With the last month’s announcement that the Drug Enforcement Agency will continue to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug, cannabis consumers should be armed with the knowledge necessary to combat the denial of the plant’s medicinal benefits. As drug laws have come to the forefront of America’s political discussion, having some commonly accepted sources might change a few minds during those dinner table discussions; in the long-term, it might change the minds of the DEA before the turn of the century. Jokes aside, here are three studies with interesting conclusions that go against the DEA’s decision:
1. NBER Working Paper – Opioid Overdose Declines in States with Dispensaries
In a July 2015 working paper by Powell, Pacula, and Jacobson of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a study found that states with access to medicinal marijuana have seen statistically significant declines in opioid overdose deaths. In states with dispensaries, the decline in pain relief substance abuse was 15.6 percent — excluding criminal justice referrals, the reduction becomes 17.1 percent. Such a study has become increasingly relevant as drug overdoses involving opioids have increased by 200 percent since 2000 according to the CDC. The paper’s conclusion might go hand-in-hand with the fact that no cases of marijuana overdoses have ever been recorded.
2. The Miron Report – Economic Impact of Legalizing Marijuana
In a June 2005 report by Jeffrey Miron, a visiting economics professor at Harvard, the financial benefits accrue to more than $10 billion annually in both savings from enforcement and revenues generated from taxing the plant. This can be broken down to $7.7 billion in savings from a reduction in enforcement as well as $2.4 to $6.2 billion generated annually depending on taxation levels. This report was then subsequently signed by over 500 economists of which three are Nobel laureates. The paper’s conclusions are further reinforced after $70 million in taxes were collected in Colorado from marijuana sales.
3. The Rat Park Experiment – Addiction as a Form of Coping
A landmark study conducted by Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in 1981 shows how our traditional interpretation of addiction might need some reframing. Traditionally, experiments on addiction were conducted such that rats were given the simple alternative of a drugged and non-drugged solution. When segregated, the rats were constantly using the drugged solution. In the Rat Park experiment, rats were grouped together as well as given toys and ample living space. Rats in the group used the drugged solution 19 times less compared to their separated counterparts. The significance of this study goes counter against how America has treated its addicts as the percentage of people who are in the corrections system for drugs has grown by 78.9 percent from 1990 to 2009.
When we agree to base policy more on facts rather than ideology, society benefits as a consequence. For my fellow cannabis enthusiasts, the easiest way to keep a facts based political process is by staying informed ourselves.
What arguments do you use in favor of marijuana?