Research out of the University of Michigan shows that cannabis and hallucinogenics have reached an all-time high among America’s young people. More young people now use them compared to any other time in history. Is this a good thing, or is it cause for concern?
The data shows that more than 40% of young people between the ages of 19 and 30 use cannabis at least occasionally. Forget the hallucinogenics for now. The cannabis numbers alone are alarming. In 1995, just 20% of young women and about 23% of young men were regular cannabis users.
Much of the increase has been credited to state-by-state marijuana legalization. That makes sense. Give people legal permission to use pot and they will. But again, are the higher numbers worthy of celebration?
Legal Doesn’t Always Mean Good
Undoubtedly, there will be some in the cannabis community that will celebrate the recent research. As far as they are concerned, more marijuana use is good. Even some lawmakers will jump on the bandwagon in order to declare how much their efforts have increased access to marijuana for the average Joe on the street.
All of this begs a rather inconvenient question: why is increased cannabis consumption a good thing? If the big jump is largely due to medical cannabis, okay. That is understandable. Using cannabis as a medicine is legitimate. But if most of the increase is due to recreational marijuana, and we celebrate that, we are treading on dangerous ground.
What If Marijuana Were like Alcohol
Many a pro-marijuana advocate has posed the question, “What if marijuana were like alcohol?” The question is usually posed in terms of regulation. If marijuana rules were similar to alcohol rules, things would be different. But let us put a different twist on that same question.
What if we suddenly noticed a huge spike in alcohol consumption among young people? What if those same numbers the University of Michigan identified with marijuana consumption also applied to alcohol consumption? I dare say no one would be celebrating the fact that more young people are drinking more often.
Common Sense Seems to Have Been Lost
It is easy to applaud sincere people who want marijuana to be researched for medical purposes. It is easy to applaud those who sincerely want medical cannabis therapies that work. But when medical cannabis is used merely as a way to get a foot in the door on the march to recreational legalization – and eventual hallucinogenics by the way – you throw common sense out the window.
Utah’s approach to medical cannabis is sensible. According to the people behind Utah cannabis pharmacy Beehive Farmacy, the state’s qualifying conditions list is fairly generous. Tens of thousands of medical cannabis cards have already been issued in the roughly twenty months since the program was launched. Lawmakers are committed to keeping their program a medical-only program.
Meanwhile, nineteen states have legalized recreational marijuana. Another four or five could join them later in 2022. To what end? To give people the freedom to use marijuana the same way they use alcohol?
We Know the Problems It Causes
The fact that legalization has encouraged young people to use marijuana at historically high rates isn’t really surprising. What is surprising is that we haven’t learned our lesson from alcohol. We know the problems alcohol causes. We are foolish to think that encouraging people to use cannabis will be a problem-free endeavor.
Our new, laissez-faire attitude toward cannabis is going to come back to bite us. Two decades from now, we will be collectively singing an entirely different tune.