Pubdate: Thu, 07 Jul 2016
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2016 Las Vegas Review-Journal
Author: Jim Hartman


Steve Sebelius's July 1 column ("Asking the right question on 
marijuana") correctly reported on Gov. Brian Sandoval's opposition to 
the legalization of marijuana in Nevada; noted that more young people 
would likely try the drug if it were legalized; acknowledged that 
workplace issues would increase; and admitted that a "black market" 
would still exist after legalization. On those points we agree. 
However, Mr. Sebelius's conclusion frames a "seminal issue" narrowly 
for voters, focusing on his belief in the right of someone to use 
marijuana in a "free society." He reaches that result without any 
regard to the effect of legalization on others.

The evidence is clear that marijuana is not safe. With marijuana's 
new high potency levels - it's up to seven times more potent than it 
was in the 1970s - about one in six marijuana users who starts as a 
teenager becomes physically dependent. And, increasingly, medical 
studies show a strong correlation between regular marijuana use and 
severe mental health issues.

Who pays for needed drug treatment facilities and mental health programs?

There are also serious implications for public safety. In the year 
after marijuana was legalized in Colorado, marijuana-related 
emergency room visits increased nearly 30 percent, as did traffic 
deaths and impaired driving arrests. Who pays these costs and who 
suffers from these deaths and injuries?

These are just the economic impacts. They do not include the human 
cost to the user's own family and to others. Both the economic and 
human costs need to be considered in re-framing a fair "seminal 
question" from Mr. Sebelius on marijuana legalization.

Jim Hartman, Genoa

The writer is president of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy.
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