent since 2008; consumption of marijuana by Colorado’s youth has increased; there’s been an increase in college students using the drug; the majority of drug related suspensions/expulsions has increased by 32 percent over a 5-year period, the bulk of which was for marijuana; there was an unprecedented 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits from 2011-2013; and nearly 50 percent of Denver arrestees have tested positive for marijuana.
Recent Studies on the Dangers of Marijuana Use
Add to this the recent findings published in the Journal of Addiction from Kings College London that not only found marijuana to be addictive and the cause of major mental problems in people, but it found that regular use by pre-teens caused intellectual impairment, lowered educational attainment and increased the probability that its use would lead to harder drugs. It was found that adult usage actually doubled the risk of being diagnosed with mental illness and increased the risk of middle-age heart attacks.
All of this information is causing both lawmakers and citizens to step back from what had been a prevailing mindset—that the broad legalization of marijuana was all but a foregone conclusion in this country. Many communities are now saying not so fast.
Florida voted down its marijuana legalization propositions, as did five other cities in Colorado itself, including Canon City, Lakewood, Palmer Lake, Palisade and Ramah. Even a Gallup poll conducted November 6th of this year shows support for the legislation is down to 51 percent from 58 percent the year before. This is even reflected in liberal support which has dropped 4 points from last year.
Support is falling because it’s very difficult indeed to deny the hard facts about cannabis, particularly in the light of Colorado’s difficulties. The science regarding the drug has been clear and unambiguous for years—it’s a dangerous substance. Along with ecstasy and LSD, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance (considered the most dangerous with a high potential for abuse). The unfavorable news coming out of Colorado and Washington State (which legalized marijuana in 2012) seem to be proving what has been long known by the American Lung Association, American Medical Association and other reputable scientists and doctors—legalization of a dangerous substance will cause more harm than good.
It’s not hard to see why many responsible citizens, educators, employers and legislators in this country are now thinking twice before voting in the direction of making marijuana more accessible. The potential risk to our future is proving to be too great.