If you study those who oppose marijuana legalization for any length of time and read through some of their op-eds, a pattern of talking points quickly emerges. They lament the coming “commercialization” of cannabis and the boogeyman that is “big marijuana”. They claim to have proof of definitive links – based on a few cherry-picked studies – that marijuana use before the age of 25 leads to mental illness, psychosis and violence.
You can read a recent example of this here – with the bonus of the recently added talking point about the dangers of vaping. The bottom line for prohibitionists on the surface is that marijuana is dangerous, we need to keep it away from children and that legalization will bring big marijuana who will corrupt our children with a substance that will destroy their minds.
If you only take it that far, it’s hard to argue with; after all, no one is advocating that kids should have access to marijuana. But if you give their whole argument more than 20 seconds of thought, a huge hole opens in the logic.
Under prohibition, illicit dealers control the cannabis market. Under “full” commercial legalization, licensed retailers control the market. Those are the two options, with a large gray area in between where we see high taxes and regulations combined with limited supply hampering the legal industry’s ability to compete with the black market – basically what we have now in much of the U.S. and Canada.
Let’s say we eliminate the commercial option – what groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana claim they want. What do we have left? Full prohibition with the market controlled by drug dealers.
Drug dealers don’t check IDs. Why would they? They are already committing crimes by doing what they do; why not expand the customer base as much as possible? Licensed retailers, on the other hand, have a lot of incentive to make sure they follow the law; they could be fined or even lose their license(s).
So what those who oppose marijuana sales are really advocating for is leaving the market in the hands of drug dealers who have no problem selling marijuana – which they say is very dangerous – to your kids. I don’t know about other parents, but I don’t want drug dealers selling marijuana to my kids. Maybe that’s just me.
If you don’t want drug dealers to have carte blanche to sell marijuana to your kids, you might support legal retailers who check ID having the ability to undercut those dealers and run them out of business.
Or maybe you’re cool with drug dealers selling marijuana to your children.