With a little over a month to go until voters in Michigan head to the ballot box to decide on recreational cannabis legalization, opponents of the measure are in the midst of a media blitz.
In a series of press conferences held in the state earlier this month, prosecutors, law enforcement and others who oppose legalization made their case for why Michigan voters should not approve the measure. Not surprisingly, their case is full of conjecture, fear mongering and outright falsehoods.
One of the favorite falsehoods of prohibitionists continues to be that legalization will increase access to cannabis for young people. Joan Hoganson, the director of the Kent County, Michigan Health Department’s Community Wellness Division, said this will lead to increased teen use and that efforts to help children grow up healthy and succeed in life “will be sabotaged if we make recreational marijuana a possibility for young people whose brains are still in formation.”
Before we get to the stats that prove this is a lie, let’s examine that last sentence. Legalization will make “recreational marijuana a possibility for young people.” This notion that the only thing standing between kids and marijuana is this magical wall called “legality” is ridiculous. Most people who sell marijuana illegally are not going to grill their customers on their age. Most teens know someone they can buy weed from, no ID required.
Legal and regulated cannabis shops, however, must check IDs if they hope to avoid fines and keep their license to sell cannabis. This bars them as a route for teens to buy cannabis. Teens can still get marijuana of course, illegally, from adults or fellow teens – just as they can under prohibition.
From multiple studies and surveys, we know that teen use remains steady or declines under recreational marijuana legalization and that teens find it much easier to get marijuana illegally than it is to get alcohol – a legal substance.
“We encourage an open and honest debate on this important issue,” The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spokesman John Truscott said.
“Unfortunately, that’s not what we see from some who have chosen to confuse the public with dubious or contested statistics rather than discuss facts. The fact is that marijuana prohibition has been a complete failure and a waste of law enforcement resources – regulation and taxation provide a far better alternative.”
Prohibitionists are losing the war over marijuana and most of them are well aware of it. They know that they have little to offer beyond disproven claims and fear mongering about “the children.” They fear the vote in Michigan this November could be another large nail of the coffin that encloses their cause.