Opinion: Americans must understand marijuana danger

Kevin Sabet
In this Sept. 15, 2015, file photo, lead grower Dave Wilson cares for marijuana plants at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. Michigan regulators have significantly expanded the list of conditions approved for treatment by medical marijuana. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on Monday, July 9, 2018, added 11 medical conditions deemed debilitating by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act of 2008.

The marijuana industry is coming at us fast and furious, demanding we legalize another harmful drug. It’s an issue about to come before voters, and it will change our country. Every single state that has commercialized marijuana has seen a multitude of public health concerns. 

Below are just a few studies that prove that the social disease that is recreational marijuana is true and undeniable. 

Alcohol used to be the main culprit when it came to impaired driving, but that drug is getting a run for its money from marijuana. So much so that recently the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an awareness campaign.

In Colorado, a study by the state itself found of the 4,000 drivers tested for marijuana in 2016, 73 percent were found to have the drug in their system. That year alone more than 26,000 people were pulled over for DUI, but police say it was too expensive to test them all for pot.

Another study, by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission found marijuana-impaired fatalities doubled from 2012 to 2016 and one in five drivers are under the influence of marijuana. That’s up from one in 10 before legalization.

Much like Big Tobacco, Big Marijuana is moving into low-income and minority neighborhoods.

In Colorado, crime is rising, bucking a downward trend across the country. It rose five percent in 2016 compared with 2013, and violent crime went up more than 12 percent in the same time period. 

More black and Hispanic kids are getting arrested now in states that have legalized marijuana than in the past. Statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Safety show that in the two years after Colorado legalized marijuana, the number of Hispanic and African American kids arrested for marijuana-related offenses rose 29 and 58 percent. 

Minorities aren’t the only targets of Big Marijuana, so is another vulnerable population: children. They are frequently exposed to enticing ads from the industry and the pot-infused gummies, candies and sodas are colorful and attractive to the young eye.

But it’s not just the edibles that kids are going for, they’re also hitting the more traditional means of getting high. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health the rate of young people using marijuana has increased in states that have legalized the drug. 

Big Marijuana wants nothing more than to use its power to entice the unsuspecting, the poor, the young and any other group that will listen to its false promises of a better world.

Dr. Kevin Sabet is a former senior drug policy advisor to President Obama and serves as the president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.