Writing in the WSJ, George Soros recited a history lesson on marijuana rather than presented arguments supporting its legalization. Mr. Soros presents the issue as a matter of “racial inequalities”. He attributes the laws criminalizing marijuana enacted between 1915 and 1933 to racial prejudice against immigrants from Mexico rather than based in science or public health. Rather than attempt to determine the accuracy of those assertions, it is more useful to assess what really happens to many uses of “pot” regardless of ethnicity. It is useful to put the use of marijuana in the context of the absolute necessity of persons save the very wealthy, the retired, and night club comedians having an unimpeded mind as they study, work, drive, and care for children.
Mr. Soros offers statistics on arrests. Indeed Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites. African Americans are “three, five or even ten times” more likely to be arrested for position of marijuana. But African Americans are about ten times more likely to be arrested for homicide as whites. This is not to claim some causal relationship, but African Americans live in areas with high levels of crime. This results in more police looking looking for criminals.
“Stoned” – That is the common expression used for “pot heads”. The connotation clearly relates to the brain which is correctly thought of as being impaired. The key point is that with repeated use, the impairment lasts for many hours and even days. Winston Churchill was known to at times be affected by alcohol. There is the vignette in which a lady accused him of being drunk. This was in response to being called “ugly”. Churchill correctly noted that in the morning he would be sober, but the lady would still be ugly. Churchill understood the physiology of alcohol. It is water soluble. It stays in the blood stream and is metabolized rather quickly in the liver. Marijuana is not like that. It is fat soluble. It leaves the blood and is sequestered in fatty tissues. With chronic use, it enters the blood long after use. Users have an expression – “tripping out”. They experience the effects at odd times.
The argument for legalized marijuana which most appeals to conservatives is economic. Firstly, we cannot afford to prosecute users. In California, it is not clear we can afford to prosecute many crimes. This is a sometimes unspoken blight of societies in the New World. Secondly, we could tax it. Save on the criminal justice system and collect taxes. What’s not to like? Problem is, there is much more to the economic issue.
The problem is legalized marijuana would legalize the “stoning” of Californians. Stoned citizens are not good students, employees, and parents. Another reason for businesses to leave California.
Some users have personality changes – not good ones. This affected several young white professional adults I knew over forty years ago. Besides the stoned condition, they became belligerent. It is claimed that marijuana is not a “gateway” drug. Marijuana by itself is a gateway to a troubled wasted life for a least some individuals.
Low birth weight babies. This is serious matter. It disproportionately affects African Americans. It is related to bad behavior. Granted, women who are in ideal circumstances and follow the science based prenatal regime may have a low birth weight infant. Women who abuse a variety of substances including marijuana are more likely to have a low birth weight infant. Stress which is commonly associated with having a unstable impaired partner is another circumstance which is contributory.
All this is detailed in the March of Dimes web site. The March of Dimes supports the “science and public health” concerns that Mr. Soros claims to advocate. The massive medical costs of low birth weight babies is detailed. There are other costs related to impairment of the central nervous system and chronic lung disease.