The editors of the New York Times should be held accountable for their recklessness. A growing portion of the population is awakening to the realities that allowing a third addiction-based drug industry would have on the long-term public health and health costs.
Here are the words of a few who joined the White House and other commentators and researchers in their push back on the careless opinion of the Times editors:
To the Editor:
Much of the country — with The New York Times regrettably in the vanguard — is advocating the reckless addition of a third drug, marijuana, to two drugs currently legal for adults: alcohol and tobacco. These two legal drugs are the leading causes of preventable illness.
The legal status of a drug has dramatic impact on its use. In the last 30 days, 52 percent of Americans 12 and older used alcohol, 27 percent used tobacco and only 7 percent used marijuana. The dramatically lower level of marijuana use reflects its illegal status, not its appeal. Why is it in our nation’s interest to see marijuana use climb? Since when is smoking a program that we promote?
The best policy to protect public health is one that reduces, not increases, marijuana use. There are plenty of ways to achieve this goal, including a strong public education effort focused on the negative health effects of marijuana.
There are reasons why employers, including the United States government, prohibit marijuana use in the workplace. There are reasons why marijuana emergency room admissions are reported at the rate of 1,250 a day and 455,000 a year, and why highway crashes double for marijuana users.
We cannot ignore the negative effects that legalization would have on under-age use and addiction, highway safety, treatment costs, mental health problems, emergency room admissions, workplace accidents and productivity, and personal health.
ROBERT L. DuPONT
Chicago, July 30, 2014
Mr. Bensinger was administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration from 1976 to 1981. Mr. DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health, was director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse from 1973 to 1978.
To the Editor:
I am concerned by the editorial board’s stance in favor of marijuana legalization. It has been only six months since retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, and just weeks since the rollout in Washington State. A robust, objective analysis of outcomes in these two states is the only way to determine the best policy on this issue, but for now, it is too early to make a sound judgment.
What we do know is that marijuana is harmful, particularly for the still-developing adolescent brain.
As we’ve seen with alcohol and tobacco, imposing a minimum age will probably not be enough to prevent a spike in teenage use and addiction.
Considering this likely consequence, not to mention the economic burden of regulating the drug and treating new problematic users, we may find that the societal costs of legalization outweigh the benefits. However, if we make pronouncements before we see the research, we’re jumping the gun.
Let’s let the facts speak for themselves.
HOWARD P. MEITINER
New York, July 28, 2014
The writer is president and chief executive of Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
To the Editor:
As your July 27 editorial “Repeal Prohibition, Again” says: “There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.”
Our concern about legalization is its effect on kids. Society may not do much better at enforcing this restriction on sale and marketing of marijuana to kids than we have with alcohol and tobacco. Research shows that use of any of these drugs in adolescence — especially early adolescence — significantly heightens risks of substance use disorders in later life.
We need to provide a much better prevention and treatment infrastructure, which expanded access to marijuana and increasing teenage use will require. That begins with limiting marijuana marketing that kids will be exposed to, and equipping parents with information about the very real health risks of early use.
These are not details to be sorted later, but vital considerations. These are the considerations that matter most to us, and to most parents, including — research shows — those favoring legalization.
President and Chief Executive
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
New York, July 29, 2014