When it comes to issues like use of drugs and alcohol, I am torn between libertarian notions of allowing people to destroy themselves if they want to, versus the costs imposed on individuals and society. Every person whose life is limited by illegal drugs, or worse yet, who dies, is a loss of talent to society, and a loss to, if not a burden on, family and to friends. For years, those who favored marijuana legalization made up stuff about how safe it was, how it didn’t lead to use of other illegal drugs, how it didn’t pose a risk to teenagers and young adults, how it wasn’t addictive, despite clear research showing the opposite. Those were all lies. A recent story from the New York Times captures the toll that marijuana is taking on our country, especially our young people. This is an extremely dangerous drug, especially in its concentrated form. It causes clear brain damage and leads to mental illness. It causes a number of physical harms. It is not the benign buzz that the industry portrays it to be. And that is the real story–people make a lot of money from marijuana, and just like the alcohol and tobacco industries, these people don’t give a damn about the damage their product does. (NYT Story)
Alex Berenson, who was great during most of the epidemic until he became an anti-vax nut and liar, has written several books and articles explaining the true cost and destruction wreaked by marijuana. States are enchanted with legalization because it provides tax revenue; so they also care more about money than about the welfare of citizens. There isn’t a single good reason I can think of to encourage more use of this drug. At a minimum the states should make producers and retailers pay a huge tax and be completely responsible for all the damage their products are creating. And young people in particular need to be warned about the dangers from frequent and heavy use. This is just one more thing we are doing to destroy the lives of our children and the young adults we count on to continue improving our society and economy.
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I’m glad you gave Alex Berenson some credit. He took a lot of heat for his book — personal attacks mostly. And to now see these articles in the Times is pretty shocking. It should be obvious to everyone that marijuana use in teenagers is just disastrous. Their brains are not fully formed and connections are still being made and growing. Use in adults is probably not a good idea either, but at least they’re adults. I wish the government would be as serious about this as they seem to be about nicotine. As Orange Man Bad would say “Sad”
The dangers of using marijuana (and other drugs) must be weighed against the profound negative consequences of prohibition, which enriches some of the most violent people in the world and doesn’t work anyway. Even high taxes work somewhat like prohibition when illegal channels are cheaper than legal ones. Not an easy choice here. Maybe a publicity campaign, like the fairly successful effort against cigarettes?