Those who oppose cannabis legalization are being backed into a corner. As they lose more ground culturally, politically and in the court of public opinion, many realize that their time of influence is waning.
As a result, they rely ever more heavily on the same tired talking points and lines from the past; the ones that used to work. And to someone who has never studied the issue, things like the “gateway” theory carry a certain amount of credibility. It’s easy to imagine marijuana users getting tired of it and going on to other substances. To be sure, a small amount of research will blow this theory out of the water, but at first glance it makes sense.
Another talking point prohibitionists rely on is less intuitive however. In fact, it makes no sense upon first glance and continues to not make sense no matter how much you study the issue. This is the “marijuana use/legalization leads to violence” theory.
Depending on the prohibitionist you ask, either using marijuana makes people violent or the legalization of marijuana leads to more violent crime. They’ll present cherry-picked studies that they hope will make you forget everything you know about cannabis use.
Then those who support cannabis legalization come back with more studies and reports showing the so-called link between marijuana and violence to be the fantasy that it is. But how many studies do you need to believe what your eyes see?
Most people who use cannabis spend a lot of time around others who use cannabis. You would be hard-pressed to find any cannabis user that has a story about someone using marijuana and then becoming violent. And as customers shift from the illegal to the legal market, those who use violence to settle disputes will have fewer resources with which to carry out that violence.
You can have opinions contrary to those espoused by pro-legalization advocates. You can even try to dissuade as many people as you can from ever using marijuana. But to advocate for the continued criminalization of people over a fantasy like “marijuana leads to violence” is disingenuous at best – and criminal in and of itself at worst.
There will always be a certain segment of the population that thinks because they disapprove of something that someone else does, that means there should be a law against it. There is no reaching those people; nothing will educate them. So we must focus on preventing their backwards thinking from having the force of law behind it.