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Should the Legal Age for Marijuana Use be 25?

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A recent opinion piece in The New York Times by Dr. Kenneth L. Davis and Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek is making waves in the cannabis community and beyond. In the piece, the doctors attempt to make the case that the legal age for marijuana use should be set by the government at 25.

While reading the good doctors’ thoughts on the subject, three major problems became obvious:

  1. The doctors fall into the trap that everyone who is not familiar with the cannabis plant falls into, namely, the cherry-picking of a few studies out of thousands to bolster their specific argument, while making useless comparisons to tobacco and alcohol. Not only do they cherry-pick studies, but they even included a thoroughly discredited 2012 study from Duke University that supposedly showed marijuana use at an early age lowers I.Q. results.
  2. They don’t explain how making the legal age 25 will keep marijuana away from those who are aged 21-24. While having to buy marijuana from a licensed shop has shown to be a deterrent to teenagers when it comes to accessing marijuana, is a 23-year-old adult who can legally drink in a bar going to have that much of a problem finding cannabis on the black market? Is forcing them to the black market the solution these doctors are advocating for the imaginary problem they are pushing?
  3. One of the problems that has grown out of the prohibition and subsequent battle to legalize marijuana is the assumption on the part of many that their personal opinion on marijuana carries some important weight. Even worse, some think that their opinion on marijuana should be enforced by the state. And even worse than that – can you imagine? – there are some, doctors even, who think their opinion on marijuana is so important that it should be the standard for all future legislation on the matter.

Doctors Davis and Kreek are full of policy prescriptions for cannabis legalization, but why should we care? They show very little knowledge of the cannabis plant or the community, but even if they showed vast knowledge, why should their opinion on the matter force a 24-year-old to continue to be criminalized for choosing to use cannabis? Who is being victimized in that situation?

We are entirely too comfortable with giving credence to the opinions of strangers who know nothing about us concerning what we do in the privacy of our own home. I don’t remember asking for those opinions.

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