Opposing the Ban on Pot Shops: Special Town Meeting Article One

Is marijuana a “gateway” drug to the use of more dangerous substances?

No, it is not, as shown by studies in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2006 and the British Journal of Addiction in 2002. Over 107 million Americans have tried marijuana. Of these, only 37 million have tried cocaine, and only 4 million have tried heroin. Less than one tenth of one percent of Americans have used either cocaine or heroin in the last month. Frankly, the more common introduction to psychoactive substances for most people is alcohol, especially beer because of its low cost.

Will marijuana use signal an increase in crime?

Not if the experience of the first three states to legalize marijuana; Washington, Colorado, and Oregon, is any indication. In the words of Colorado prosecutor Jay Fisher, “Anarchy does not reign in Colorado because of marijuana legalization. The streets are orderly and peaceful. Hundreds of successful small businesses that employ thousands have been created through this new industry. The marijuana business, like any other adult consensual activity, is infinitely better as a legal enterprise rather than as a criminal offense.”

Are teenagers more likely to possess and consume marijuana if it becomes legally available?

No, they are not. A study published in June, 2016 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that looked at 200,000 teens in all 50 states found that adolescent use of marijuana had decreased since legalization.

Access to medical marijuana has had a positive effect on the overuse of opioids that is presently ravaging the country. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 found that opioid deaths were reduced by 25% in states with medical marijuana laws. The study showed that the reductions were greatest in states with robust networks of dispensaries.

One feature of the Massachusetts law is local option excise taxes on marijuana sales. If the town prohibits retail establishments, it will forego any potential revenue from that source. Sales tax revenues in those states with a regulated, taxed, and legal market for marijuana have been substantial. Colorado, with a population of 5.5 million, has garnered over $334 million from 2014 through the end of 2016. Washington, with a population of 7.3 million, has taken in over $481 million from June, 2013 – Mar., 2017. Oregon, with a population of 4.1 million, has received over $74 million from Feb., 2016 – Mar., 2017.

Prohibition (of alcohol) is widely recognized and acknowledged to have been a disaster. Crime, and especially organized crime, took over what had been a legal market and ran amok. Gangs and crime families grew exponentially with the revenue from illicit production and sales. The black market does not check ID, or restrict sales to adults. It does not even attempt to provide a safe or minimally harmful product. If anything, it is much more likely to offer one-stop shopping for illegal substances. Marijuana prohibition has been no less of a failure than was Prohibition. It has in fact been a mirror image.

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