Pubdate: Fri, 19 Dec 2014
Source: Springfield News-Leader (MO)
Copyright: 2014 The Springfield News-Leader
Author: Mark Weaver


Katie Wightman argues against marijuana legalization (Don't legalize 
marijuana in Missouri, Dec. 11) on the basis of legal, criminal, and 
medical consequences. Legalization is designed to remove the criminal 
consequences. This will free police, prosecutors, courts, and jails 
to focus on more serious criminal problems and reduce the expenses involved.

The legal consequences Ms. Wightman advances are increased car 
accidents. Colorado saw a decrease in car fatalities in the first six 
month after legalization compared the average per month from 2002 to 2014.

California decriminalized but did not legalize marijuana use in 2011. 
The legal consequences: A 4 percent fall in violent deaths. A 20 
percent fall in drug overdoses. A 23 percent fall in drug arrests. A 
30 percent fall in criminal arrests. A 25 percent fall in property 
crime. A 22 percent fall in school dropouts. The reductions were all 
greater than the reductions in the rest of the US.

A medical study in The Lancet evaluated the harms of using various 
drugs. The most harmful drug to users was crack cocaine followed by 
heroin, methamphetamine all scoring above 70 on the harm scale they 
used. Alcohol scored 55. Cocaine, amphetamine, tobacco, and GHB 
(gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) score around 38. Marijuana harm to users 
was 25 on this scale. Harm to others was also rated with alcohol 
scoring 85, heroin, 40, crack cocaine, 30, and marijuana at 15.

By far the most dangerous drug currently available is alcohol. 
Alcohol has many severe adverse social consequences including, 
murder, domestic abuse, rape, and auto accidents. Medical 
consequences include acute fatal poisoning and severe brain, liver 
and gastric damage. Alcohol prohibition was tried and failed. 
Marijuana prohibition has been tried and failed. The resources spent 
on marijuana criminal enforcement could be better spent on alcohol 
harm reduction.

Mark Weaver
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