Marijuana legalization has negatively impacted on the public health and safety in Colorado according to Thomas Gorman, Director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program. Addressing the Indiana Governor’s Task Force on Drug Enforcement Treatment, Gorman, an anti-legalization advocate, was very categorical in urging the state to say no to marijuana legalization legal in Indiana.
The drug-enforcement official’s presentation outlined the various marijuana related crimes and fatal accidents, as well as increased cases of homelessness. Not surprisingly, Indianapolis State Senator Jim Merritt, who views marijuana as a gateway drug, seemed to embrace the report. Cannabis in any form is not something that he would want to see children use.
However, new survey data from Colorado’s Departments of Health tends to downplay Merritt’s fears. The study reveals that current use of marijuana among high schoolers has not shot up. In fact, 78% of the students surveyed in 2015 had not used marijuana in the last 30 days, a percentage similar to (slightly lower actually) what was reported in 2013.
The decline in substance use also took effect with respect to alcohol and cigarettes among Colorado kids, according to the survey. From the random selection of 17,000 students from schools across the state, seven in every ten students had not consumed alcohol in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.
The positive data may have triggered the softening up of Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper, who initially was opposing legalization.
Meanwhile, California is following in the footsteps of Colorado with marijuana supporters seeking to win on the November ballot. Apparently, the California Medical Association and the influential doctors’ lobby group that have for years disregarded marijuana legalization are now in support of the initiative.
Nevertheless, the likes of Rachel Barry, a researcher at the University of California, sees different problems in legalization of retail marijuana. Barry argues that her state does not have proper preventative measures in place to protect public health. “Evidence from tobacco and alcohol control demonstrates that without a strong public health framework, a wealthy and politically powerful marijuana industry will develop and use its political clout to manipulate regulatory frameworks and thwart public health efforts that would reduce use and profits,” Barry wrote in a paper co-authored by coauthor Stanton A. Glantz, PhD. Glantz is a UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.
But in a quick rejoinder, marijuana supporters argue that legalization has been a success in many other states. A majority of them are citing millions of dollars in tax revenue among other benefits and certain research showing now spike in crime or abuse following legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational use.
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