EDITORIAL: Questions hang like cloud over legalizing pot

·2 min read

Dec. 22—Advocates of legal recreational marijuana use in Missouri have their work cut out for them.

A group, Legal Missouri 2022, has launched a campaign that needs 170,000 signatures in six of the state's eight congressional districts to get on the ballot. If successful, any person over the age of 21 could buy, consume, possess or cultivate marijuana for any reason.

We challenged proponents to prove to us that this is safe, including the following questions:

How will it affect users? This from Scientific American in 2013: "Marijuana also temporarily impairs an array of mental abilities, especially memory and attention."

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports, "Several studies have linked marijuana use to increased risk for psychiatric disorders, including psychosis (schizophrenia), depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, but whether and to what extent it actually causes these conditions is not always easy to determine."

Is it safe for others?

This past summer, the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice released its latest report on the impact of recreational marijuana in that state.

"The prevalence of marijuana or marijuana-in-combination identified by Colorado State Patrol officers as the impairing substance in a DUI increased from 12% of all DUIs in 2014 to 31% in 2020. The prevalence of citations reported as marijuana-alone increased from 6.3% in 2014 to 8.7% in 2020, while marijuana-in-combination with alcohol or other drugs increased from 5.7% of citations in 2014 to 22.7% in 2020.

"The number of traffic fatalities where a driver tested positive for any cannabinoid increased 140%, from 55 in 2013 to 132 in 2019."

Also from Scientific American: "Such mild cognitive deficits may not endanger anyone if a marijuana user lazes on the couch, but it is a different story when someone takes that high on the road."

Show us the science that says recreational marijuana can be done safely?

Is it addictive?

This is from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Is it possible for someone to become addicted to marijuana? Yes, about one in 10 marijuana users will become addicted. For people who begin using younger than 18, that number rises to one in six."

We challenge proponents to make their case using the best science.

And we urge Missourians to do their homework before signing any petition to legalize recreational marijuana, lest we get more than we bargained for.

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