Pot and Consequences

This election is driving me to drink.

If I were younger, if I’d ever learned to smoke and inhale, and if marijuana were legal, it would probably drive me to pot. Fewer calories.

Speaking of legalization…..Advocates and opponents of marijuana decriminalization have generally based their arguments on theory and supposition; they’ve exchanged “I think this will happen” scenarios, since there were no jurisdictions from which actual data could be gathered.

That has now changed. And the Shorenstein Center’s Journalist Resources has helpfully compiled studies reporting actual–as opposed to theorized–results.The compilation is timely: this November, voters in at least nine states will decide whether to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use.

Most states that have relaxed previous prohibitions have done so by making pot available for medicinal purposes. But the distinction between medical and recreation use is not as significant as we might imagine:

Most research on the link between marijuana and crime finds that medical marijuana laws (often abbreviated as MML) cause a general uptick in the use and availability of marijuana — beyond the patients who are prescribed the drug. “The legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes approaches de facto legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes,” write D. Mark Anderson of Montana State University and Daniel I. Rees of the University of Colorado Denver in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. By examining pre- and post-legalization in these MML states, they can “make predictions about what will happen in” states that legalize marijuana for recreational use. 

So what does happen when marijuana use is legalized? What about predictions that crime will rise?

In widely cited research, Robert G. Morris of the University of Texas and colleagues see crime fall in every state that has introduced MML. Using FBI data on seven types of crime across states with and without MML, they dismiss concerns about rising crime.

“MML is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault,” Morris and colleagues write in the study, published in PLoS One in 2014. That may be because people seem to use alcohol less when they have access to pot: “Given the relationship between alcohol and violent crime, it may turn out that substituting marijuana for alcohol leads to minor reductions in violent crimes.”…

Economists Edward M. Shepard and Paul R. Blackley of Le Moyne College find that medical marijuana is associated with significant drops in violent crime. Looking at crime data from 11 states in the west, seven of which had medical marijuana laws before 2009, they see “no evidence of significant, negative spillover effects from MMLs on crime.” Instead, they suspect a fall in the involvement of criminal organizations after marijuana is legalized for medical use and conclude, “MMLs likely produce net benefits for society.”

Looking at crime data before and after the depenalization of marijuana in the United Kingdom in 2004, Nils Braakmann and Simon Jones of Newcastle University suggest most types of crime, risky behavior and violence fall. But they observe a 5 percent to 7 percent increase in property crimes among 15- to 17 year olds.

Opponents of decriminalization predicted increased traffic fatalities from impaired driving, but according to the research, during the first year following changes in the law, traffic fatalities decrease between 8 percent and 11 percent.

Other findings: there is a modest increase in pot use among young people, but not older cohorts. Suicide rates fall. Racial profiling declines. So do opioid overdoses.

Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates.” Patients seem to be using these as substitutes, and marijuana is far less addictive and dangerous than drugs derived from the opium poppy.

And then there’s this: one study found that the U.S. could take in some $12 billion in new tax revenues by regulating recreational marijuana.

We sure could use the money.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll pour myself a drink……


  1. ” one study found that the U.S. could take in some $12 billion in new tax revenues by regulating recreational marijuana”
    Add to that — Billions & Billions saved by not making criminals out of citizens – lives destroyed.
    Billions saved in “War on Drugs” that is really a war on citizens
    NO Pot smoker should be jailed for Pot. We really have better things to do.
    Thanks Prof

  2. There are differences between medical Cannabis and personal use Cannabis, primarily applying the right strain of Cannabis to a particular illness. The strain matters because of the different components of each strain, like THC content, CBD, Terpenes and others.

    Cannabis has been studied more than your average big pharma drugs. There are over 3,000 studies showing the safety and efficacy of Cannabis, the vast majority of those being conducted overseas due to federal government disingenuousness of wanting the truth to get out. Take a look at https://grannystormcrowslist.wordpress.com/the-list/.

    Cannabis prohibition was born in racism and greed, and that is still the case today. People of color are locked up approximately four times the rate of whites while usage levels are about the same. Please see Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow” http://newjimcrow.com/

    Just last week, a Howey Politics/WTHR poll showed Hoosiers wanting medical Cannabis by 73%.

    It’s time to listen to science and reject Cannabis prohibition.

  3. Since our last address for voting was Arizona, we got to add our voice to legalizing pot in that state. Of course, I voted yes. MML is already legal in AZ so they just want to legalize the recreational use of it. Can we just end this prohibition once and for all already? After reading the following link, I just can’t believe the waste of taxpayer money for this stupidity.

    Margaret Holcomb, an 81-year-old woman from Amherst, Mass., grew a single marijuana plant in her garden, tucked away behind the raspberries. She used it to ease the ailments of old age: glaucoma, arthritis and the occasional sleepless night.

  4. In addition to all those reasons, nothing is more fun than getting stoned and watching “Reefer Madness” (just a little levity in these times of trial).

  5. This is among a long list of new tricks that this old dog will probably not learn but being a relative stranger to chronic pain who knows for sure what the future holds?

    It’s always been IMO much ado about nothing and it’s time for the electorate to grow up. It’s like alcohol – only not tolerated by a few- like gluten.

  6. If any of you have ever seen the government produced “educational” movie, “Reefer Madness”; your know the mental level and mindset of this government on the marijuana issue.

    Marijuana, even with the differences between medical and personal usage; it can be grown at home, preventing Big Pharma from benefiting financially. The use to prevent the terrible sickness for cancer patients from chemo treatments would probably be a primary homegrown, personal use. Cancer is rampant today with a major probable cause being the level of pollution we live with and – again – government intervention protecting businesses from being forced to spend the money to safely store or dump hazardous waste or clean up such businesses as our own local IPALCO. Allowing the heavy pollution to continue; increasing illness and diseases, also benefits medical care which has become another big business.

    It is always “follow the money” and this government is leading the parade. The only way we can rain on their parade is at the polls. November 8th would be a good place to begin.

  7. Interesting for two reasons:

    1.) In Portland (the real one, the one in Maine) where I live recreational pot has been legal in the city for several years after being OK’d by voters. I do occasionally pass someone smoking “brazenly” on the downtown streets near where I live but think nothing of it. This is Maine and while our governor is a total nutcase (OK OK not as right wing as Pence but a nut!) for the most part folks here are very laid back. Remember the Maine state motto is Maine: The Way Life Should Be!

    2.) Pot for recreation statewide is on our November ballot (medical was OK’d here in 1999, by the way) and all polls point to a win by 7-12 percent which is great. Medical won in 1999 by a 61% majority. My newspaper (Up Portland, the downtown paper) is urging a “for” vote and why not? Good for the taxpayer (our property taxes are among the highest anywhere so let’s get some help… any help!) and it seems not to do any harm at all. Besides, friends who do partake say it’s fun or relaxing or social or all of the above.

    Have I had a toke since arriving here 17 months ago? Nope but only because I been too busy and I just never did. I have not had a drink since arriving, either, but I have promised a group of good (law abiding) friends I’d join them for some pot brownies or a toke after the law changes in November. The nay-sayers need to grow up and my Indiana and red state friends need to come visit more often and legally enjoy! And I agree Sheila: I have lost a lot of weight and fit in 36 jeans since moving out here and there are no calories in pot. OK, OK, maybe the brownies, but not the fun part… and I hate walnuts and pecans which also have calories!

  8. Since this state bleeds red, I don’t imagine we will see legalization of pot for any reason at all in the near future. We will continue to arrest young people and ruin their lives by throwing them in jail. They lose their jobs while incarcerated and then the taxpayers take over financial support for their children and their children’s mothers. It all makes SO much sense, doesn’t it?

    Yes, I realize that they broke a law, but this is a ridiculous waste of time and money for everyone. Pence surely wants to keep his financial support rolling in from the private prison industry.

    I really like the idea that legalization could reduce meth and opioid addictions. That would be a win-win for all of us!

  9. Of course, the private prison owners don’t want pot legalized. That’s probably more than half their population right there. Their meal ticket. Like JoAnn always says, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    My friends in Colorado say that crime is down, revenue is up and they have provided funds for the schools. Once they’ve updated all of the schools, they are going to offer healthcare benefits for the residents. Hmmm, I guess that would rule out big Pharma needing to charge their customers so much for pain relief too. Maybe they could provide epi-pens to everyone free. And everyone can grow a plant in their yard.

  10. I am still undecided about legalizing pot pending further independent research. Not one of the commentaries offered so far today deal with the effect of its use on the human brain. No one can deny that it has a medicinal property for those in pain, but so has morphine, whose unregulated use is proscribed, and as to the 12 billion we will coin with weed’s legalization, why bother if we continue to have right wing politicians who divvy up such a trove to Wall Street and the corporate culture rather than using it for education, infrastructure and other benefits to the social good. To reiterate, I await the results of further independent research.

  11. I heard an interesting report on recreational marijuana. You don’t have to smoke it, and it doesn’t always have the same effects. There is marijuana salve and marijuana flour. And they say, depending on the type, some will relax you, give you energy, etc. And the Colorado stores look more like Apple stores. Sounds tempting, and I’m certainly no pothead.

  12. It’s always been a joke, like so many other things in this country, a combination of greed, puritanism, and racism.

    I haven’t smoked in years, but I can tell you that when I suffered horrible pain it probably saved my life. I didn’t become unhealthier, addicted, or dumb. I just had a major improvement in quality of life.

    Does anyone consider what an experience like mine does to respect for the law? Because I really have very little, and the hypocritical, authoritarian nature of drug laws were a big part of that.

  13. My current residence is Arizona, and as AgingLGRl wrote earlier, MML has been legal in AZ for awhile now, but MML in AZ passed only on the second ballot initiative attempt and by a very slim margin of victory. Of course, the sky hasn’t fallen, and the streets of Arizona aren’t filled with pot crazies ripping the social fabric apart (No, actually that is being done by the right wing nuts, I mean Republicans, that control all branches of State government here, as they do in Indiana. But that is a separate topic.).

    Complete legalization is on the ballot this year in AZ. The news reports I have seen show it currently losing by a somewhat small margin, and early balloting has already begun.

    What has totally pissed me off are the anti-legalization ads being constantly run on TV. As I previously wrote, the anti-legalization campaign in AZ is being financed by Insys Therapeutics, a drug company whose primary product is synthetic Fentanyl, and which is about to market a synthetic form of THC, the main psycho-active component in Marijuana. So far Insys has given over $500,000 to finance the anti-campaign. Insys claims it gave the money because children would be hurt by legalization.

    If Insys’ blatant attempt to protect the market for it’s new marijuana based drug isn’t bad enough, the anti-legalization ads being run here are full of blatant lies on what they claim has allegedly occurred in Colorado since legalization took place there: crime up, use by teenagers up, arrests for driving with pot in your system up, edibles being marketed to children, none of the new tax revenue actually being given to schools. All are outright lies or misrepresentations/mischaracterizations intended to scare the uninformed. Variations of the same lies, propaganda, and scare tactics the government has used against marijuana since the days of Reefer Madness.

    But let’s not change what we’re doing when marijuana prohibition is working so well for us as a country. Providing “customers” for our privatized prisons and our law enforcement industries, ruining lives especially those of minorities, empowering and enriching the cartels, helping drug companies increase profits. The list could go on. But probably enough of a rant from an old guy for one day!

  14. Gerald, they can’t or won’t do studies on the effects of marijuana until the Feds removed it from the Class 1 status or whatever it is that makes it a felony. As someone who uses it regularly, I’d like to get it legally. I’ve been using it since I was 16 so about 40 yrs now. I’m still healthy, sane and completely normal by most standards and have never been ‘caught’ or arrested. I have lots of trouble with alcohol because I am genetically predisposed to auto immune diseases and alcoholism to self medicate for those painful diseases. There’s my confession. I’d much rather have pot than alcohol.

  15. Wow, AgingLGrl; that took guts. As one who is predisposed to addiction, had a serious problem with alcohol 40 years ago, I only occasionally smoked pot, never a problem. I would much rather my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have access to pot than the easy access to alcohol. I believe it is alcohol which leads addictive persons to hard drugs much faster and easier than pot.

    I have spoken before about my grandson with disabilities due to his mother being prescribed medication to prevent premature contractions; there is still very little information about Terbutaline and the severe, permanent damage it causes both mothers and the fetus. If the FDA isn’t going to study these effects on a medication they have approved, they will not willingly study pot as a possible medical treatment for any physical problems. As I said earlier; people can grow pot at home, this would cut deeply into profits for Big Pharma – that ain’t gonna happen.

    This blog makes me want to sing, “One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line…” It is actually easier to recognize when or if you have taken “one toke over the line” than it is to know when you have taken one drink too many. Alcohol makes you believe you can keep drinking…and that you are safe to drive your vehicle.

  16. I’ve had a few surgeries and morphine was used as normal for people that have that type of surgery and oops, within hours, I was o.d.ing and feeling sicker because of it. It took me much longer to recover because I couldn’t find a pain killer to help me manage the pain. I’ve tried several types of pain killers for dental surgery too and man, I just can’t handle some of that stuff. I had DNA testing done recently and that proved that I can’t process opiods at all so therefore for me, pot works whereas other Pharma drugs just don’t. And alcohol makes me black out and keep going like the energizer bunny. That, frankly, scares the crap out of me. I don’t think I’ve found anything that helps me sleep better than pot without the hangover effect the next day. I have suffered for years with insomnia.

  17. AgingLGrl; something else we share, inability to tolerate drugs, allergic to all steroids, I need 2 mg of Valium twice daily to aid my imbalance which my system tolerates. Physician prescribed 5 mg to relieve stress after one family death and son diagnosed with terminal cancer; one tab turned me into a zombie. Overreaction to sedatives, morphine after surgery knocked me totally out for days, also cannot tolerate prescription pain killers, Tylenol and Ibuprofen works great.

    Actually; I had little reaction to pot the few times I used it recreationally. Physicians just prescribe whatever the books – or the Big Pharma suppliers – recommend; our systems are different so don’t all react as described in books. The same is true for pot and alcohol. But…the pot issue all goes back to Big Pharma, big money and government.

    BTW; saw a brief comment by Pence earlier, he THINKS Trump means it is the media rigging his election – not the polls. Pence thinks! This is a major media event.

  18. I agree with most of the comments above, except for Gerald E. Stinson, who is apparently a statistical outlier on this list.

    But I do have it on good authority that Bill Clinton once tried on a dress . . . . . . . . . . . . but he didn’t zip it up.

    And while it is true that (smoked) marijuana has no calories, its also true that it typically gives you a strong case of the munchies.

  19. BSH, the problem with those stats is that marijuana can be detected in your system for up to 30 days after consumption. Not the same for alcohol as I’m sure you are aware.

Comments are closed.