Marijuana Legalization : Fortune or MisFortune?

Are we prepared to legalize marijuana in this country?

Legal Marijuana is Coming

Governing website map of pot legal status.

Currently 4 states have legalized recreational marijuana, and 23 states have created laws to regulate marijuana sales. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska have legalized it. Many of the other 23 are expected to legalize retail sales of recreational marijuana in the coming years.

Business magazines have already produced projected revenue maps for the states expected to legalize marijuana, showing hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue for marijuana sales. There are marijuana investment funds, and public stocks in marijuana companies. 

Marijuana can be Medicine... BUT

In some cases, marijuana can be a legitimate medicine, much like most chemicals we call "drugs". We still do not recognize medicinal use of marijuana at the Federal level, however, where it is classified as "Schedule I". Schedule I drugs have  "no legitimate medical use" and a "high probability of abuse". Heroin is also Schedule I.

For-profit companies (pharmaceutical companies) produce synthetic drugs very similar to illegal heroin, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone prescription pain killers, but those are not available without a prescription. They are controlled substances.

Where marijuana has been legalized, there are age limits restricting sales to adults, but there is no need for a prescription.

Marijuana is Profitable for Governments

Colorado collected over $50 million dollars in sales tax revenue from marijuana, based on a 15% sales tax. Washington State is expected to report much higher than that, with some estimates suggesting Washington State will collect almost 2 BILLION in tax revenue over the first 5 years of recreational marijuana sales in that state. Washington State is also the state that legalized alcohol sales so that just about every store in town can sell hard alcohol if it wants to. Washington State collects an estimated $35 per gallon tax on retail alcohol sales, one of the highest alcohol taxation rates in the country.

Website NerdWallet estimated Georgia would not
benefit much from tax revenue on legalized
marijuana, compared to other states.

It also seems that legal marijuana trade has reduced the price of marijuana, suggesting reduced risk translates into lower prices (and fewer drug dealing middlemen profiting, or adding unwanted chemicals or other drugs to the marijuana). Websites have reported that the average cost of marijuana in Georgia (where it is still illegal) was $319 per ounce, while legal pot in Washington and Oregon hovers around $212 per ounce, and in Washington DC (where it is legal to possess but illegal to sell) is highest at $390 per ounce.

Many cities in Florida are reportedly considering legalizing marijuana, but when you look closely at the decision-making in those local governments, they are actually more interested in moving the revenues from current criminal penalties (which flow to the State) into local government by switching to civil instead of criminal fines for marijuana possession.

Marijuana is Connected to Addiction

Despite the campaigns put forth by all of the entities profiting and seeking to profit from marijuana trade, we know that marijuana is associated with addiction. We see evidence every day in our addiction treatment clinics. Individuals seeking help with heroin addiction report using and having used marijuana.

Individuals in recovery who relapse and need addiction treatment again, frequently report having returned to marijuana use first, and then heroin or other drugs.

More Addiction Research is Needed

Research on marijuana has historically been very difficult due to the Schedule I status, which makes possession illegal and research difficult and expensive if not impossible.

Recently laboratory research on rats showed that marijuana consumption genetically altered baby rats born to marijuana-consuming parents. Testing showed that these baby rats that had been exposed to marijuana genetically, were then more susceptible to addiction to heroin.

Earlier studies showed a similar genetic tendency is passed down to offspring, for cocaine use. This seems to suggest that marijuana and cocaine influence genetics in ways that support addiction, when that connection is tested with heroin. Clearly these connections should be explored if we are to understand addiction and addiction treatment.

Since our society is seeking to legalize and profit from marijuana sales in the short term, more research is needed. Are we trading short-term tax revenues for long-term addiction problems? Will marijuana legalization lead to an increase in addiction to heroin and other substances down the road?

Why Do We Wait Until It's Almost Too Late?

Heroin addiction, which touches every community in America, is often the end of the road for those consumed by drug abuse and drug addiction. On the topic of heroin, statisticians are counting deaths by overdose, while for marijuana, they count the millions of dollars of profits and tax revenue.

Who is counting the severe costs of addiction on our society, families, and individuals?

Many of those needing help with addiction will only finally accept help (such as heroin addiction treatment, which works) only when faced with dire conditions of near death, jail time, or a situation with pain and no other way out. Many wait to long, and we count them as "overdose deaths". Can't we do more to get people into treatment, sooner?

Heroin Addiction Kills, but Addiction Often Starts with Pain Pills or Other Drugs

Even respectable, protected neighborhoods suffer the evils of heroin. Locally, the names Paige Thompson, Bobbi Kristina Brown, and Nick Gordon or Chelsea Bennet highlight a national awareness of Fulton County's own heroin issues, which we continue to work hard to address as a community.

In many cases the heroin followed abuse of prescription pain pills. What starts as abuse of pain pills leads to an addiction, which pushes the individual towards heroin. 

Get Help with Prescription Pain Pill Dependency

Prescription pain killers are not for recreational use. Improper use leads to abuse, and pain pill abuse leads to addiction. Prescription pain pill addiction can be treated - the time to get help is when a dependency is known, before the situation grows unmanageable, heroin starts to appear, and the risks of addiction grow quickly beyond anything ever expected.

Help for Pain Pill Dependency, Drug Addiction, Heroin Addiction, or Alcohol Addiction

Sunrise Detox offers a full spectrum of medical treatments for addiction, addiction disorders and alcohol dependency and addiction, as well as the concurrent medical and mental conditions often associated with substance abuse and addiction. Call any time 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, every day of the year. We can help, and will support you every step of the way toward recovery. Call us at 678-762-0370

by AddictionAwareness on Sept. 15, 2015, 5:16 p.m.


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