SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) held a webinar discussing the costs of legalization in states that legalize the retail sale of marijuana (at the state level). The webinar opened up by laying out SAM’s goals and promotions: it promotes health first, smart policies, meaning alternatives to incarceration and to help people heal (i.e. rehab) from their addictions, and attitudes that decrease marijuana use and its consequences. The non-profit does not support legalization of marijuana and goes into the reasons/science behind their reasoning.

The costs of legalizing marijuana are as follows:

-increases youth use

-drug driving fatalities

-workplace accidents and fatalities

-trips to emergency room

-costs outweigh revenue

While some might think that the legalization of marijuana decreases its use, they are wrong because there is a rising increase in usage since legalization in certain states. For instance, in Colorado they are seeing in increased usage, which has become a number above the national average use, and pot edibles now account for 50% of the Colorado market.

Furthermore, today’s marijuana is not the same as it used to be in the mid-late 20th century. It has become much more potent, hence because of the THC and CBD levels in the drug.

More logistics on the consequences of the legalization of pot, for recreational or medicinal purposes:

-traffic fatalities doubled in Washington State after legalization

-40% of users are more likely to have missed work in the last month due to injury/illness and start to lack motivation

For those who advocate for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, here is the evidence as to why that is not a good idea. For instance, the average medical marijuana user is not sick and usually has a history of drug or alcohol abuse; therefore, legalizing pot would only perpetuate that abuse for those patients. Also, illness used to justify medical marijuana is very rare: fewer than 5% have cancer, HIV/AIDS, or glaucoma; and other medicines already exist, which show promise to treat certain conditions (like child epilepsy), thus no need for medical marijuana. Lastly, more young people are in treatment for marijuana addiction than alcohol and other drugs combined.

In regards to actions on the Hill and executive agencies, AG Jeff Sessions told Congress they should remove the Rohrabacher language and they complied. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment is used as a back-door legalization of medical marijuana, and SAM is working with others to eradicate this amendment.

Further amendments that advocate for the legalization of pot:

McClintock-Polis amendment

-narrowly failed in 2015

-back-door legalization of recreational marijuana

Heck amendment

-back-door legalization of money laundering from sale of marijuana

-passed in 2014, but didn’t become law

Pocan amendment

-new for 2017

-back-door legalization of medical marijuana

-blocks CBP and ICE from enforcing CSA against states that have passed medical marijuana laws

Blumenauer amendment

-passed in 2016, but didn’t become law

-forces VA to change their rules to allow medical pot to be recommended

-blocked in House this year

-passed by Sen Daines in Appropriations this year

Ultimately, SAMs message is for no pro-pot riders in appropriations bills and is working tirelessly with other groups, including FBOs and Congress, to lessen the legalization of marijuana in the United States.

The webinar closed by stating that “we can reform marijuana laws without legalization and commercialization.”