It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana: A Public Health Perspective

Article by J. Wesley Boyd, Psychology Today


Marijuana reform is on the ballot in a number of states around the US, and as physicians and citizens we believe it ought to be fully legalized.

Marijuana is safer than tobacco or alcohol, but that hasn’t stopped the tobacco and alcohol industries from lining up against legalizing cannabis.  Apparently these industries view marijuana as a direct competitor. The reality is that marijuana is safer from ahealth perspective: Tobacco is the biggest killer by far, doing in over 1000 Americans a day. And alcohol is our third biggest killer through both its direct adverse health effects but also by drunk drivers or alcohol fueled fighting and abuse.

Marijuana is also safer from an addiction perspective: The best estimates are that 9% of marijuana users are dependent. That is less than the number of users of tobacco (32%) or alcohol (approximately 10-15%) who become dependent on those substances.

But these are not the only industries that have lined up against legalization.  The pharmaceutical industry is also firmly against legalizing marijuana, and a recently published study shows why.  The study, published in Health Affairs, found that in those states that approved medical marijuana legislation, there were significant decreases in prescriptions filled to treat a number of disorders, including anxiety, depression, nausea, and sleep disorders.  Additionally, there were dramatic decreases in the number of prescriptions written for painkillers.

Read full article here.

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