The powers of cannabis to heal are well documented, wide-ranging, and impressive leading many to regard it as a panacea of medical benefits. As wonderful as these benefits are, the economists who wrote the 2012 book “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know,” believe that the greatest impact of cannabis is yet to come.
An Exit Path, Not A Gateway Drug
Long thought of as a gateway to harsher substances, recent use by drug treatment programs has proven that cannabis is an effective treatment for weaning addicts off of drugs such as heroin and Oxycontin. It also minimizes most of the harsh withdrawal symptoms, reducing the chance of relapse. The concept of marijuana as a substitute instead of a complementary substance is what Jonathan Caulkins and his co-authors believe will lead to the greatest benefit of cannabis: the replacement of alcohol as the social inebriant of choice for much of the world.
Alcohol, The Real Danger
The social and medical dangers of alcohol use are long standing and were the fundamental reasons for its prohibition in the first place. The number of traffic accidents and fatalities each year along with overdoses and long-term health damage to organs, as well as families have cost taxpayers millions upon millions, but alcohol’s popularity (and addictiveness) have waned little.
Alcohol vs. Marijuana On The Road
All that may changes soon, as evidenced by statistical studies showing that in states that have legalized marijuana, there has been a 13 percent drop in traffic fatalities. This could be due to the reduction of drinkers in comparison to the increase of tokers, or could be due to the fact that the social scene for cannabis is a residential one, while alcohol is generally consumed at public venues. The cautious behavior of cannabis lovers versus the reckless behavior of drinkers could be another factor, one that even police have noticed.
The Fears of Big Alcohol
One primary downfall of alcohol is that it inhibits a person from effectively doing many activities, whereas cannabis is actually used to enhance the ability to perform many endeavors. Whether it be sports, fitness, creative thinking, parenting, or simply getting through the day pain-free, cannabis is the undisputed better choice. Alcohol has no positive side, and more people are realizing it. In states that have legalized marijuana use, there has been a decrease in overall alcohol sales, with
In states that have legalized marijuana use, there has been a decrease in overall alcohol sales, with marijuana taxes generating more revenue than liquor sales across the board. This turn of the tide leads many to wonder if the governments of those states may be seeing cannabis in a more positive light. It certainly has the liquor industry concerned. If marijuana acts as a substitute inebriant, converting drinkers into cannabis users, then the more healthy choice will inevitably win, drying up profits for the industry.
Alcohol Isn’t Alone In Its Fear
There are other industries that prey on the monetary influx of uninformed consumers, who are just as opposed to legalization. Besides Big Alcohol, the pharmaceutical industry, law enforcement, prison guard unions, the petroleum industry, foreign importers of hemp goods, the judicial system and other entities all have a financial incentive to keep the non-toxic plant illegal. Not because it is bad for people, but because it is dangerous. Dangerous to their bottom lines.
Jonathan Caulkins is the Stever Professor of Operations Research and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University; Mark Anderson is an economist from Montana State University, and Daniel Rees is an economist from the University of Colorado. The fourth author, Mark Kleiman is a UCLA drug policy expert who has been advising Washington’s cannabis legislators.
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