A bipartisan draft called “The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act,” introduced into Pennsylvania’s Senate as SB 1182 by Senators Mike Folmer (R) and Daylin Leach (D), has many crying foul. The fear is that it is using a “noble cause” to sneak in an unpopular political agenda item. States have done this before with issues such as gambling, bringing in $1 Lotto play as a way to “help the elderly”; from there came slot machines, and then table games to “help reduce taxes.” Soon enough there were full blown casinos and the resultant crime and other issues associated with them.
The GOP fears that the introduction of legalized medical marijuana nationwide could have the same gradual, insidious effect. What starts out as an honorable mission to assist the medically-challenged in their time of need could eventually lead to all sorts of societal ills. Republicans feel it’s time to invoke that famous slogan from the D.A.R.E. for the last three decades and “Just Say No!” to legalized marijuana use in any form.
Marijuana trafficking has been historically linked to a wide spectrum of crimes, from assault to murder to smuggling and money laundering. The GOP believe that the legalization of marijuana would inevitably increase demand for the drug and by extension exacerbate drug-related crime. There could also be a myriad of unforeseen consequences.
An astonishingly high percentage of criminals happen to be marijuana users. A study by the RAND Corporation found that about 60% of those arrested test positive for marijuana use in the U.S. While some studies show marijuana reduces violent and aggressive behavior, the National Research Council found that long-term use of marijuana could alter the nervous system to actually promote violence. Amsterdam is often cited as an example, a city known for its relaxed attitude toward drugs. However, it is also one of Europe’s most violent cities.
California allows the sale of medical marijuana with a prescription and it is already showing Amsterdam-like effects. Neighborhoods surrounding “cannabis clubs” in Los Angeles have experienced a 200% increase in robberies, 52% increase in burglaries, 57% more aggravated assaults, and 131% increase in automobiles break-ins with theft. Full legalization of pot would likely exacerbate this trend even further.