For many years we all listened to the prognosticators and prophets of doom declare that society itself would unravel if we dared legalize cannabis. Like Chicken Little with an Energizer battery in its’ booty we have heard far and wide that “The Sky Is Falling” when it comes to legal cannabis for a long, long time. After four years of legal recreational use in Colorado and other states generating data, along with a 40+ year study of American youth called “Monitoring the Future”, that began in 1975, a clear picture has emerged. In a working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Harvard University and Western Carolina University looked at the impact of legalization, decriminalization and medical cannabis on society. The results, were very surprising to most…
“The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.”
– Thomas Jefferson –
By far the biggest result was, there were no big results. At least not negative ones. Teen consumption didn’t go up and violent crime didn’t go up. Overall usage rates were largely unchanged and quite frankly, the sky didn’t fall anywhere. In fact, practically every predicted event in the demise of society simply failed to happen. From the standpoint of the naysayers, legalization was the ultimate nothing burger.
The study’s results are not necessarily reflective of the drug itself, the authors cautioned. Because people already use cannabis regardless of its legality, relaxed laws appear to have only a limited effect. Plus, in the states where cannabis has been legalized, the authors suggest that enforcement of cannabis laws may have already been lax. “Our results do suggest that, given current attitudes and enforcement toward marijuana, further liberalizations seems unlikely to have dramatic affects in any direction,” they wrote.
The researchers did, however, point out many specific effects of the shift in cannabis policy that were positive. For example, legalizing/ decriminalizing cannabis appears to have reduced the use of cocaine and heroin among teens and ready availability has made drugs such as salvia and other narcotics seem more risky. In addition, researchers found that teens reported fewer days of illness and less fighting at school were cannabis laws were modernized. The results were not always positive, however, as a slight uptick in shoplifting and petty crime seems to have occurred at the same time. The relationship between the two is still being looked at.
All great truths begin as blasphemies.
– George Bernard Shaw
There is also now a cry about public traffic deaths and accidents associated with cannabis. If the data being used for this was in any way valid the statistics would be alarming, however it’s not. Again, Chicken Little proclaims that traffic accidents have doubled and it’s attributable to cannabis, they know because they tested drivers from accidents and traffic stops. That all sounds rather official and decisive to most people, and if it does to you, please allow me to pull back the curtain and reveal what’s really going on. Here’s how cannabis opposition regularly works…
The “statistics” are derived from positive tests from urine, blood and hair taken from drivers for cannabis exposure in the prior 15-30 days. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble and are stored in the system for days or weeks after consumption. These tests only determine the presence of cannabinoids, not the effect of them. In other words the test can only tell if you have consumed cannabis in the last month or so, not whether you are under the effect of it at all. While there are tests that can determine if you under the effect of cannabis but they are only being tested in select locations at this time and are not widely used. Since the tests don’t correlate at all with data collected from breathalyzers and do not represent current intoxication from cannabis (whether it could have had any effect on the accident in question), this is pure junk science plain and simple.
There are a number of statistics, however, that no one is really disputing. Like tens of thousands of jobs created, the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into state economies and historic unemployment rates. The cannabis industry is also unique in that as it produces economic stimulus within it’s own state that is so locally focused it provides more stimulus for the dollar than any industry except the Federal Government itself. In most anyone’s book that has to be considered a resounding success with very little negative impact on society, at least according to this study. Looks like it’s Cannabis-1 Naysayers-0.