Marijuana news from contributing authors and staff writers on the latest in marijuana and medical marijuana
Last week, Republican presidential candidates were asked about their positions on marijuana policy reform. While most of them responded that they would let states determine their own policies, they also stated their opposition to making marijuana legal for adults and revealed their serious misunderstandings of the relative harms of marijuana compared to alcohol and other drugs.
The controversial cash crop is set to be one of the hot button topics in the lead up to next year’s presidential election. There are ballot initiatives for marijuana reform proposed in 16 states. According to advocates, support for the decriminalization of marijuana among voters, especially young or first-time voters, is estimated at up to 60 percent.
The GOP’s position on legalization has generally upheld a longstanding US prohibition of drugs, which is presented as an effort to fight crime and curtail the social costs of drug use.
“Much of the war on drugs comes from a conservative orthodox view on this, which says the way to reduce crime and drug use is to find and punish users,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policy for the Marijuana Policy Project. “What we can learn from successful programs to reduce alcohol and smoking is that we’ve actually reduced the use of these drugs not by arresting drinkers and smokers, but by treating it as a public health issue — regulating how it’s sold, advertised and taxed.”
“Colorado is experimenting with that approach and making tax revenue from the sale of marijuana, which is going back into school programs and the community,” he added. “It’s not going to murderous drug cartels.”
Riffle added that he was disappointed that “scientifically incorrect” information mentioned during the debate was not challenged, particularly Christie’s assertion that marijuana is a gateway drug.
“It’s troubling to have presidential candidates to be so misinformed on marijuana,” said Riffle. “The Institute of Medicine, the nation’s foremost authority on science, medicine, and health, has said there’s absolutely nothing about the physiological properties of marijuana that leads people to use other drugs.”
Riffle noted that he agrees with former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina’s comment during the debate that young people are being misled “when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer,” but not for the reasons she implied.
“It’s not like having a beer,” he said. “It’s safer. And there’s an abundance of medical and scientific research that has shown this.”
Here is the portion of the debate concerning marijuana policy: