A “Perspective” recently released by the National District Attorneys Association – on April 20th of all days – makes many false claims about the effects of marijuana and its legalization, relying on cherry-picked studies and outright conjecture that can easily be proven wrong.
The central theme seems to be that federal officials need to enforce marijuana laws across the board in all states lest children get the idea that marijuana is ok when it’s really going to kill them by destroying their brains and leading them to harder drugs. And of course – according to the prosecutor’s group – since legalization will clearly give kids easier access to marijuana, it needs to be eradicated until we can do years of studies and get full FDA approval.
“Legalization of marijuana for purported medicinal and recreational purposes has increased access by children. For all of these reasons, it is vitally important to do all we can to prevent access to marijuana by youth in America. Their health, safety and welfare demand no less,” the perspective says at one point.
The problem with this assertion is that it is completely false, both in terms of logic and available data. Study after study done on this issue has shown teen use either remains stagnant or on the decline in the years following legalization. If access is easier because of relaxed marijuana laws, then why isn’t use among teens going up?
This brings us to the logic angle. Selling cannabis from a regulated storefront where I.D. is checked can in no way make access “easier” than leaving marijuana sales in the hands of dealers – dealers who have no need to bother with checking how old their customers are.
“Legalization of marijuana for medical use and recreational use clearly sends a message to youth that marijuana is not dangerous and increases youth access to marijuana,” the perspective continues. “This is not like alcohol, which is also readily available to and a significant problem for youth, because alcohol use does not cause the same type of permanent changes to teens’ ability to concentrate and learn that marijuana does.”
“Alcohol use does not cause the same type of permanent changes to teens’ ability to concentrate and learn that marijuana does.” Think about that for a moment. To suggest that marijuana, which does not kill brain cells, does more damage to a teen’s brain than alcohol, a toxic substance that does kill brain cells, is incredibly irresponsible. In fact, studies have even shown that cannabis can aid a brain in healing from the effects of alcohol.
One has to wonder if these prosecutors are either willfully ignorant of the information that is easily obtainable about teen use and the effects of cannabis, or if they know the truth and are simply being deceptive for their own gain. Either way, prosecutors still hold too much power over marijuana policy to be allowed to spread false information without challenge.