The ugly side of legal pot
The battle to legalize recreational and medical marijuana rages across the country with New York and New Jersey poised to legalize recreational pot potentially this year. One thing seemingly ignored by the advocates pushing for a quick action are the reports of increase traffic fatalities and crashes in states where it's legal.
Last year, the Washington Post reported on a study released by the governor’s highway association showing that in 2015 more drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for drugs than alcohol for the first time.
Among those testing positive for drugs, more than one in three had used marijuana.
A more recent study conducted by the University of Michigan showed that approximately half of medical marijuana users were driving with two hours of treatment.
Seems to me that the NJ advocates who are fueling the charge lead by Governor Murphy have not thought this completely through.
Of course we know that many people are using pot and there are many reports of the medical benefits of marijuana to treat everything from chronic pain to seizures. So why are we not aggressively expanding medical use beyond state facilities and empowering pharmacies to carry the drug? Better to regulate than to bottleneck with a small number of state dispensaries and a handful of licensed dealers.
Secondly, let’s decriminalize growing pot at home for personal use. Set the number of plants at a reasonable number and let adults make their own decisions. Then use the state resources to continue the crackdown on impaired driving. As far as the conflict with the federal government, how about the Governor use his influence with the overwhelming majority of Democrats (11-1) in the NJ Congressional delegation and the Democratic majority in the House to push for decriminalizing pot at the federal level?
We have a serious drug problem in New Jersey for sure. We’re not going to solve the problem by copying Colorado without discussing the unintended consequences of legalizing recreational pot across the board. I’ve discussed the problems of revenue and social justice in the past and cautioned that the picture painted by the legalize it crowd is not entirely accurate.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
More from New Jersey 101.5: