Too Little Info Makes Reform on MJ Challenging
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Too Little Info Makes Reform on MJ Challenging
Posted by CN Staff on March 10, 2014 at 11:14:10 PT
By Jerry Large, Seattle Times Staff Columnist
Source: Seattle Times
Washington State -- And now into the haze. Washington took another concrete step toward legal sales of marijuana for recreational use last week, picking the first person to receive a license, but thereís a lot about this new direction thatís still hard to know. Decriminalizing marijuana sales and recreational use by adults was the right thing to do, but now the state has to deal with potential health and safety issues that canít be easily predicted. 
Will more young people get their hands on marijuana, and if they do, what effect will that have? Will users be more inclined to drive high than they are now, and what would that mean for safety? How fast will the illegal trade wither away? The questions go on and on, and the answers are rarely clear.Colorado and Washington both voted in 2012 to decriminalize adult recreational use. Sales in Colorado began at the start of this year, but Washingtonís start date likely will be sometime in June or July, so maybe we can see whatís going on in the Rocky Mountains and get a jump on things here. A few months isnít really much lead time, but itís worth paying attention anyway. The day after Washington named the fist dispensary, I saw a news report that Colorado is spending $1 million on television commercials it hopes will dissuade people from driving high. So, I thought we should definitely see how well that works. An Associated Press story said that in our state more than 1,300 drivers tested positive for marijuana last year, an increase of nearly 25 percent over 2012.Driving while stoned is illegal in every state, including Washington, and it should be. Driving impaired is dangerous no matter what causes the impairment. But it seems itís harder to pin down impairment levels from marijuana use. Like a lot about the drug, it isnít very clear how much of the main proactive ingredient, THC, signals impairment. Some studies suggest it takes quite a bit to come close to the effect of alcohol. And besides, the levels of THC that authorities use to measure marijuana use stay in the body long after a person is no longer high. Itís hard to tell with marijuana how and how much it affects people, and hard to measure its ill effects and its benefits. One reason often cited for the shortage of information is that under federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug, so it is difficult for researchers to get money for studies. Without sufficient information, policy makers face a lot of stumbling around in the dark. There is still a lot to learn about how marijuana affects health and safety, but as I said at the start, decriminalizing it was a good choice for other reasons. I have no interest in using it myself, but I donít want to punish people who do so responsibly anymore than Iíd want someone to stop me from having a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer when Iím watching the Seahawks.Arresting, prosecuting and jailing adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana distorts our justice system, wastes money and damages lives unnecessarily. One clear fact is that across the country, police arrest black users at a disproportionately high rate. In Washington, black users have been arrested at more than twice the rate of white users. Only one state, Hawaii, arrests white and black users at the same rate. Nationally, there is not much difference in rates of use between black and white Americans, though white people ages 18-25 report slightly higher use. All of that drug-war damage, and what to show for it? Now thereíll be some new tax revenue, a chance to get criminal gangs out of the selling business, and less disruption of lives in heavily targeted minority neighborhoods.Who knows what will happen going forward, but the challenges of making decriminalized sales work are less onerous than the impact of prohibition. We are not so lost as we were before. The fog will clear. Jerry Largeís column appears Monday and Thursday. Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Jerry Large, Seattle Times Staff ColumnistPublished: March 10, 2014Copyright: 2014 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by Swazi-X on March 11, 2014 at 01:00:35 PT
Questions, questions...
All of them misleading and designed to further confuse rather than to enlighten. Old school nonsense intended to keep the truth from being known.Google (or better yet, DuckDuckGo) these words:granny storm crow list 2013It's a list of studies on cannabis, now broken up into 4 parts because of the sheer amount of information. Spend a minute drilling down and you'll understand that anyone who claims "more studies need to be done" is - in the kindest terms - not doing their job in the research department. In the case of a writer parroting this drivel, the lack of understanding on the subject is reason enough to disregard their opinions altogether.The whole "more studies need to be done" schtick is straight from the prohibitionist's playbook as written over the last 75+ years by those making bank off this bizarre criminalization of the most beneficial plant known to man. It worked before the internet because it took much more effort to discover that the studies HAVE been done. It seems to work even now on some - mostly viewers of FOX news I suspect.Thanks to the internet anyone can learn the truth about cannabis. Once you've read a few of these studies it will become clear just how manipulated we've been on this subject, and that anyone claiming cannabis needs to be studied further in order for it to be used safely should not be taken seriously.
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Comment #1 posted by Universer on March 10, 2014 at 14:20:14 PT
That's About 12.5%
Interesting piece on HuffPo today about our overcrowded prison system. Shows that half of prisoners are in jail for drugs, and a quarter of those are in jail for marijuana.Just How Much The War On Drugs Impacts Our Overcrowded Prisons, In One Chart
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