Rutgers Marijuana Legalization Seminar Will Ignore the Results of Legalization

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On September 6, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University in New Jersey will host a seminar entitled, “Perspectives on Cannabis Legalization on Youth and Emerging Adults.” Theodore Petti, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, is organizing the conference in advance of the expected legalization of marijuana in the Garden State.

He spoke with Rutgers Today about how he feels the legislation to end adult marijuana prohibition will harm society.

To be clear, he delivered these remarks today, in 2017—after eight states have already legalized, as if we don’t have plenty of evidence to disprove nearly everything he claims legalization will do. You do have to give him some sort of credit for cramming so much reefer madness into such a short interview.

Here are the lowlights:

1) “This legislation will promote increased acceptance that marijuana is harmless because it is legal.”

WRONG: Even before legalization, Americans were recognizing that marijuana is far safer than alcohol or tobacco. Its legal status doesn’t change its pharmacology.

2) “We have seen increases in marijuana use by youth in states that passed legislation.”

FALSE: State health officials in Colorado, Washington and Oregon have all stated there have been no statistically-significant differences in youth marijuana use post-legalization.

3) “We also want to ensure that marijuana is available for research into conditions present in children and adolescents and is available for evidence-based treatment when appropriate for medical conditions.”

DOUBTFUL: Marijuana cannot be adequately researched because it is a Schedule I substance under federal law. If Petti is supporting Sen. Booker’s bill to deschedule marijuana, I’d believe this statement.

4) “… it also has resulted in a low rate of diversion to youth and others, who are turning instead to synthetic cannabinoids, such as K2 or Spice, or to marijuana that may be adulterated with PCP, formaldehyde or other toxic substances.”

INDEED: This is an argument for legalization, isn’t it? You’re stating that your prohibition policy now is driving teens toward more harmful substances or marijuana products that aren’t tested and inspected, like they are in Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

5) “…the potency has increased significantly since the legalization of medical marijuana in California in 1996.”

TRUE: This might be scary if marijuana were toxic, like alcohol, and higher potencies could kill you. Since it is non-toxic, its higher potency is irrelevant, save for it getting you just as high with less smoking, which is actually a benefit for the lungs.

6) “Adulterated marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids can…”

…do all sorts of bad things to you that legalized, regulated, tested, inspected and labeled marijuana cannot.

7) “Diversion of marijuana to youth from eligible purchasers has been inadequately addressed and leads to easy access for young people…”

INCORRECT: Surveys of youth in Colorado, Washington and Oregon show them to have no significantly greater access to cannabis than pre-legalization. Stings conducted with young-looking buyers trying to get pot shops to sell them weed without checking ID have almost a perfect record in NOT allowing kids access (and far better stats than the sellers of alcohol).

8) “…who are showing up in the emergency room.”

MISLEADING: Indeed, there are increased calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms that mention marijuana… because under legalization, now the patient CAN mention marijuana without having a cop called on them. I’ll bet calls for “uhm… gee… I guess… uh… maybe it was food poisoning?” have gone down.

9) “…decrease early initiation of youths’ use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis…”

GOOD IDEA: Which is why it’s notable that in Washington, there’s been no change in the rate of students who start marijuana use before age 13.

10) “…before easier access is put into legislation, more openly available and deemed as acceptable.”

WRONG: Again, access does not go up for kids. As for “acceptable,” kids are showing less fear and disapproval of marijuana because they used to be told it was the deadly dangerous gateway drug to heroin that would turn them into schizophrenic loser dropouts with man-boobs (boys) or loose morals (girls). Now that they can see healthy, successful adults using it recreationally and sick and disabled people using it as medicine. Kids recognize we’ve been lying to them, and they’re adjusting their perceptions accordingly.

11) “…studies that strongly suggest that pregnant women who use marijuana put their fetuses at risk for cognitive problems…”

INCONCLUSIVE: The data on cannabis use during pregnancy is limited and contradictory. I figure if maternal marijuana use was really a problem, we’d see a serious developmental deficit when comparing children of Rastafarian moms to non-smoking controls. We don’t.

12) “States where marijuana has been decriminalized or legalized for recreational use have given too little support to education about the effects of marijuana on the developing brain.”

GIMME A BREAK: Every state that has legalized has set the age at 21 and committed resources to highly visible campaigns discouraging youth use, focusing on the developing brain issue. My question is how Petti thinks prohibition is going to help that issue any.

13) “…and allocate funds to education and treatment as part of the legislation.”

DONE: Every state that has legalized has done this. In fact, we legalizers put more of that money toward those ends than the legislatures eventually allocate.

14) “…commercialization of marijuana is expected to result in advertising and associated marketing efforts…”

AS IF: Advertising for marijuana is more restricted than advertising for strip clubs.

It’s remarkable that a professor at a medical school could so blindly deny the scientifically-verified realities of marijuana legalization.

This is what our opponents are reduced to in a nation, where over 60 percent of us support legalization and over 90 percent of us support medical marijuana.

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