Society is gradually becoming more liberal – or libertine – in many ways, and one of the latest trends is the gradual legalization of marijuana in one state after another. This past election, voters approved marijuana for legal (recreational) use in Colorado and Washington. Marijuana has been legalized for recreational or medicinal use in 13 states, with more states to consider it soon. 15 million Americans are regular users of marijuana, a little over 5% of of the population. It seems problematic to criticize its legalization from a logical perspective considering alcohol, another psychoactive substance, is legal. If it is acceptable to legalize alcohol, why not marijuana? Libertarians particularly have a problem with the distinction, which seems inconsistent and arguably a restraint upon freedom.
Legalizing marijuana is not so black and white of a decision as its supporters claim. Marijuana legalization proponents claim that marijuana is not dangerous like alcohol. The facts reveal otherwise. 15 percent of shock-trauma patients who were injured in car accidents had marijuana in their blood, and another 17 percent had both marijuana and alcohol in their blood. 33% of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drug use had drugs in their system; 3,952 drivers total in 2009. Marijuana is the second most commonly found psychoactive substance among drivers after alcohol. In 2009, 376,000 emergency room visits nationwide involved marijuana.
There is a strong correlation between marijuana use and crime. 60% of those arrested across the U.S. test positive for marijuana. This isn’t just crime related to drug use, there is a positive correlation between chronic marijuana use and increased risk of violent behavior. In fact, there is a stronger correlation between property crimes and frequent marijuana use than there is with alcohol use or other illegal drug use, particularly among teenagers. A study of postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more accidents, 85% more injuries and a 75% increase in being absent from work.