Even as the news that overdose deaths in the US rose dramatically during the pandemic, Democratic lawmakers were announcing their bid to federally legalize marijuana. The move for legalization, spear-headed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, was criticized as tone-deaf in the wake of the news on overdoses.
Luke Niforatos, executive vice president for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told The Cats Roundtable that the blind spots in marijuana legalization outweigh the benefits touted by Democratic lawmakers, calling the push for the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act simply “crazy.”
“Our country is in the middle of an addiction crisis,” Niforatos explained. “Drugs are literally killing people all across our country, yet here we are.”
Niforatos pointed to the shadowy involvement of big tobacco and big pharma in the emerging marijuana industry, and railed Senator Schumer and other Democratic senators for letting “a whole new industry make a bunch of money off of this drug and addict a lot of people.”
As strides have been made to limit the scope and influence of big tobacco over the youth of the country, Niforatos found it ridiculous the US would now curry legislation that gives them the equivalent of a second shot, minus the regulations.
This is particularly true with the potency of marijuana now being found in states that have legalized recreational use, with THC concentrates whose addictive qualities have not been fully understood or researched. Niforatos pointed to his home state of Colorado, the first to legalize recreational marijuana use and the rise in marijuana-impaired accidents, and the often blatant advertisement towards the youth of the state by marijuana companies. He told The Cats Roundtable he believes the “nightmare” of a federally authorized marijuana industry will only “hurt people more and more” for the sake of corporate bottom lines.
The “big myth,” and the main argument for supporters of marijuana legalization surrounds the taxing of the industry, which Nifaoratos was quick to dispel. He told The Cats Roundtable that the money that states that have legalized marijuana are “pennies on the dollar” compared to the numbers promised by marijuana advocates.
Economics aside, the effect upon the communities where recreational marijuana has been legalized is only now beginning to be proven with the data. Niforatos pointed to the dramatic increase in marijuana-impaired vehicle accidents, permanent IQ loss for children and teens who consumed marijuana, as well as the rise of marijuana-induced mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia.
“We’ve seen about a 70 percent increase in our marijuana-impaired driving deaths in Colorado,” he said. “So, unfortunately,. you’re really going to need to watch the impaired driving.”
And despite the push back by marijuana advocates that THC is a gateway drug, it’s undeniable marijuana is often the first vector into harder substances.
“Marijuana, whether people like it or not, has a way of smoothing the path to other drugs,” Niforatos explained. “And there’s just no getting around that, that’s what the research tells us.”
The vice president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana encouraged Americans to get active at the federal level and to actively reject Schumer and other lawmaker’s efforts to legalize marijuana even before they get their facts straight.
“You need to get active at the federal level,” he insisted adding it would be a blunter of catastrophic magnitude to pass such sweeping drug legislation before the data came in.