Marijuana Revenue Comes with Costs

By Stuart, Mike | Sunday Gazette-Mail, February 3, 2019 | Go to article overview

Marijuana Revenue Comes with Costs


Stuart, Mike, Sunday Gazette-Mail


Since taking the oath of office as United States Attorney, enforcement and prosecution at the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia are "through the roof. Pure metrics of prosecutions are on record pace, not by a little but a lot. From Project Huntington to Project Charleston and record drug takedowns throughout the district, we have proceeded with a sense of urgency and the results could not be more certain.

Despite our efforts for a safer West Virginia, the drumbeat for marijuana legalization is growing louder and louder. Legalization efforts are in full swing. Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana and another 33 have legalized medicinal marijuana. Canada recently legalized government-distributed marijuana, and a 2017 Gallup poll indicated that 64 percent of Americans favor broad legalization. The public, however, is largely unaware of the ultra-potency of today's marijuana or new studies urging extreme caution.

Advocates and lobbyists tout the "game changing revenues from broad legalization but virtually no one acknowledges or, much less, wants to discuss, the significant costs, risks and uncertainties associated with the powerful and potent marijuana of today.

The most prominent experiment in legalization has been in Colorado. The Colorado experiment has not been a panacea - far from it - despite the loud voices championing the industry. In 2018, less than 1 percent of Colorado's tax revenues came from marijuana. And all those revenues were washed away by regulatory costs, public health costs and public safety costs.

Colorado's marijuana tax revenues do not nearly account for the substantial costs associated with increased crime, teen truancy, regulatory oversight, environmental and ecological damage, law enforcement and other costs to ensure public safety. The costs are real and far exceed all revenues.

The marijuana lobby is loud, very loud. Perhaps no group in the nation has capitalized more from the dramatic effects of heroin or opioid abuse than the marijuana lobby. By comparison, marijuana seems relatively benign compared to the effects of a needle in an arm or an overdose from heroin, fentanyl, or methamphetamine. But make no mistake, the ultra-potent marijuana of today is not the marijuana of 50, 20 or even five years ago.

The marijuana lobby and its power brokers want us to believe that marijuana is the solution to our opiate crisis. They are capitalizing on our grief by offering modern day snake oil as the solution to all our ills. Legalization of marijuana does not decrease opiate use. Studies show that heavy marijuana use leads to higher pain thresholds requiring more and more pain killers.

Many people are unaware of marijuana addiction. Yes- marijuana addiction. But in the public health and medical communities, it is a well-defined disorder that includes physical withdrawal symptoms, cravings and psychological dependence. Marijuana addiction is on the rise. …

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