Those of us involved in monitoring the rise of corporate marijuana should understand the value of our disquiet. It is an early warning sign.
Over twenty years ago M.I.T. systems thinker, Peter Senge, wrote about the “parable of the boiled frog.” In short: if you place a frog in a shallow pan of boiling water it will immediately try and jump out. But if you place the frog in warm water, and don’t startle him, he will remain there, unbothered. If the temperature of the water rises gradually, the frog will stay put in the pan, until it’s too late and he’s unable to climb out. As ghastly as the image of the boiled frog is, the lesson is clear. We are not unlike the frog. Our ability for sensing threats to survival is geared to immediate and sudden changes, not to slow, creeping, gradual changes.
(The Fifth Discipline: the Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge, Doubleday. August 1990)
What are the top factors which will awaken the rest of America to the bigger picture? Can we make clear the threats and opportunities we sense around us, or is the lull of the warm water just too tempting for a country brimming with distraction? Can we pay attention?
1. The canaries in the coal mine are youth users. We need a laser focus on the impacts of this drug on developing brains. Social boundaries are porous. A 21-year-old legal limit clearly has no meaning. Where there is more marijuana, more social acceptance for getting high, and more marijuana marketing, there is more youth use.
2. Marketing and misinformation are driving use rates up. Advertising must be stopped, or sharply restricted. There are limits to free speech. One cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, lest a stampede harm the crowd. Why is the standard any different for recreational drug promotion? We are witnessing the harms caused directly by marijuana marketing.
3. Addiction-for-Profit is a business model that must be called into question. How can we stand by when Wall Street prospectors openly call for investment in a market which hinges on addictive consumption? We have an equation where new corporations can internalize private profits, while 80% of profits are gleaned from the 20% who are chronic users. Meanwhile social costs are externalized to the public — for drug treatment and other mental health care costs, unemployment benefits, remedial education, public safety violations, emergency room visits, and enforcement costs. The list of social costs is long. The net outcome is a drain on public coffers.
4. “High potential for abuse” points to a market phenomenon that quickly slips out of control. We are witnessing the early impacts of an uncontrolled marijuana market. Legalization and drug normalization is a failed policy experiment — dead on arrival, actually. Incarceration is not an appropriate intervention for a treatable mental health issue. This is a broadly accepted. Mental health interventions are more appropriate, and likely more effective, but also costly. Driving up use will drive up the costs of responding to more drug abuse and its attendant health and safety fallout.
5. We are on the threshold of a mental health crisis in America. Recreational drug use makes the problem worse. Mental health parity is the law of the land — and justly so. But this also means that compromised mental health creates new and substantial costs and burdens on the American healthcare system. Better that we handle drug abuse as a mental healthcare problem rather than a strictly criminal problem. But by expanding supply and acceptability of recreational drug use we are in the business of manufacturing MORE addicted individuals — with addiction-for-private profit schemes, and then moving drug addicted individuals into treatment programs — more often at public expense. The public and personal costs of this avoidable mental health crisis will be substantial.
Scientific and medical journals and experts are increasingly publishing findings on the health harms of casual and chronic cannabis use and the following links are all informative. The slow motion train wreck is coming into clearer view and gathering speed.
Corporate marijuana’s gradual process of picking off states one-by-one with written to deceive pot laws has led to a slow and steady trending toward more illicit drug use and abuse.
See article and links below:
— Addiction to marijuana is on the rise.
— CBS News: Where there is rising marijuana addiction, there is rising heroin addiction.
— Bloomberg: Scientists are bracing for marijuana abuse as laws ease.
— Washington Times: House votes to halt federal meddling in marijuana states
— NIH: Is Mj addictive? Yes. The number goes up to about 1 in 6 in those who start using young (in their teens) and to 25-50 percent among daily users.
— Colorado State University took a sober look at the the fiscal impact of the proposed Amendment 64 tax measures.
Revenues will not reach the overly optimistic projections of $40 million (which would not build even ONE new school).
Marijuana tax revenues may not cover the incremental state expenditures related to legalization.
Peak marijuana revenues will be the initial years, before flattening and declining.
The analysis is suggesting that there are no public good fiscal justifications to legalizing this drug.
— Rand is looking at the scale of marijuana use in Washington leading up to their “Grand Opening”. Youth use is on a sharp incline.
From The Guardian:
Bloomberg Business Week
National Institutes of Health
Colorado State University