Letter: UC Substance Abuse Prevention Board wrong on marijuana legalization

In regards to the letter, “Whoa there on legal cannabis” from the Ulster County Substance Abuse Prevention Board in last week’s paper:

Actually, this letter is factually wrong on several points. Allow me to cite them:

“Youth use of marijuana jumped significantly after legalization in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.”

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Not true, actually. In every study concluded by both the Colorado Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Dept. of Disease Control since legalization occurred has found that youth usage has actually slightly declined. 

Why these authors have chosen to cite a blatantly untrue and fabricated statistic is mind-blowing. It has been repeatedly debunked even by government bodies who were formerly using the same scare tactic.

“Pot shops are clustered in low-income and minority communities in legalized states.”

Partly true, but misleading. In the early days of legalization, rents of course were much easier to afford in areas where there was less expensive real estate, and where landlords would actually rent to them.

A study done by Marijuana Business Daily concluded that while up to 40 percent of marijuana dispensaries were located in lower income communities, that has begun to shift, as landlords see it as legitimate business. 

Not to mention, how is this a net negative? Low-income communities overwhelmingly supported the added revenue and jobs that these shops brought with them. 

“Colorado has seen marijuana-related traffic deaths rise by nearly 50 percent.”

These studies are all inconclusive. They’re also a mixed bag. The Colorado Dept. of Criminal Justice released a study in 2018 concluding that while there has been a small uptick in fatalities where marijuana was recorded in bloodstreams, this is misleading as marijuana testing cannot conclude whether someone was “high” during a crash, or if usage was days or even weeks prior. 

Additionally, testing for marijuana has increased post-2013, where coroners historically tested for marijuana much less often, skewing the results. 

These above rebuttals don’t begin to scratch the surface on this letters misleading claims about youth use and psychosis. 

There are continuing studies in this field, and there is near unanimous consensus that there is still far too little information to jump to these sorts of binary claims. 

As of now, there is only anecdotal evidence to suggest that in a microscopic, fractional population of youth with psychotic tendencies present, marijuana use “may” increase triggers. Just as well there is anecdotal evidence that marijuana use may lessen the severity of the psychosis. 

Again, nearly every report done on this subject in recent memory has gone on to make the very distinct disclaimer that these connections are tenuous at best. They simply don’t know and cannot say with any certainty that these so-called effects exist, independent of many other factors that may or may not play as heavier influences. 

It’s unfortunate to me that this group of people, many of whom I’m sure have the best interests at heart, have resorted to such outdated scare tactics and disproven language about marijuana legalization. We don’t live in Reefer Madness world anymore, where people can just make up “facts” as they go. There are rigorous studies being done every day throughout the world that disproves or critically weakens these old, antiquated, and baseless anti-legalization arguments. 

I would suggest the Ulster County Substance Abuse Prevention Board come back to 2019, with the rest of us who see marijuana legalization as the future. Instead of trying to grip tightly to the puritanical campaigns of mistruths of the past, recognize the billions of adults who not only enjoyed marijuana recreationally in their youth, but continue to do so today, and without the boogey man showing up at their doors.

D. James Goodwin
Woodstock

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