Well, Kerlikowske’s got his own. It’s a new ONDCP “fact sheet”: Marijuana Legalization: A Bad Idea. What was a bad idea was putting together this “fact sheet.” Embarrassing.
It starts out with a discussion of marijuana current use by young people and how that relates to perceived risk of marijuana. Of course, always missing from that discussion is the salient point: What if the young people are right in perceiving that the risk of using marijuana is low? But then, that’s the whole point of the ONDCP. They don’t care whether the risk is real. They only care that it’s perceived, and they’ll lie like crazy to accomplish that.
Then they get into the Bullet Points.
Marijuana use is harmful and should be discouraged
- Marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and impaired cognitive and immune system functioning, among other negative effects.
“Associated.” Milk is associated with refrigeration. Liberalism is associated with Marxism and Socialism. Conservatism is associated with Fascism. The colors red and green are associated with Christmas.
- Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory.
First, you don’t have to get “intoxicated” just like you don’t have to get “intoxicated” with alcohol, which causes worse problems. Second, to the extent those are true, they are short-term effects, not long-term. Third, some of those are a feature, not a harm, of marijuana intoxication.
- Studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia.
Ooh, look â€” “associated.” And most of those studies have later been proven wrong by stronger and more comprehensive studies.
- Other research has shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. Marijuana smoke, in fact, contains 50â€70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke.
All right, this is one of those lies that needs to be put away and buried 6 feet under. It’s such a blatant lie. You know that they know about the Tashkin study proving no link between even heavy marijuana use and head, neck, or lung cancer. That’s why they don’t say “marijuana causes cancer.” Instead, they vaguely talk about “carcinogens” in the hopes that you’ll interpret that to mean that marijuana causes cancer. It’s still a lie, and may be worth another Data Quality Act challenge.
Legalization would lower price, thereby increasing use
- A recent report from the RAND Corporation, â€œAltered State,â€ discusses how legalization would cause the price of marijuana to plummet, triggering Current Use of Major Substances in increases in use of the drug.
I love the use of the word “discusses.” It allows this “fact sheet” to ignore that the RAND report also said that they had no clue what would actually happen.
- Illegality helps keep prices higher. And because drug use is sensitive to price, especially among young people, higher prices help keep use rates relatively low.
Relatively low? Right… And regarding price sensitivity, drug use is relatively inelastic in price sensitivity. Back when I was in college, people would pay $15-30 for an ounce of marijuana. Today, they think little of paying twice that for an eighth. At most, you might get some substitution with price shifts. If marijuana prices get low, then maybe some people would switch from alcohol. And that wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Use of the legal substances alcohol and tobacco far outpaces the use of marijuana, a strong indication that laws reduce the availability and acceptability of substances.
When Salvia was legal, use of the illegal substance marijuana far outpaced the use of Salvia, a strong indication that laws don’t reduce the availability and acceptability of substances.
What are the actual facts?
“The available evidence suggests that removal of the prohibition against possession itself (decriminalization) does not increase cannabis use. ” – British Journal of Psychiatry, February 2001.
“In sum, there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use.” – National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM). 1999.
“There is no strong evidence that decriminalization affects either the choice or frequency of use of drugs, either legal (alcohol) or illegal (marijuana and cocaine).” – C. Thies and C. Register. 1993.
“The reduction in penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use does not appear to have been a factor in people’s decision to use or not use the drug.”
– California State Office of Narcotics and Drug Abuse. 1977
Lots more here
- Our experience with even tightly regulated prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin, shows that legalizing drugs widens availability and misuse, even when controls are in place.
There’s a huge difference between misusing Oxycontin and misusing marijuana.
Tax revenue would be offset by higher social costs
- The costs to society of alcohol and tobacco â€“ substances that are legal and taxed â€“ are much greater than the revenue they generate.
And what has that to do with marijuana?
- Federal excise taxes collected on alcohol in 2007 totaled around $9 billion; states collected around $5.5 billion. Combined, these amounts are less than 10 percent of the estimated $185 billion in alcoholâ€related costs to health care, criminal justice, and the workplace in lost productivity.
And what has that to do with marijuana?
- Tobacco does not yield net revenue when taxed. Each year, Americans spend more than $200 billion on the social costs of smoking, but only about $25 billion is collected in taxes.
And what has that to do with marijuana?
Legalization would further burden the criminal justice system
- Legalizing marijuana would increase use of the drug and, consequently, the harm it causes, thus adding to the burden on the criminal justice system. Arrests for alcoholâ€related crimes, such as violations of liquor laws, public drunkenness, and driving under the influence, totaled nearly 2.7 million in 2008. Marijuanaâ€possession arrests under current laws in 2008 totaled around 750,000.
Wow, that one gets extra points for degree of difficulty. I think it was a double twisting backwards somersault. Not only did they conflate criminal behavior induced by alcohol with marijuana, but they actually used marijuana arrest rates that are based solely on the drug being illegal as a base line for estimating increasing arrests when you remove the illegality of it! So, not arresting people for marijuana will result in arresting more people for marijuana.
- Most people whose only crime is marijuana possession do not go to prison. A survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that 0.7% of all state inmates were behind bars for marijuana possession only (with many of them pleading down from more serious crimes). Other independent research has shown that the risk of arrest for each â€œjoint,â€ or marijuana cigarette, smoked is about 1 arrest for every 12,000 joints.
If that’s the case, then why keep it illegal? From that description, it’s like marijuana laws are either a lottery (certain random people have to pay the price for what everyone else is doing), or it’s used as a racist/classist tool to go after “undesirables,” while leaving most everyone else alone. This is supposed to be a vindication of current law?
Legalization would do little, if anything, to curb drug violence
- Marijuana accounts for only a portion of the proceeds gained by criminal organizations that profit from drug distribution, human trafficking, and other crimes, so legalizing marijuana would not deter these groups from continuing to operate.
It’s a good start. Then we can legalize all drugs and remove most of the rest of their proceeds.
- Under the most commonly proposed legalization regime â€“ one that imposes high taxes on marijuana â€“ violent drug cartels would simply undercut legal prices to keep their market share. With increased demand for marijuana resulting from legalization, these groups would likely grow stronger.
Yeah, maybe as strong as those big, violent tobacco cartels. Have you noticed that even with massive taxes on cigarettes, people still go into the gas stations and convenience stores and buy them?
Well, that’s it. Them’s the “facts.”
It really is embarrassing. And what makes it worse is actually seeing the United States Government White House seal on this. It drives home just how morally bankrupt our government can be, when it is pathetically eager to lie and distort in such a blatant manner.