(ANTIMEDIA) In the United States, there are many topics of debate regarding the legality of mind-altering substances. These topics include distribution laws, social and economic impact, and health concerns, among others. Even so, there isn’t a single item on the government’s list of forbidden substances that triggers as much discussion as marijuana.
For decades, states across the country have been working to legalize medicinal use within their borders and currently, 23 of them (and the District of Columbia) have succeeded in doing so. Still, even with 23 states to reference, the debate rages on.
A common concern among parents and guardians is that passing laws to legalize medical marijuana could somehow increase the chances that their children would experiment with it. Along with simple logic (that will be briefly discussed below), a new study, led by Professor Deborah Hasin of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, implies that these concerns may be unrealistic.
The research behind this new study was based on a 24-year span of data collected from surveying American 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, starting in 1991. Altogether, 1,098,270 students were surveyed across 400 different schools.
So, do laws allowing sick people access to natural medicine cause more teens to experiment with marijuana? According to the study, no. They do not. At no time has any state seen a significant increase in adolescent marijuana use following the legalization of medical marijuana. Further, the research also discovered that states with legal medicinal marijuana access had higher rates of use among adolescents before these bills were introduced. This could simply imply that these states were more casual or open-minded about cannabis to begin with and have begun to disregard the paranoid stigmas, hence their progressive steps in changing policy.
Quite frankly, do we actually need these studies and statistics to tell us that this concern is absurd? The rationale surrounding such paranoia doesn’t make sense to begin with and is perpetuated by people who don’t seem to understand how medicinal dispensaries work. Children are able to get their hands on marijuana so easily because of the simple fact that it is an unregulated market. The lack of regulation leaves marijuana and every other illegal drug in the hands of independent distributors and street dealers who don’t necessarily follow basic rules of workplace conduct. Meanwhile, at a medical dispensary, identification and prescription are mandatory for service, buildings are required to meet specific regulations, product and income is monitored, and children are not allowed inside.
In other words, if this concern were rational, it would imply that the best way to keep children from smoking cigarettes would be to take them from behind the shelves of legal establishments and put them in the hands of dealers on the street who do business by their own set of rules. The same goes for alcohol and other legal inebriants parents don’t want their kids touching. Certainly, the holes in this theory aren’t much of a mystery.
Paranoia, propaganda, and greed have only helped expand underground drug markets in the United States, as well as across the world. Putting drug manufacturers and dealers in cages doesn’t seem to be winning the “Drug War.” In fact, doing so has cost U.S. citizens upwards of $2 trillion in wasted taxes. The War on Drugs must be called out for what it is: a failure.
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