While I understand the benefits cannabis might have for people suffering from certain types of illnesses, and I encourage this to be studied, problems appear when the general public starts using it.
Some will argue that legalization will eradicate this drug's black market, and that taxation of the safer, permissible cannabis products will help the state budget. Certain people also believe that this step will reduce prison the population by decriminalizing such "minor" acts as possession of marijuana.
Unfortunately, these arguments are faulty to say the least.
What makes anyone think that a market operating illegally will decide to go legit overnight? What makes anyone think that the black market will not simply increase? And who believes that people who dealt drugs are going to have some moral issues keeping them from committing tax evasion?
As for reducing the prison population, again, we are dealing with people who are already willing to face trouble with the law through their current actions, what makes one think this type of risky behavior will stop with the legalization of pot?
Add to all that the fact that marijuana is known as "the gateway drug", kindling the desire for the usage of stronger and more dangerous products, and there is much to be said about how this "legalize weed" project will end.
Would legalizing marijuana make the black market go away and turn criminals into law abiding citizens? The answer is very likely no. However, just like in the case of legalizing prostitution, the social costs incurred if its usage does become lawful will be pretty dismal. As past studies have shown:
“For adults, the baseline predicted probability of an individual having used marijuana in the last month was 8.6 percent. Legalization increased it by 1.37 to 1.40, an increase of 16 percent. The number of marijuana use days per month rose by 0.14 to 0.21 days a month, or 12 to 17 percent. Legalization increased the probability of adolescent initiation of marijuana use in the last year by 0.32 to 0.46 percent, a 5 to 6 percent increase. While this suggests that more adolescents experimented with marijuana, the data do not suggest that regular use increased in this group.
The authors note that the 6 to 9 percent increase in frequency of adult binge drinking, along with an estimated increase in the probability of simultaneous use of marijuana and alcohol of 15 to 22 percent, suggests that legalization could result in "considerable economic and social costs from downstream health care expenditures and productivity loss.”
While more analyses need to be conducted, it is unlikely they will have results that differ too much. It really is just common sense.
The biggest problem I have with allowing the consumption of cannabis, however, is that the rights of those not using it would be the first to go out the window. Let me explain.
You see, after having lived in Michigan, where marijuana usage is legal, I have come to realize that there really was no escaping it.
I was pregnant at the time, and was dealing with low blood pressure issues from well before. The capacity of this drug to dangerously lower my blood pressure further and make me dizzy was very surprising at first. No, I was not using it. The smoke was everywhere though, on the streets, coming from cars, in parks, in the ob-gyn office, and somehow, in my apartment. It seemed to be coming from the vents. This kept happening on and off for a while and it was quite overwhelming every time.
It was so infuriating that I, a pregnant woman who chose not to consume this drug, had to deal with its side effects. When my baby was born, this was kept happening. My child now had to face something that could potentially have long term health consequences.
Once it is legal, there is no hiding from it, whether you use it or not.
It takes over the environment, just like in the glory days of Marlboro and Viceroy, when you could not find a good place to hide from cigarette smoke. And just like with tabacco, it will take a long time for us to understand the effects of this drug on our bodies.
So, please, allow me the right to say no preemptively to all of this.