Eliz Markowitz, who is among the eight candidates running for two seats on the Katy ISD Board of Trustees, recently published a pro-marijuana legalization post on Facebook.
“…Someone commented that we could get a new revenue stream by legalizing marijuana,” Markowitz said. “My response was: ‘I said this exact same thing when I ran for HD28!’”
“‘Finally, the legalization of marijuana could create a new revenue stream. If Texas were to tax the sale of marijuana at a 15 percent tax rate, the state would pull in nearly half a billion dollars in tax revenue the first year,” Markowitz said.
“‘Not only would Texas benefit from the sales tax, but the state would also save a significant amount of funding from eliminating trials and incarcerations of marijuana-offenders.’”
A decade ago, a public comment of this nature may have shocked local residents and discredited Markowitz’s campaign for the board of trustees. Yet in recent years, U.S. public opinion on legalizing marijuana has drastically shifted.
This map, updated earlier this month, depicts the 18 states with fully legalized marijuana laws and ten states with medical and decriminalized marijuana laws. In two states, marijuana is decriminalized, and in seven states, Texas included, solely CBD oil is legalized. In fact, only four states have maintained a “fully illegal” marijuana status.
As displayed on this map, states vary tremendously across the nation regarding marijuana legality. A federal marijuana legalization bill is officially scheduled for a U.S. House of Representatives floor vote next week, and amendments to this bill have been filed.
Proponents of marijuana legalization cite its medicinal and therapeutic properties and argue that marijuana legalization would create economic benefits, such as an increase in tax revenue. Supporters also say that legalization may reduce the presence of dangerous foreign drug cartels in the U.S.
Yet to no surprise of our readership, mainstream news is agenda-driven and does not always portray the full spectrum of an issue. But there are several untold consequences of marijuana legalization.
“There are already several countries that have accepted marijuana as a soft drug, separating it from more dangerous ones. Various therapeutic properties have even been attributed to its use,” said one 2014 study published in the National Library of Medicine.
“Others, however, think that its use should be prohibited due to the mental interference and behavioral changes produced either by its occasional use as well as the permanent mental damage linked to chronic marijuana use.
“It is concluded that there is a serious risk, especially for teenagers, associated [with] chronic marijuana use, due to the presence of more frequent psychotic and schizophrenic episodes, which can be permanent, while consumption during pregnancy results in brain damage to the fetus, similar to fetal alcohol syndrome,” a study published by Chilean researcher, surgeon and medical doctor Fernando Mönckeberg said.
“Scientific research also indicated that smoking marijuana produces an even more severe bronchial damage than tobacco, with risk of lung cancer. In conclusion, the notion that marijuana is a risk-free soft drug is a serious mistake, based on the available conclusive scientific research that shows the opposite.”
As evidenced in this study, marijuana is not a risk-free drug. Chronic use of marijuana is associated with serious psychiatric issues, which may be permanent; fetal brain damage; and bronchial damage with an elevated risk of lung cancer.
According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), marijuana use during pregnancy is hazardous to fetal health.
“Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, premature birth, stillbirth and problems with brain development, resulting in hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals from marijuana can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk, further impacting a child’s healthy development.”
Marijuana is Addictive in Nature
Additionally, marijuana legalization proponents allege that weed is not as addictive as “harder” drugs, such as heroin, but addiction treatment specialists have witnessed firsthand that chronic use can lead to dependence and addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Marijuana dependence occurs when the brain becomes accustomed to large amounts of the drug by reducing production of and sensitivity to its own endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.”
“Marijuana use disorder has developed into an addiction when the person cannot stop using the drug despite its interference with many aspects of life,” said NIDA.
“Studies suggest that 9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. This number increases to about 17% among those who start during their teenage years.”
Research suggests that like in other substance abuse cases, stopping marijuana use will lead to withdrawal symptoms, which range from anxiety to irritability. Thus, marijuana is addictive in nature.
Marijuana and Mental Health
Regular marijuana use has severe consequences on mental wellbeing and brain health. According to SAMHSA, “…marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points when people start using it at a young age. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana.”
“Using marijuana can affect performance and how well people do in life. Research shows that people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction,” said SAMHSA.
Additionally, various studies link marijuana use to mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations and psychotic episodes.
“Marijuana use can trigger psychotic symptoms (from observable clinical studies of purified THC) in 40% of people with no family history of psychosis,” said one 2019 study in the National Library of Medicine.
“Regular recreational marijuana users had psychotic disorders at a greater rate than any other recreational drug. More than cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, LSD, PCP, or alcohol. The risk of negative mental health effects is increased about five times by regular use of high potency marijuana,” said David G. Evans, JD.
“The marijuana products of today are high in potency and can reach 99 percent pure delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),”said Evans. THC, which is the component in marijuana that causes the “high,” can lead to addiction, mental illness, violence, crime, traffic deaths, and many other health and social problems.
“Research linking marijuana use to psychosis, schizophrenia and acts of violence is uniformly ignored by the proponents of marijuana use.
“The American Psychiatric Association and other authorities report that current evidence supports, at a minimum, a strong association of marijuana use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. A recent book by a former New York Times reporter details the research showing that the chronic use of marijuana leads to mental illness and violence.”
Marijuana Behind the Wheel
Marijuana is classified as a mind-altering (psychoactive) drug, which by definition would affect a user’s perception while under influence.
People who drive under the influence of marijuana can experience dangerous effects such as slower reactions, lane weaving, decreased coordination, and difficulty reacting to signals and sounds on the road, said SAMHSA.
Low to moderate doses distort perception enough to cause traffic accidents. In fact, studies show that marijuana is one of the most prevalent illegal drugs found in fatally injured and impaired drivers.
In Colorado, where marijuana is fully legalized, “55% of marijuana users surveyed by the Colorado Department of Transportation said they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. Within that group, the same percentage said they had driven high in the past 30 days, on an average of 12 times,” said a peer-reviewed journal in the National Library of Medicine.
“A recent analysis of federal traffic fatality data by the Denver Post found that the number of Colorado drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled since 2013.”
An article by National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC), which analyzed the states that have legalized marijuana and the marijuana related problems they have, uncovered shocking statistics.
“Alarmingly, 69 percent of marijuana users say that they have driven under the influence, and 27 percent of them, daily. People who use marijuana daily or near daily indicate that they are 25 to 50 percent more likely to develop cannabis use disorder. In Colorado, the cost to treat cannabis use disorder is $31,448,905,” said NNOAC.
“Colorado has issued such reports yearly since 2013, showing steady increases of the negative effects to health, motor vehicle deaths, adolescents’ school issues, mental health, poison control, and many social problems, including black markets that continue to thrive.”
Marijuana Legalization Will Not End the Black Market
One key argument by proponents of marijuana legalization is that legalization will end black market purchases and lessen the presence of foreign drug cartels that bring marijuana into the U.S.
Law enforcement officers in marijuana-legalized states dispute this claim.
“California just had to call out the national guard to deal with 22 years of growing marijuana ‘medicine.’ In 1996, California passed a ‘medical’ marijuana law. They recently legalized recreational marijuana thinking it would end black market sales. California had over 22 years to get this right. It is a disaster,” said a journal published in 2019.
“Governor Gavin Newsom, an early backer of recreational marijuana use, is now trying to stamp out California’s black market. Newsom announced in February 2019 he would ‘boost the National Guard’s statewide Counterdrug Task Force by redeploying up north to go after illegal cannabis farms, many of which are run by Mexican drug cartels.’”
“‘So, the black market hasn’t been curtailed, but it’s probably been accelerated,’ says a local sheriff. “Black market marijuana is cheaper to buy,” said the journal.
“There is evidence of a persistent black market for marijuana, which may increase the presence of Mexican drug cartels that are bringing in other drugs like heroin.”
The National Sheriffs’ Association, the National District Attorneys Association and the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition noted that states that legalized marijuana have been unable to control the black market for the drug, said the journal.
“…Oregon State Police reported that 70 percent of marijuana transactions remain illegal, despite legalization laws. Marijuana is sold on the street in legalized states and exported in vast quantities to other, non-legalized jurisdictions.
“There are even reports of foreign drug cartels, including Mexican cartels, moving operations to Colorado to take advantage of lax marijuana laws. According to the California Police Chiefs’ Association, there is ample documentation of the many adverse effects of marijuana legalization in addition to the violations of federal law.”
Economic and Societal Consequences of Legalization
Furthermore, proponents for fully legalizing marijuana often cite poll results indicating overwhelming public support. This is not shocking, considering all we see on mainstream media is rosy revenue projections from marijuana taxation and potential medicinal benefits of the drug.
However, we are not being given the whole story. The public must be informed of the proven health, public safety, economic and social risks posed in states which have already fully legalized marijuana.
As an article by CNBC indicates, “important lessons can be learned from two widely used legal drugs. While both alcohol and tobacco are taxed and regulated, the tax benefits to the public are vastly overshadowed by the adverse consequences of their use.”
“Alcohol-related costs total over $185 billion while federal and states collected an estimated $14.5 billion in tax revenue… tobacco use costs over $200 billion but only $25 billion is collected in taxes.
“These figures show that the costs of legal alcohol are more than 12 times the total tax revenue collected, and the costs of legal tobacco are about 8 times the tax revenue collected. This is an economically disastrous tradeoff.”
Similarly, tax revenue collected from legal and regulated marijuana will not surpass the financial consequences of the drug, which could range from vehicle collisions and road damage to state-funded treatment centers for those with marijuana dependence.
“Who will pay for the rehabilitation of marijuana users? Connecticut was [subjected] to lawsuits against the cigarette industry for health effects of smoking cigarettes. How will Connecticut handle the fallout of legalization when Connecticut citizens develop serious health issues? Who will the state sue then? Itself? Big Marijuana business? Will taxpayers just pay for their grand experiment again?” said NNOAC.
“Since the argument in support of legalized marijuana in Connecticut continually focuses on projected revenue, consider this: For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization.”
Furthermore, the costs of legalizing marijuana will not only be financial. New marijuana users would not be limited to adults if marijuana were legalized, just as regulations on alcohol and tobacco do not prevent use by youth. When marijuana use is made legal in states, the drug’s accessibility to children will increase.
Marijuana use can deal serious blows to the developing minds and bodies of children, who do not exhibit the same responsibility, reasoning and judgment of adults.
“Rapidly accumulating new research shows that marijuana use is associated with increases in a range of serious mental and physical problems. Lack of public understanding on this relationship is undermining prevention efforts and adversely affects the nation’s youth and their families,” said NNOAC.
While heavily marketed as a risk-free drug, marijuana is anything but. Overuse of this psychoactive substance poses severe effects to one’s physical and mental health, and on a broader scale, it poses numerous public safety, criminal and financial concerns. These effects are heightened when the drug ends up in the hands of children, who are still vulnerable and developing.
Eliz Markowitz painted an idealistic picture of legalization of marijuana, which in Texas, is currently restricted to CBD only.
“Not only would Texas benefit from the sales tax, but the state would also save a significant amount of funding from eliminating trials and incarcerations of marijuana-offenders,” Markowitz said.
Unfortunately, Markowitz’s mindset is all too common now. Marijuana is misrepresented as a mild, hippy-lifestyle substance, rather than a serious psychoactive drug with dangerous ramifications if misused.
Do we really want someone like this on the Katy ISD School Board making important decisions about your child’s education?