August 30, 2010 in Legalization
Yes: Legalizing marijuana would add revenue and let cops fight real crime
Proposition 19 allows police to concentrate on real crimes, unclogs courts and reduces prison overcrowding. The California Board of Equalization estimates legalization will raise $1.4 billion for schools, health programs and essential government services.
Proposition 19 opponents point to the societal and health costs of alcohol as proof there will be increased costs if marijuana is legalized. Truth be told, health care costs will go down when responsible adults are allowed to make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol.
Hospital beds are overflowing with patients with heart damage, destroyed livers, pancreatitis, diseased brains — costly and debilitating ailments caused solely by their use of alcohol. You are not likely to find a single patient in any hospital wing — cardiac, respiratory, cancer — with any ailment related only to their use of marijuana. Not one!
Contrary to allegations by narcotic law enforcement that admissions to emergency departments for marijuana are going through the roof, a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that “marijuana was by far the most commonly used (illicit) drug, but individuals who used marijuana had a low prevalence of drug-related ED visits.”
A 2009 study at Switzerland’s Luasanne University Hospital and a 2006 University of Missouri study independently found marijuana inversely associated with injuries requiring hospitalization. The Missouri study concluded marijuana use resulted in a “substantially decreased risk of injury.”
An August 2010 RAND study reported fewer than 200 patients were admitted to California hospitals in 2008 for “marijuana abuse or dependence,” but there were almost 73,000 hospitalizations related to alcohol.
Although opponents of Proposition 19 are quick to make misleading and inaccurate statements about a few studies they purport demonstrate the dangers of marijuana, even a casual reading finds the number of people negatively affected in the low single digits with the reports using scientific weasel words like “may,” “might” or “suggest.”
Fiscal conservatives should note a 2009 study in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal, which found health-related costs eight times higher for drinkers than cannabis consumers with most of marijuana’s costs due to its illegal status.
Noting that “research on medical cannabis patients has alluded to the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol,” a June 2009 Harm Reduction Journal study found “40 percent of participants reported using cannabis as a substitute for alcohol.”
Although driving under the influence of any substance should be avoided, a 2007 study of U.S. drivers published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health and a 2005 review of French auto accidents concluded that drivers who test positive for alcohol, even under .08 percent blood-alcohol content, were three to four times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than those who use marijuana.