Marijuana Legalization Spikes Teen Use? Nope.

By: Mike Tuttle - July 29, 2014

For many years, there were several arguments that anti-legalization forces leaned on to keep pot at bay, medicinal or otherwise. One by one those arguments have been deflated and disproven.

As it turns out, marijuana is not a “gateway” to harder drugs. It does not cause mental illness. It is not physically addictive, in the same way that nicotine is.

In fact, states that enacted marijuana laws have seen an average 13% drop in traffic fatalities because people substitute pot smoking for alcohol consumption, and pot use tends to be more of an at-home recreation.

With public opinion softening on pot in general, one of the arguments that the anti-weed folks have been leaning into is that it would lead to higher instances of teen and youth pot use and arrest.

Which brings us to a recent Washington Post piece. According to data collected in American states where pot restrictions have been loosened to allow for medical marijuana, use among teens, and especially arrests, has barely moved the needle.

The article cites a study called the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a CDC program that tracks various risky factors for youth, including alcohol use, dietary issues, sexual behaviors, etc. According to one of the study’s co-authors, Daniel Rees, “the effect of massing a medical marijuana law on youth consumption appears to be zero across the board.”

The Youth Risk Behavior Study from 1993 through 2011, states specifically that there is “little evidence of a relationship between legalizing medical marijuana and the use of marijuana among high school students.”

One reason that researchers think that youth consumption does not go up when marijuana is legalized is that sellers are not willing to risk their legal sales to make a few bucks off underage purchase attempts. As one paper puts it, “legalization allows suppliers to sell to adults with some assurance of not being prosecuted, while selling marijuana to a minor is still a risky proposition even with the legalization of medical marijuana.”

Bit by bit, the legal hurdles to legalization are coming down, as each argument is being studied and refuted in areas that have led the way in legalization.

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Mike Tuttle

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Mike TuttleWriter. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.

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  • SirVivor

    Marijuana prohibition from the very beginning has been based on lie upon lie. It will take some time to completely dismantle this evil wrongdoing as the tenticles of prohibition and reefer madness run very deep and into many aspects of society. There are many parties who stand to lose vast amounts of money so they will not go away easily … even when the truth exposes them. People like Kevin Sabet and Patrick Kennedy should be ashamed of themselves for using the “save the children” lie for financial gain.

  • david

    anyone who’s interested in smoking it is already doing it. marijuana laws are a joke. dump them now and put the money to better use.

  • john

    Legit business owners, white collar workers and retirees are the main users of marijuana that nobody knows about. Urine and blood tests are conducted and company policies prevent a lot of people from admitting they use marijuana even for medical reasons. Decriminalize it first then legalizing it will be easier!!!

  • http://www.lemonparty.org/ IJR

    Kevin Sabet and Patrick Kennedy quietly cried at the news that legalization does not mean more children use marijuanaa. They are very sad. They will still lie and use the old, cliched argument, “THINK OF THE CHILDREN.” But they are sad that less teens are using marijuana.

  • doug

    Anslinger was an extremely ambitious man, and he recognized the Bureau of Narcotics as an amazing career opportunity — a new government agency with the opportunity to define both the problem and the solution. He immediately realized that opiates and cocaine wouldn’t be enough to help build his agency, so he latched on to marijuana and started to work on making it illegal at the federal level.

    Anslinger immediately drew upon the themes of racism and violence to draw national attention to the problem he wanted to create. He also promoted and frequently read from “Gore Files” — wild reefer-madness-style exploitation tales of ax murderers on marijuana and sex and… Negroes. Here are some quotes that have been widely attributed to Anslinger and his Gore Files:

    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

    “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

    “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

    “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

    “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

    “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

    “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
    Harry Anslinger got some additional help from William Randolf Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had lots of reasons to help. First, he hated Mexicans. Second, he had invested heavily in the timber industry to support his newspaper chain and didn’t want to see the development of hemp paper in competition. Third, he had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa, so he hated Mexicans. Fourth, telling lurid lies about Mexicans (and the devil marijuana weed causing violence) sold newspapers, making him rich.

    Some samples from the San Francisco Examiner:

    “Marihuana makes fiends of boys in thirty days — Hashish goads users to bloodlust.”

    “By the tons it is coming into this country — the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms…. Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him….”

    And other nationwide columns…

    “Users of marijuana become STIMULATED as they inhale the drug and are LIKELY TO DO ANYTHING. Most crimes of violence in this section, especially in country districts are laid to users of that drug.”

    “Was it marijuana, the new Mexican drug, that nerved the murderous arm of Clara Phillips when she hammered out her victim’s life in Los Angeles?… THREE-FOURTHS OF THE CRIMES of violence in this country today are committed by DOPE SLAVES — that is a matter of cold record.”

    Hearst and Anslinger were then supported by Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Dupont had patented nylon, and wanted hemp removed as competition. The pharmaceutical companies could neither identify nor standardize cannabis dosages, and besides, with cannabis, folks could grow their own medicine and not have to purchase it from large companies.

    This all set the stage for…

    The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

    After two years of secret planning, Anslinger brought his plan to Congress — complete with a scrapbook full of sensational Hearst editorials, stories of ax murderers who had supposedly smoked marijuana, and racial slurs.

    It was a remarkably short set of hearings.

    The one fly in Anslinger’s ointment was the appearance by Dr. William C. Woodward, Legislative Council of the American Medical Association.

    Woodward started by slamming Harry Anslinger and the Bureau of Narcotics for distorting earlier AMA statements that had nothing to do with marijuana and making them appear to be AMA endorsement for Anslinger’s view.

    He also reproached the legislature and the Bureau for using the term marijuana in the legislation and not publicizing it as a bill about cannabis or hemp. At this point, marijuana (or marihuana) was a sensationalist word used to refer to Mexicans smoking a drug and had not been connected in most people’s minds to the existing cannabis/hemp plant. Thus, many who had legitimate reasons to oppose the bill weren’t even aware of it.

    Woodward went on to state that the AMA was opposed to the legislation and further questioned the approach of the hearings, coming close to outright accusation of misconduct by Anslinger and the committee:

    “That there is a certain amount of narcotic addiction of an objectionable character no one will deny. The newspapers have called attention to it so prominently that there must be some grounds for [their] statements [even Woodward was partially taken in by Hearst’s propaganda]. It has surprised me, however, that the facts on which these statements have been based have not been brought before this committee by competent primary evidence. We are referred to newspaper publications concerning the prevalence of marihuana addiction. We are told that the use of marihuana causes crime.

    But yet no one has been produced from the Bureau of Prisons to show the number of prisoners who have been found addicted to the marihuana habit. An informed inquiry shows that the Bureau of Prisons has no evidence on that point.

    You have been told that school children are great users of marihuana cigarettes. No one has been summoned from the Children’s Bureau to show the nature and extent of the habit, among children.

    Inquiry of the Children’s Bureau shows that they have had no occasion to investigate it and know nothing particularly of it.

    Inquiry of the Office of Education— and they certainly should know something of the prevalence of the habit among the school children of the country, if there is a prevalent habit— indicates that they have had no occasion to investigate and know nothing of it.

    Moreover, there is in the Treasury Department itself, the Public Health Service, with its Division of Mental Hygiene. The Division of Mental Hygiene was, in the first place, the Division of Narcotics. It was converted into the Division of Mental Hygiene, I think, about 1930. That particular Bureau has control at the present time of the narcotics farms that were created about 1929 or 1930 and came into operation a few years later. No one has been summoned from that Bureau to give evidence on that point.

    Informal inquiry by me indicates that they have had no record of any marihuana of Cannabis addicts who have ever been committed to those farms.

    The bureau of Public Health Service has also a division of pharmacology. If you desire evidence as to the pharmacology of Cannabis, that obviously is the place where you can get direct and primary evidence, rather than the indirect hearsay evidence.”

    Committee members then proceeded to attack Dr. Woodward, questioning his motives in opposing the legislation. Even the Chairman joined in:

    The Chairman: If you want to advise us on legislation, you ought to come here with some constructive proposals, rather than criticism, rather than trying to throw obstacles in the way of something that the Federal Government is trying to do. It has not only an unselfish motive in this, but they have a serious responsibility.

    Dr. Woodward: We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman, why this bill should have been prepared in secret for 2 years without any intimation, even, to the profession, that it was being prepared.

    After some further bantering…

    The Chairman: I would like to read a quotation from a recent editorial in the Washington Times:

    The marihuana cigarette is one of the most insidious of all forms of dope, largely because of the failure of the public to understand its fatal qualities.

    The Nation is almost defenseless against it, having no Federal laws to cope with it and virtually no organized campaign for combating it.

    The result is tragic.

    School children are the prey of peddlers who infest school neighborhoods.

    High school boys and girls buy the destructive weed without knowledge of its capacity of harm, and conscienceless dealers sell it with impunity.

    This is a national problem, and it must have national attention.

    The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug, and American children must be protected against it.

    That is a pretty severe indictment. They say it is a national question and that it requires effective legislation. Of course, in a general way, you have responded to all of these statements; but that indicates very clearly that it is an evil of such magnitude that it is recognized by the press of the country as such.

    And that was basically it. Yellow journalism won over medical science.

    The committee passed the legislation on. And on the floor of the house, the entire discussion was:

    Member from upstate New York: “Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?”

    Speaker Rayburn: “I don’t know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it’s a narcotic of some kind.”

    “Mr. Speaker, does the American Medical Association support this bill?”

    Member on the committee jumps up and says: “Their Doctor Wentworth[sic] came down here. They support this bill 100 percent.”

    And on the basis of that lie, on August 2, 1937, marijuana became illegal at the federal level.

    The entire coverage in the New York Times: “President Roosevelt signed today a bill to curb traffic in the narcotic, marihuana, through heavy taxes on transactions.”

    Anslinger as precursor to the Drug Czars

    Anslinger was essentially the first Drug Czar. Even though the term didn’t exist until William Bennett’s position as director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy, Anslinger acted in a similar fashion. In fact, there are some amazing parallels between Anslinger and the current Drug Czar John Walters. Both had kind of a carte blanche to go around demonizing drugs and drug users. Both had resources and a large public podium for their voice to be heard and to promote their personal agenda. Both lied constantly, often when it was unnecessary. Both were racists. Both had the ear of lawmakers, and both realized that they could persuade legislators and others based on lies, particularly if they could co-opt the media into squelching or downplaying any opposition views.

    Anslinger even had the ability to circumvent the First Amendment. He banned the Canadian movie “Drug Addict,” a 1946 documentary that realistically depicted the drug addicts and law enforcement efforts. He even tried to get Canada to ban the movie in their own country, or failing that, to prevent U.S. citizens from seeing the movie in Canada. Canada refused. (Today, Drug Czar John Walters is trying to bully Canada into keeping harsh marijuana laws.)

    Anslinger had 37 years to solidify the propaganda and stifle opposition. The lies continued the entire time (although the stories would adjust — the 21 year old Florida boy who killed his family of five got younger each time he told it). In 1961, he looked back at his efforts:

    “Much of the most irrational juvenile violence and that has written a new chapter of shame and tragedy is traceable directly to this hemp intoxication. A gang of boys tear the clothes from two school girls and rape the screaming girls, one boy after the other. A sixteen-year-old kills his entire family of five in Florida, a man in Minnesota puts a bullet through the head of a stranger on the road; in Colorado husband tries to shoot his wife, kills her grandmother instead and then kills himself. Every one of these crimes had been proceeded [sic] by the smoking of one or more marijuana “reefers.” As the marijuana situation grew worse, I knew action had to be taken to get the proper legislation passed. By 1937 under my direction, the Bureau launched two important steps First, a legislative plan to seek from Congress a new law that would place marijuana and its distribution directly under federal control. Second, on radio and at major forums, such that presented annually by the New York Herald Tribune, I told the story of this evil weed of the fields and river beds and roadsides. I wrote articles for magazines; our agents gave hundreds of lectures to parents, educators, social and civic leaders. In network broadcasts I reported on the growing list of crimes, including murder and rape. I described the nature of marijuana and its close kinship to hashish. I continued to hammer at the facts.

    I believe we did a thorough job, for the public was alerted and the laws to protect them were passed, both nationally and at the state level. We also brought under control the wild growing marijuana in this country. Working with local authorities, we cleaned up hundreds of acres of marijuana and we uprooted plants sprouting along the roadsides.”

    Today, March 30, 2011, marks an unhappy birthday. Fifty years ago, marijuana became illegal worldwide.

    The Single Convention Treaty on Narcotic Drugs, which started the international policy of cannabis prohibition, was signed on this day in 1961. In accordance with the treaty, marijuana is still illegal in every country on Earth — including the Netherlands, where laws remain on the books despite official policy “tolerating” its use.

    The Single Convention Treaty was the handiwork of the powerful ex-director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, architect of the first federal cannabis prohibition law, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

    “Anslinger had pushed for a treaty against cannabis in order to shore up the act’s dubious constitutionality under U.S. law,” said Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML. (The act was later declared unconstitutional for other reasons, only to be supplanted by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which kicked off Nixon’s War On Drugs.)

    Part F of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 established the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse—known as the Shafer Commission after its chairman, Raymond P. Shafer—to study marijuana abuse in the United States. During his presentation of the commission’s First Report to Congress, Shafer recommended the decriminalization of marijuana in small amounts, saying,

    The criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe ( by the Government) is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance. But he ( Nixson ) ignored them and made it law anyway.