White House Press Secretary and public enemy Sean Spicer is anti-science and a liar. His attempt to link cannabis to the opioid crisis in this country directly conflicts with the actual evidence. First off, marijuana is not an opioid. Opioids are highly addictive and neurologically dangerous, whereas cannabis is neither. Second, and as we wrote just last week, a recent study out of Mount Sinai showed cannabis to be medically useful in easing the withdrawal symptoms and cravings of heroin (an opioid) users. The opioid epidemic costs the United States $78 billion per year and cannabis could help that. On top of this, multiple studies have shown that opioid use actually declines fairly substantially in states with legalized cannabis. See this serious study as an example. Third, rendering legal cannabis illegal again will not somehow put the entire genie of cannabis consumption back in the bottle. In other words, fully enforcing federal laws against marijuana businesses and users will not make illegal cannabis disappear.
If the DOJ starts cracking down on state legal marijuana businesses and users, the impact on cannabis consumption, especially by routine users, will almost certainly be minimal. Does anyone not remember how prevalent cannabis was before it was legalized? And unleashing a federal firestorm will lead again to arresting mostly young, poor people of color. See Marijuana And Racism: Bearing The Blunt Of The Problem. It will also mean that criminals will go back to profiting from cannabis at the expense of regulated and taxed businesses that provide real jobs and real state tax revenue. See Marijuana Legalization: Bad for the Cartels, Better for All and Cannabis Creates Jobs.
There’s no way state-legal recreational marijuana could cause further “blossoming” of the opioid addiction crisis. There is no way that state-legal recreational cannabis is anything but good for our economy. There is no way that state-legal weed is anything but good for reducing crime. Most importantly, it is no longer the will of the people of the United States to criminalize cannabis by adults. The health and economic benefits of cannabis legalization significantly outweigh any “danger” Spicer wrongly attributes to cannabis. His views on cannabis are a misguided mixture of out-of-touch conservatism and stigma.
Will the Trump administration really lead us back into the dark ages on cannabis? We have our doubts on this. See What Will “Increased Enforcement” Against Recreational Marijuana Really Mean. But it is unequivocally up to us, the people, to ensure that our democratic experiments with marijuana remain intact.