In 10 years of marijuana activism and six years in the marijuana media, I’ve reported on a whole lot of reefer madness. But the recent response by the head of the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM, or if you prefer, “Big Rehab”) set a new standard for how low prohibitionists will go to frighten the public.
Dr. Stuart Gitlow — which, really, should be the name of a funk deejay character in an Austin Powers movie — took to the website of CNN to offer his opinion on the dangers of marijuana legalization. Many prohibitionist dinosaurs are already shrieking about the New York Times calling for national legalization, with poll after poll and state after state turning against the Drug War, but with this op-ed, Dr. Gitlow (and git back up again!) cranks the propaganda up to 11.
“But with marijuana, people can also experience long-term psychiatric disease, and those who use it heavily prior to age 25 are more likely than nonusers to experience a drop in IQ,” Dr. Gitlow (say it loud!) preaches. “Let me repeat that for emphasis: If you use marijuana heavily prior to age 25, your brain won't work anymore — not as it did originally.”
Dr. Gitlow (take it to the bridge!) is referencing that New Zealand study that said teen pot smokers lose 8 IQ points in adulthood. Forget that it was soon debunked by a researcher who found socioeconomic factors were as reasonably to blame. Disregard the fact that since 1950, IQ scores have risen dramatically worldwide, just as marijuana use has skyrocketed. It doesn’t matter; nobody is calling for the legalization of teenage pot smoking!
“As with tobacco, a significant number of people who try marijuana will become addicted. Research says that one in six teens who start using marijuana will become addicted,” Dr. Gitlow (like a sex machine!) wails. “Will you die young, as with tobacco? We'll have to wait a generation to find out, just as we did with tobacco. Our children will be the guinea pigs.”
Yeah, too bad legalization invents marijuana. If only it had been smoked in far greater amounts a generation ago than it is today, we might already know whether that generation died young. This guy’s on something far more powerful than THC to believe this dreck.
Is marijuana addictive? Yeah, about as addictive as caffeine. The symptoms for caffeine or marijuana withdrawal in the DSM-V (the psychiatric manual) include “irritability, anger or aggression; nervousness or anxiety; sleep difficulties (insomnia); depressed mood; and or physical symptoms such as stomach pain, shakiness or tremors, and headache.”
Tobacco cigarettes lead to dependence in about one in three people who try them. Marijuana cigarettes lead to dependence in about one in 11 people who try them. Ask anyone who has quit smoking how easy that was compared to laying off weed for a month to pass a piss test.
Dr. Gitlow (can I play?) finishes off the reefer madness with that old classic, The Sabet Conjecture — the idea that making no tax money on pot is better than making some. “As a society, we will not make money — we will likely lose money, just as we do with tobacco and alcohol,” Dr. Gitlow (ow!) writes. “Taxpayers will need to pay more in order to make up for the productivity and illness-related losses that marijuana taxes won't come close to covering.”
Sure, alcohol and tobacco cost society ten times what they bring in for tax revenue, but that’s because they lead to violence and addiction, cirrhosis and emphysema, and drunk driving and cancer, not because they are legal. Ever notice how prohibitionists never tell you what marijuana toking costs in productivity and illness right now? Because then you’d realize, hey, we’re already paying marijuana costs and taking in zero tax dollars and wasting more trying in vain to stop it!
Colorado’s racked up about $30 million in tax revenues and even Washington’s botched roll-out has racked up over $600,000. Does anyone think there has been $300 million in social costs, or even six million, or even enough to offset what we’re not spending on arrests, jails, courts, public defenders, probation officers, piss tests, and rehabs?
I gotta hand it to him. That Dr. Gitlow is one reefer mad mother… (shut your mouth!) I’m just talkin’ ‘bout ASAM. (We can dig it.)