On a monthly basis I speak to local communities about issues that affect our youth and young adults. This is something I do to give back to the community. Today parents are pulled in many directions. This makes it difficult for them to keep up with the research on everything that can affect their children. To help, once a month I host a free talk that anyone can attend.
My audience usually consists of parents and grandparents. This past week we talked about marijuana and its impending legalization in New Jersey. This is a hectic time of the year. Several people who wanted to attend couldn’t due to other events they needed to attend. I wrote this article to share with them the main points from the talk on marijuana.
I am neither pro nor con the legalization of marijuana. I would like to see more research before a decision is made either way. However that is not going to happen. Governor Murphy has made legalizing marijuana one of his main objectives. I believe he will succeed in 2020. My focus is on providing parents and community members with facts.
Marijuana Today is Different
Anytime I talk about marijuana with parents somebody inevitably asks me privately “Is it really harmful though? I smoked weed and I turned out okay.” I always thank them for their honesty and openness. I also always tell them “Marijuana today is very different from what you smoked as a child.”
THC is the compound that produces the “high” that smokers feel. A basic rule is that the higher THC content in marijuana, the stronger it is. Marijuana in the 60’s to 80’s had a 1-5% THC content. Below is a list of popular strains of marijuana and their THC content.
- AK-47: 20%
- Pineapple Express: 24%
- Skywalker OG: 26%
- Purple Kush: 17-27%
- Strawberry Banana: 26%
- White Tahoe Cookies: 27%
Clearly marijuana today has a much higher THC content. Basically today’s marijuana is significantly stronger than anything that parents smoked when they were younger.
Marijuana is Net Revenue Negative
One of the main arguments used for legalizing marijuana is that it will produce a lot of tax revenue. Legal marijuana advocates estimate that tax revenue for marijuana in New Jersey would approach $300 million. This is great for a state that currently has a $1 billion budget deficit.
However we need to put the $300 million in perspective. New Jersey’s state budget is $37.4 billion. Marijuana tax revenue would represent 0.008% percent of the budget overall.
Research has shown that for every dollar in tax revenue from marijuana states get, they spend $4.5 as a result of the consequences of legalization. This means that while New Jersey may get $300 million in tax revenue from marijuana, the state will pay $1.35 billion. Additionally these are extremely conservative estimates. The cost to taxpayers is most likely significantly higher.
These costs occur in health and public safety. States that have legalized marijuana experience increases in:
- hospital visits
- social services demand
- mental illness
Dr. Kevin Sabet is the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). Speaking on the argument that marijuana will lead to increases in tax revenue he states, “Studies show that the only people making money off the commercialization of marijuana are those in the industry who profit at the expense of public health and safety.”
Marijuana is Supported by Doctors as Medicine
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is a group of psychiatrists in the U.S. The APA reviews research and issues guidelines on the use of drugs as medicine. Recently the APA spoke on the concept of marijuana as medicine in October 2018. The APA focused on two common arguments for marijuana;
- Marijuana is effective in treating physical ailments
- Marijuana is effective in treating psychiatric disorders
Speaking on the use of marijuana for physical ailments, the APA states, “Much of the evidence supporting cannabis use for non-psychiatric medical diagnoses remains anecdotal and based on small, limited studies.” Essentially the APA is saying we need a lot more research before we can say confidently that this claim is true.
Recently marijuana advocates have been stating that marijuana is a good drug to treat psychiatric illness. The APA spoke on this topic and left no doubt about their stance. They state “There is currently no scientific evidence to support the use of cannabis as an effective treatment for any psychiatric illness.”
What do I do if a Loved One is Using Marijuana
If you have a loved one who is using marijuana please do not automatically assume that this is harmless behavior. Up to 10% of marijuana users become addicted. Marijuana use can also lead to other drug experimentation. Read the other articles here on NJFAI. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please reach out to us. We are here to help. Follow us on Facebook to remain up-to-date on our free discussions. We host these monthly. These talks are always focused on issues our communities face.