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Please begin with an informative title:

A call to legalize marijuana will be met with a series of predictable responses. Here is how you can respond to each.

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Potent Pot

Potent pot is more myth than reality.

However, even if one assumes that potent pot is a reality it is certainly nothing to be concerned about. Indeed, saying that potent pot is reason for keeping marijuana illegal is akin to saying that alcohol should be banned because gin has higher alcohol content than beer. It makes no sense. The pharmacological affects of consuming 1 "chemically supercharged" joint, as various US attorneys like to say, versus x number of "dad's joints" would be no different if the amount of THC consumed is the same. As for consumption, just as people do not drink the same volume of gin as beer, the higher the THC level in pot the less people consume. Hence, ironically more potent pot may be a welcome development. After all, one of the most prominent health effect related to marijuana, if not the most, is that it is usually smoked. The more potent the pot, the less people have to smoke to achieve the same high. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School concurs, so does Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California and so does UCLA's Mark Kleiman.

That said, if potency is the concern, then it should be legalized.  The only way to regulate the potency of pot is to legalize it.

Finally, the attempt to scare parents that have grown up on marijuana by distinguishing between potent pot and “your dad's marijuana” is too clever by half. After all, it begs the following question. If today's marijuana is truly different in kind from "dads marijuana", would it be ok to legalize "dad's marijuana", i.e., low potency pot?

Talking Points

1) Saying that potent pot is reason for keeping marijuana illegal is akin to saying that alcohol should be banned because gin has higher alcohol content than beer. It makes no sense.

2) If today's marijuana is truly different in kind from "dads marijuana", would it be ok to legalize "dad's marijuana", i.e., low potency pot?

Gateway Drug

Researchers have rightly noted that people who have try marijuana are statistically more likely try other illicit drugs. This gave raise to the theory that there was something about marijuana that encouraged drug experimentation. Marijuana, it was alleged, is a gateway drug. This, in turn, was given as one more reason to keep the drug illegal. However, the gateway drug theory has until recently fallen on hard times for lack of an intelligible mechanism. The problem was that there was no coherent explanation for why marijuana would lead people to experiment with other drugs. Without this explanation doubt was cast relationship being more than mere correlation. That said, in recent years researchers have breathed new life into the theory, albeit with a sociological twist. According to the new version, it is not marijuana's pharmacological properties that serve as a gateway, but rather marijuana's illegal status. Specifically in the process of illegally procuring marijuana, users are introduced to the criminal elements with access to other illicit drugs and hence it is the forged blackmarket relationship between dealer and buyer that serves as gateway.

In this context it should be noted that when the Dutch partially legalized the sale of marijuana, heroin and cocaine use went down despite an initial increase in marijuana use. Dutch use of hard drugs remains well below the European average.

Talking Point

Every time someone goes to buy marijuana they come into contact with criminal elements with access to other hard drugs. This is your gateway. When Holland decriminalized consumption and made it available in coffee shops, heroin and cocaine use went down.

Schizophrenia and Marijuana

Epidemiological studies have consistently failed to show any kind of positive correlation between marijuana use and schizophrenia. Despite a massive increase in the number of Australians consuming the drug since the 1960s, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland found no increase in the number of cases of schizophrenia in Australia. Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California similarly found the same with regard to the US population and Oxford's Leslie Iversen found the same regard to the population in the UK. According to Columbia's Alan Brown, "If anything, the studies seem to show a possible decline in schizophrenia from the '40s and the ‘ 50,"

Talking Point

There has been an astronomical increase in the number of pot smokers since the 1950s and no increase in the rate of schizophrenia whatsoever.

The gangs will simply move on to other drugs

The market for marijuana positively dwarfs the market for all other drugs combined and marijuana is far and away gangs' biggest money maker. The notion that the gangs would simply shift focus and thereby maintain the same levels of profitability is absurd. Comparable demand for other kinds of drugs is simply not there. Moreover, such an argument rests upon a mistaken assumption. Namely, it assumes that the sure size and scope of the marijuana industry is limiting the distribution of other kinds of drugs. The reverse is true. Marijuana profits and sometimes even marijuana itself are providing the seed capital the gangs need to diversify operations (e.g., cocaine, heroin, human trafficking and guns) and to expand those other operations. This is one of the main reasons why we need to nip this in the bud.

Talking Point

It is not like the gangs have access to capital markets. Marijuana profits and sometimes even marijuana itself are providing the seed capital the gangs need to diversify operations (e.g., cocaine, heroin, human trafficking and guns) and to expand those other operations. This is one of the main reasons why we need to nip this, pardon the pun, in the bud.

The Black Market will live on

It is one thing to illegally sell a legally produced product and make a profit, e.g., black market cigarettes. It is quite another thing to illegally produce and sell a product (e.g., moonshine) in market where there is legal competitors. The reason is simple. The illegality of the product means that your production and distribution costs are significantly higher. Also demand for your product is always going to be less. People want to know what they buying and consuming. So when given the choice of buying an illegally produced product versus a legally produced product they are going to go with the later. (There is one notable exception and that is when an illegally produced product is successfully passed off as a legal one, e.g., fake brand name goods). That is why no matter how much Canadians drank during the time of American prohibition, I am sure that it never crossed the RCMP’s mind that American moonshine might become a competitor of Molson’s.

Talking point

Coors executives do not worry about moonshine eating into market share. Demand for illegal products is not what it is for legal ones.

 

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to koby on Mon May 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Political Language and Messaging, DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform, and Community Spotlight.

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