Legalizing marijuana for recreational use was all over different ballots in different states this past November. Washington and Colorado approved the ballot, Arkansas voters rejected it, but voters in Massachusetts joined 17 other states in supporting “medical” marijuana. In January 2010, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed into law and now the first legal marijuana dispensary is about to open. Medical marijuana dispensaries are popping up everywhere.

Keeping this in mind, there have been independent studies and much research conducted about what to expect from the legalization of marijuana. The result is that “medical” marijuana increases drug use and states “medical” marijuana programs had an increase in marijuana use that other states did not have.

Legalizing Marijuana will cause more substance abuse problems

In fact, it is the medical marijuana states that sit at the top of the list for drug addiction and abuse among 12-17 year olds. The reason for this is that the legalization of marijuana has sent the message that it’s acceptable to use. The social disapproval and the perception of harm are quickly fading. One study, the 2011 Monitoring the Future Study reports that 36.4 percent of U.S. 12th graders used marijuana in the past year, and 6.6 percent of them use every day.

The results of this can be detrimental to society since a recent research study has found evidence that chronic marijuana users that started smoking marijuana in their teen years and continued into their 30’s averaged an 8-point decline in their IQ. Further, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has determined that approximately 9 percent of current marijuana users are addicted.

This is a problem that poses great future consequences and implications. Consider future employment where most companies require a pre-employment drug test. Think about how many people are going to be and already are unemployable. That is not the only worry either. Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers and motor vehicle crash victims, which accounts for about 8,600 deaths, 580,000 injuries and $33 billion in damages each year.

Can Marijuana be rated the same as Alcohol or Tobacco?

When talking about legalizing marijuana, many people bring up the money that the government can save. Unfortunately however, the financial taxation benefit of marijuana legalization would never outweigh its cost. The US spends more than $600 billion annually on substance abuse when you factor in productivity, health and crime-related costs. Look at alcohol and then consider that federal and state taxes combined raise $14.5 billion which only accounts for 6 percent of alcohol’s total cost to society. Tobacco taxes raise $25 billion, covering only about 13 percent of tobacco’s total cost to society. Why should anyone expect anything different from marijuana?

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