(Official Washington Examiner editorial, April 2)  Credit Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) not just for vetoing a bill last month that would have created a retail marijuana market but also for issuing a comprehensive, fact-filled explanation of why the dope craze is dreadful.

Youngkin’s summary sentences alone encapsulate the plethora of anti-legalization arguments this publication has made for years. Retail marijuana legalization, he wrote, “endangers Virginians’ health and safety. States following this path have seen adverse effects on children’s and adolescent’s health and safety, increased gang activity and violent crime, significant deterioration in mental health, decreased road safety, and significant costs associated with retail marijuana that far exceed tax revenue. It also does not eliminate the illegal black-market sale of cannabis, nor guarantee product safety.”

The statistics are strikingly bleak. As state after state has legalized cannabis and established retail markets for the drug, reports to Poison Control of children’s overdoses have jumped 400%. And “cannabis commercialization and diminished cannabis enforcement have resulted in youth cannabis use increasing by 245% between 2000 and 2022, contrasting with declines in teen alcohol and tobacco use,” as the incidence of uncontrollable substance-abuse disorders also has risen accordingly. So, too, with increased incidences of psychoses and other mental health problems, along with higher rates of school dropouts and “impaired brain development.”

The governor could also have mentioned many other bad health effects of marijuana, as the Drug Enforcement Administration has blamed it for “serious health problems such as bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma [and] suppression of the immune system.”

Youngkin also shot down another main contention of pro-marijuana activists, namely their claim that legal retail markets deter or eliminate black markets and organized crime connected to the cannabis trade. “Six years after legalization, California’s legal cannabis market represented only about 10% of total cannabis sales,” Youngkin wrote. “With the black-market’s persistent pressure, gang activity escalates and violent crime surges.” This proved true, for example, in Oregon, where the state saw significant hikes, compared to states that hadn’t legalized marijuana, in property crime, aggravated assault, and violent crime in general…. [The full editorial is at this link.]


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