Texas isn’t ready for the dangers of drug tourism and legal marijuana.
The past decade of drug liberalization has brought a mixed bag of examples for Texas legislators to examine. Stopping the incarceration of large numbers of people, especially young people and minorities, is an admirable goal. So is curtailing the black market demand, which has enriched organized crime in our cities and across our southern border.
However, House Bill 2165, introduced by state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, goes much farther than other marijuana bills currently in the Texas legislature. The bill would legalize both possession and distribution of marijuana. The audacious bill is based on the premise that legalizing marijuana will reduce minor consumption and allow state resources to be better allocated.
Unfortunately, in the many examples of drug liberalization to be found across the nation, these two goals have seen varied success.
As a business venture, Colorado’s experiment in outright legalization has been wildly successful. The state has raked in an estimated $76 million in total taxes and fees off approximately $700 million in total sales. However, along with tax revenues, the law had promised to end the black market and curb teen consumption. On that front, Colorado has had some major setbacks.
The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health has noted a rise in drug use in Colorado to the point where the state is now ranked second highest in the nation. Out of an estimated 130 metric tons a year of marijuana sold in Colorado, less than 60 percent was legal and regulated, according to the state. Most worrying is that rather than decrease, marijuana use in the past months among 12- to 17-year-olds increased by 4 percent between 2011 to 2012 and 2012 to 2013. The increased trend among youth is a great source of concern, and runs counter to the claim that legalization protects minors.
Marijuana, despite being touted as “less dangerous than alcohol,” still causes a host of social and medical problems including addiction, cognitive development and auto accidents. Legalization in Colorado has led to the increasing cultivation of extremely strong and often contaminated forms of marijuana with no medicinal value. The risks of marijuana are particularly acute for teens and young adults. The availability of marijuana to minors is a primary concern for all sides when setting marijuana policy. Yet, the increased use of marijuana among Colorado teens suggests that legalization has not diminished the …Read More