An article in the BBC News caught my eye last night. “Teens less likely to use cannabis when it’s legal, US study finds“. The study was pretty preliminary but quite specific.
Now I can speculate about why, and I’m sure that some will. But the prosaic explanations by a author were pretty good working theory.
Lead author of the study Mark Anderson told the Associated Press that the study, published in the medical journal Jama Paediatrics, “should help to quell some concerns that use among teens will actually go up”.
His team analysed data on about 1.4 million teenagers in the US, taken from the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys, an annual national survey carried out by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr Anderson said it was usually harder for teens to buy from licensed dispensaries – where proof of age is required – than from dealers, which could partly explain the drop. Cannabis sold in dispensaries is also often more expensive.
Dr Anderson said that the researchers did not find a change after medical cannabis was legalised – only when the drug was legalised for recreational purposes.
And the obvious caveat applied…
Dr Anderson told the US broadcaster CNN that, because most states that have legalised cannabis did so recently, the team would need to continue to track the data and update their findings “in a few years”.
Now I have no particular love or dislike about cannabis. I simply don’t care. People have been smoking weed around me for decades and I find them to be as vague with or without. They’re somewhat less annoying than drunks, and usually way less offensive than the smokers and vapers in public spaces.
For me.. Well I’m a programmer and really really use my well-honed brain. It means that I’m kind of irritated when it can’t do what I want it to do.
Which is why getting older sucks because I can use less raw brain power to problem solve. On the other-hand it does get offset by way more accumulated guile.
The couple of times that I tried weed, I simply couldn’t program properly for days afterwards. I’ve never gone back to marijuana or any of its cousins. I prefer the more immediate and less sustained effects of wine.
So personally I put smoking cannabis as being as dangerous to others as getting the flu or doing all night multi-user games or getting infatuated with good bottle of whiskey. You really shouldn’t try to drive, make financial decisions or program after any of those either.
There are people who have issues when they overindulge. Just as I have seen people with issues with alcohol or various medications. But in my life I haven’t seen any evidence that cannabis users need to be criminalised for use.
Have access to counselling yes. Shoved in a cell to come off their idiotic high to prevent personal injury or being a danger to others – sure. Criminalised – no.
But there several other reasons to decriminalise – to improve the quality of supply, and to tax. For instance, this is somewhat extreme, but consider the supply chain implications from this study earlier this year on the quality of hashish in Madrid..
Traces of E.coli bacteria and the Aspergillus fungus were found by analysts who examined 90 samples bought in and around the Spanish capital.
The samples of hashish were wrapped up in plastic “acorns” were the worst offenders, reportedly because of the way they are smuggled into the country.
Some 40% of these also had the aroma of faeces, the study’s lead author said.
What the article was delicately referring to was explained further down the page.
The acorns, he said, were more likely to be contaminated because of how they were brought into the country – the cannabis is wrapped up in small plastic pellets and swallowed before the drug smugglers then “take a laxative and expel” them in a toilet. These are then sold by dealers.
Urggh… Now smoking or consuming that constitutes an extreme personal stupidity driven public health issue. Just like having preventable measles outbreaks is. But it is also a direct consequence of criminalisation. Just as the spiking of various drugs by dealers here with more addictive substances is.
And then of course there is all of that untaxed income from illegal enterprises that sucks investment away from the productive economies.
For me it is a no-brainer. We should treat most minor drugs just like we do with alcohol and tobacco. Tax them heavily. Ensure the quality of supply. Spend the revenue raised on dealing with the civil disorder issues from over-indulging dimwits, education, counselling and the inevitable socila and health consequences.
It’d be way less of an social ill than trying to do something daft like driving that trade underground