An surprising consequence of each the coronavirus pandemic and the motion for much-needed felony justice reform has been the highlight they’ve placed on the nation’s evolving — and infrequently contentious — marijuana coverage.
Marijuana consumption has spiked in the course of the COVID-19 lockdown, resulting in heated debate over whether or not dispensaries ought to be deemed “important companies.”
In the meantime, as protests proceed demanding police reforms, many are utilizing marijuana decriminalization/legalization as a technique to promote racial justice in communities of shade — which have suffered disproportionately excessive incarceration charges on account of the struggle on medicine.
Marijuana’s an more and more distinguished function in American society, and due to this fact in shaping public coverage, raises necessary questions regarding what People actually take into consideration hashish — and in step with these shifting perceptions, how we must always transfer ahead as a nation with legalization and commercialization.
The professional-cannabis foyer rightly factors to polls that present People overwhelmingly favor the legalization of adult-use marijuana. Whereas that help stays robust, more-nuanced opinions are additionally rising about each the potential dangers and risks such laws poses— and the way we have to monitor and regulate marijuana merchandise.
For instance, simply over half of the respondents within the 2020 Rosenthal Hashish Examine consider right this moment’s more-powerful marijuana — together with edibles, and different intensely concentrated types of the drug-containing excessive ranges of THC — are doubtlessly dangerous, particularly to adolescents. Moreover, 60 % are sure or no less than considerably certain hashish is addictive, and 6 in 10 are involved about its results on pregnant girls.
The examine, performed by Schoen Consulting on behalf of the Rosenthal Heart for Dependancy Research, additionally discovered that just about half of these surveyed favor pausing legalization till extra analysis is finished to find out the long-term results of use.
These findings will not be solely shocking, however additionally they dovetail with a rising variety of medical research that element the downsides of marijuana use, and the implications of legalization.
These embody the unfavorable affect on adolescent cognitive skills and fetal growth and the difficulties of withdrawal for these recognized with hashish use dysfunction. As well as, a current report by the College of Michigan Harm Prevention Heart, which analyzed knowledge from practically 14 years of authorized medical marijuana within the state, reported a rise in cannabis-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits — in addition to a tripling of deadly automotive crashes through which the driving force was underneath the affect of marijuana.
It was no shock then that our survey discovered two-thirds of People help curbs on the commercialization of marijuana, and 78 % need to see warning labels (just like these on alcohol and tobacco) on pot merchandise.
Respondents additionally favor local-level management, with greater than 40 % saying communities ought to have the precise to opt-out of permitting medical and leisure hashish of their neighborhoods. And round 80 % endorse mandating marijuana dispensaries be positioned no less than 1,000 ft away from colleges, parks, and playgrounds.
Given these rising doubts and fears, essentially the most cheap method due to this fact can be to pause the legalization course of with a purpose to higher assess each the dangers and potential advantages of marijuana.
And as legalization invariably strikes forward — in a single kind or one other — we should ensure there are correct guidelines in place — based mostly on info — to manage the marijuana market and entry to it.
It might be simplistic to treat marijuana legalization as a cure-all for a lot of the nation’s issues. For instance, reforming the felony justice system and serving to cash-strapped states increase tax revenues within the post-pandemic interval are, in fact, worthy objectives.
However they need to not come on the expense of safeguarding public well being and well-being.
Mitchell S. Rosenthal is a psychiatrist who based Phoenix Home, the nationwide substance abuse therapy group, and is now president of The Rosenthal Heart for Dependancy Research in New York Metropolis.