On Jan. 1, [2014,] Colorado made history as the first jurisdiction in the modern era to license the retail sales of marijuana.
Colorado’s experience, ironically, might eventually teach us that legalization’s worst enemy is itself.
Constantly downplaying the risks of marijuana, its advocates have promised reductions in crime, flowing tax revenue and little in the way of negative effects on youth. We shouldn’t hold our breath, though.
Those are the words of “the quarterback of the anti-legalization movement”, Kevin Sabet. He’s the founder of the nation’s leading anti-legalization organization, Project SAM. Back on January 17, 2014, he wrote an op-ed in the Washington Times entitled, “Colorado will show why legalizing marijuana is a mistake“.
Sabet was certain that once the specter of “Big Marijuana” was unleashed on the American public, we’d see the results of a predatory drug industry luring our kids into a life of stoned depravity. We’d see the increases in crime, social costs that dwarf tax revenues, and we’d come to oppose marijuana legalization.
Unfortunately for Sabet, American pollsters keep asking us what we think of marijuana legalization and, despite “Big Marijuana” establishing a foothold in three states already, we keep saying we support marijuana legalization, culminating in four more states passing legalization in the past election.
The Harris Poll is the latest and probably last in 2016 to ask about marijuana legalization. Fifty percent of its respondents support the issue, up a point from the time they asked last year. Harris has the lowest level of support of six polls that asked the question this year. AP, Gallup, and PRI all recorded polls of support at 60 percent or higher.
How is it that after three years of legal marijuana sales in Colorado, two-and-a-half years in Washington, and one-and-a-half years in Oregon, the American public overwhelmingly supports marijuana legalization?
Could it be because the people in those three states seem to believe their legalization of marijuana is a success?
- Poll: 66% In Oregon View Marijuana Legalization Favorably
- 51 percent of respondents said they would oppose a measure to repeal [Colorado’s] Amendment 64
- Less than 5% of those who voted for [Washington’s] marijuana legalization would change their votes, whereas 14% of those who voted against legalization would change their votes.
Or because Sabet’s scaremongering about youth use increases have proven unfounded?
- Since the advent of the marijuana legalization era (2012), younger teen use of marijuana has declined dramatically, while oldest teen use of marijuana has remained steady.
- Four of the five states and D.C. that had marijuana legalization saw declines in teen marijuana use (three in the top ten).
Or because the fear there would be stoned mayhem on the freeways never materialized?
- Medical Marijuana States Have Lower Traffic Fatality Rates
- Fewer people charged in Colorado with driving while high in 2015
Or because marijuana tax revenues have far exceeded any imaginary social costs Kevin Sabet won’t quantify?
- Colorado marijuana shops sold more than $1 billion of cannabis in first 10 months of 2016
- Report: Colorado weed is now a behemoth with a $2.4 billion economic impact
Whatever the reason, since Kevin Sabet wrote that op-ed, there have been 22 national polls on legalizing marijuana. Only one of those polls showed more opposition than support. If my team’s quarterback was 1-21 after three seasons, I’d demand that the coach send him to the bench.