Denver television station CBS4 reports that Colorado has seen a sharp spike in marijuana use among teenagers since voters passed Amendment 64 last November, legalizing recreational use of the drug. As described in The Economist, along with a Washington State measure also legalizing marijuana, Amendment 64 is “an electoral first not only for America but for the world.”
That means two American states are to the left of the Scandinavian countries, Holland, and every other liberal country regarding marijuana.
CBS4 quotes a number of local high-school students:
“I’ve seen a lot more people just walking down the street smoking (joints),” high-school student Irie Johnson said.
“In high school it has kind of gotten out of hand,” student Alaina Tanenbaum said.
According to the CBS4 report, based in part on data from a local drug-testing lab: “Experts say the test results show that children are getting higher than ever with alarming levels of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, in their bodies.”
The massive increase in both the number of users and the amount of marijuana used by young people is precisely what I and many others predicted.
It was easy to foresee.
When something desirable is made easier to obtain, more people will obtain it. It is difficult to imagine an exception to this commonsense observation.
So legalizing marijuana is foolish because it leads to far more use of the drug and the availability of ever more potent forms. But the foolishness doesn’t end there. Equally foolish is that as a society we have made peace with marijuana while making war on tobacco. This has been a classic example of upside-down thinking; and we are reaping exactly what we have sown. We have produced a generation of young Americans who would never put a cigarette or cigar near their lips, but who increasingly get high on pot.
Yes, tobacco — specifically cigarettes — kills and marijuana doesn’t. But, if you’ll forgive the ultimate political incorrectness, young people would do much better in life if they smoked tobacco rather than weed.
First, tobacco doesn’t kill young people. When it kills, it generally kills much older adult people. Moreover, according to a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, if you stop smoking cigarettes by age 44, you will lose only one more year of life than a person who has never smoked.
Second, regular pot smokers increasingly tune out of life, becoming what are known as potheads, or, to put it bluntly, losers.
Third, as noted in the CBS4 report, “new studies that have been published say the risk of a car accident increases two-fold after someone consumes pot.” In other words, innocent human beings — sometimes whole families — are more likely to be maimed, paralyzed, and killed by pot smokers than by cigarette smokers.
For myriad reasons, then, I would far prefer my teenager indulge in cigarettes — not to mention cigars — than pot. Anyone who thinks that pot is less harmful to a teenager than tobacco is fooling himself — and his teenager.
If this is not obvious, ponder these questions: Would you rather your airplane pilot smoke pot or tobacco while flying? How would Britain have fared in World War II if Winston Churchill had smoked pot instead of cigars?
In terms of the effects of tobacco and pot on the smoker while smoking, there is simply no comparison between pot and tobacco.
What the Left has done to America’s youth in the last 40 or so years is so damaging as to be unforgiveable. They have ruined public-school education; left them with so much debt that they will likely be the first American generation to live in a fashion materially inferior to that of their parents; and robbed their innocence with sex-education classes, now beginning in kindergarten in Chicago and elsewhere. Now they are making marijuana available to more kids and in greater potency than ever before.
But they have left them with higher self-esteem.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.