Regarding Mike Kelly’s Commentary “But is it healthy to make America high again?” (August 6, Section O): Kelly at least implicitly acknowledges that marijuana will once again be legal throughout the nation. But there are many flaws in the objections he raises to legalization. While smoking marijuana can have harmful effects, Kelly ignores the fact that people consume marijuana in a variety of forms, including edibles and oils. Marijuana can also be vaped, which eliminates the toxins, irritants, and carcinogens associated with smoking. While studies do show that regular pot smoking inhibits brain development in young people, the laws and proposals relating to legalization restrict sales to adults 21 years and older. And unlike drug dealers, marijuana stores do not have an incentive to sell to minors.
Kelly suggests that we instead decriminalize marijuana, but that leaves in place many of the problems associated with marijuana being illegal: drug gangs, tainted product of unknown potency, warrantless searches, and civil asset forfeiture. He also fails to understand the “gateway” drug issue. The question is not how many hard drug users started with marijuana. The question is how many people who use marijuana go on to harder drugs. Because marijuana is less addictive than nicotine and alcohol, the vast majority of marijuana consumers do not graduate to harder drugs. Finally, Kelly completely misses the point that non-THC marijuana (the kind that doesn’t get you high or addicted) can be an important pain-relieving alternative to prescription opioids.