Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legalized?


It’s perfectly consistent to think that smoking marijuana isn’t a good idea, but that the criminal justice system isn’t the right context to deal with it. Not unlike cigarettes, for example. (Although I’d much rather someone be an occasional moderate user of marijuana than a regular smoker of cigarettes, and I think most doctors would agree with me.)


Using marijuana can impair your judgment, motor coordination, ability to concentrate, and slow your reaction time. Therefore, it can impair your driving skills. Anytime the skills needed to drive safely are impaired, even slightly, the chances of having an auto crash increase.

Specifically, studies have found that marijuana use affects the driver’s concentration and ability to perceive time and distance. This may lead to poor speed control, drowsiness, distraction, and the inability to read road signs accurately.

The Chances of Crashing Increases

More than one research study has found a direct link between THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana) concentration in the blood and impaired driving skills.

An analysis of several studies has found that the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash significantly increases after using marijuana. Another meta-analysis estimates that the risk of a crash that results in serious injury or death doubles after marijuana use.

In the 2015 “Traffic Safety Facts: Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk” report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that THC increased crash risk by 1.25 times. This figure took into account contributing factors such as alcohol use and testing procedures for intoxication, so it is actually lower than some contradictory reports.

Some studies also note that high-risk groups for car accidents are those most likely to use marijuana. Most notably, this is young men in their late teens and 20s. This could play a factor in some of the statistics as well.


The criminal aspect will just have their men on the street sell marijuana for less. No one wants to pay taxes so they’ll still turn a profit. Marijuana is not healthy for a person.


I don’t think anyone is arguing that driving while high should be legal.


How many people get arrested for bootleg liquor these days versus during prohibition? Hint: way, way fewer. It still goes on occasionally but most people would prefer to go to a regulated, legitimate liquor store where they know what they’re getting as opposed to buying a jug of moonshine out of someone’s trunk.

So to with weed. Most people in the market for weed will go to licensed, regulated business and avoid going to a sketchy neighborhood and buying it from some guy outside a 7/11


But that’s what’s happening. The insurance industry is watching this closely.


Sure. It happens whether marijuana is legal or illegal. Some people are going to be irresponsible. I know I sound like a broken record here, but how is this different than alcohol? People drive drunk all the time. We criminalize it, we stigmatize it, and we try to educate people about the risks of it. We just apply the same forces to driving while stoned.


Who is monitoring purity and quality? Why not continue buying from the guy on the street who never sold you bad stuff because if he did, he’d lose your business. And the enforcement arm of organized crime is a lot quicker to come down on guys who lose them customers. Plus, there are some people who’d rather not have their face on a security camera. If word gets out that Bob’s Dope House is making money, they’ll get robbed just like a liquor store and unlike liquor, the robber can get rid of what he stole a lot faster. I am amazed that the downside of this is not being brought up more.


Why even start the cycle? Why put people through this? Legalizing is a waste of time and health and does not make sense.


I don’t see it going down like that, ed.

I see your gangsters making deals with shopkeepers to put dope on their shelves with counterfeit or stolen tax stamps being the main new racket. The higher the tax, the more lucrative the market will be for the criminal element. Like they do with cigarette smuggling today


Again, ask all those same questions about alcohol. Why do people prefer going to Joe’s Liquor Store, which is licensed by the state and subject to inspection, when they can buy booze from reputable companies, when they could go to some guy in the woods who brewed some liquor in his bathtub?

Because A) It’s convenient B) It’s legal, so they don’t risk arrest C) they know what they’re getting.

I’m sure there will be still be some dumb college kid selling weed to his friends, but for the most part, people will shift their business to the legitimate options just like they did with booze after prohibition. I mean, why do you think the mob got out of the liquor trade? Because there was no more money in it.


Wishful thinking. This will not go well. There are still plenty of other illegal drugs.


No one’s claiming that this will mean no more drug dealers generally. Obviously, there will still be a criminal underground.


I never wrote that. My point is: the answer to the drug/health problem is not legalizing “recreational” marijuana.


That’s not really an argument, it’s a conclusion. But anyway, I can see that we’re not going to agree, which is fine (although I do appreciate the discussion) but I have to ask: do you think alcohol should be illegal? If not, why not?


I’m signing off. The writing is on the wall. Anyone can find out what actually happened in the US states that have legalized this, plus Canada.

No one will be here wringing their hands if this spreads in the near future.


Fair enough. Just trying to give some food for thought here. If you don’t believe alcohol should be illegal for all the same reasons, it’s hard to take this seriously. The refusal to engage this question is telling.


I guess I disagree with everybody here, which is fine.

But if the MJ issue reverts to the states, (as to my mind it probably should – this is one issue federalism was created to handle), I for one will vote against its legalization. In fact, I think punishments for those who traffic in it should be vastly increased.

I don’t consider everybody using it to be an advantage or desirable, whether they drive or not. It is havoc on the human mind. Indulgence in it needs to be deterred.

Comparisons to alcohol are flawed in that alcohol has always been part of life and human beings don’t willingly give up what they believe they have a ‘right’ to. We are societally stuck with alcohol. That’s not an argument for making matters worse.



Presumably, if it were legalized, there would be some sort of government mandated quality control like there is for all other agricultural products. I’ve been in a couple marijuana dispensaries in my state, and they’re all clean and well managed and the marijuana has clearly labeled THC content and source.


Do you think other drugs will follow?

When I was a kid here in Pennsylvania, we had live parimutuel racing as the only form of legal gambling.

Since then, they added telecast races, lottery, scratch off tickets, interstate lotteries, legal bingo, slots, casino table games, internet gambling, and just now sports gambling.

Will the legalization of drugs take the same road?

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