Commentary

A New Study Shows Legalizing Pot in Colo. Was ‘Reckless’

By Cully Stimson | October 8, 2014 | 2:41pm EDT

The top Democrat in Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper, said Monday during a gubernatorial debate that legalizing marijuana in Colorado was “reckless.” His Republican opponent, Bob Beauprez, agreed.

According to The Huffington Post, Hickenlooper said that, “I think for us to do that [legalize recreational use] without having all the data, there is not enough data, and to a certain extent you could say it was reckless.”

Hickenlooper is right and wrong. He is certainly correct, and gets credit for admitting, that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado was reckless. As we have shown here, here, here and here, the negative social costs are proof positive that this radical experiment is not only reckless, but dangerous.

But Hickenlooper is wrong that there is “not enough data.” As former Obama administration drug policy expert Kevin Sabet has said, the trope that marijuana is harmless and non-addictive is a myth. His book “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana,” is a must-read for anyone who actually wants “the data.”

But now there’s even more “data.” A definitive study published this week by the Journal of Addiction by Professor Wayne Hall of Kings College London, shows that marijuana is highly addictive, causes mental health problems and is a gateway drug to other illegal dangerous drugs.

Hall’s research, conducted over the past 20 years, confirms what other studies have shown: that regular adolescent marijuana users have lower educational attainment than non-using peers, that they are more likely to use other illegal drugs, that adolescent use produces intellectual impairment, doubles the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia and that, not surprisingly, increases the risk of heart attacks in middle-aged adults.

Hickenlooper’s warning to other states should be heeded. Legalizing marijuana is reckless, no matter what the pot pushers say to the contrary.

Charles "Cully" D. Stimson is a leading expert in criminal law, military law, military commissions and detention policy at The Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Heritage Foundation.

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