Advocates For The Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana Aren’t Telling The Whole Story


Dear Editor:

     You are hearing a lot from the proponents of recreational marijuana. Specifically, they are quick to point to a new revenue source that they claim will result in hundreds of millions of dollars for the coffers. You might be surprised to hear that’s not the case in other states. As you know, there are two sides to this issue. The colossal costs to society must be thoroughly considered before we embrace legalization. Once you investigate the other side of this issue, it is our hope that you will be alarmed at the significant consequences to families, students, communities, the market place, law enforcement, the environment, first responders, emergency medicine, etc… The public should understand the negative repercussions of this policy before state lawmakers approve recreational marijuana, because it is the public who will reap the fallout.

     There is no question about the negative impact legalization of high potency marijuana is having in other states. The social costs are staggering. We hope this information will be useful as you report on this issue. For example, look at a November 15, 2018 report published by the Centennial Institute titled “Economic and Social Costs of Legalized Marijuana.” I believe it’s the first of its kind. “This report is fair in presenting the economic benefits of commercial marijuana to Colorado including reporting tax revenue, jobs, and overall sales.

     It is contrasted with the economic and social costs of commercial marijuana, which took a very cautious approach in determining costs. Bottom line, the economic and social costs in this report are intentionally low and the comprehensive costs are likely much higher.”

     Here are the important findings from this report:

     • For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization

     • Costs related to the healthcare system and from high school drop-outs are the largest cost contributors

     • Since legalization, the number of college-educated users has increased; however, marijuana use remains more prevalent among those with lower education levels

     • Research shows a connection between marijuana use and the use of alcohol and other substances

      • Calls to Poison Control related to marijuana increased dramatically since legalization of medical marijuana and legalization of recreational marijuana

     • About 15 people are severely burned as a result of marijuana use per year

     • People who use marijuana more frequently tend to be less physically active, and a sedentary or inactive lifestyle is association with increased medical costs

     • Adult marijuana users generally have lower educational attainment than non-users

     • Research does suggest that long-term marijuana use may lead to reduced cognitive ability, particularly in people who begin using it before they turn 18

     • Yearly cost-estimates for marijuana users: $2,200 for heavy users, $1,250 for moderate users, $650 for light users

     • 69% of marijuana users say they have driven under the influence of marijuana at least once, and 27% admit to driving under the influence on a daily basis

     • The estimated costs of DUIs for people who tested positive for marijuana only in 2016 approached $25 million

     • The marijuana industry used enough electricity to power 32,555 homes in 2016 • In 2016, the marijuana industry was responsible for approximately 393,053 pounds of CO2 emissions

     • Marijuana packaging yielded over 18.75 million pieces of plastic

     In addition to this report, the Colorado Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Area puts out a report annually. They report data and information from other agencies so that policy makers and citizens can make informed decisions on the issue of marijuana legalization. The report includes Traffic Fatalities and Impaired Driving, Marijuana Use in all age categories, Public Health, the Black Market, the Marijuana Industry and the Societal Impact.

     The report is available at Lastly, we offer you testimony from several professionals about what they have witnessed firsthand as a result of legalization.

     • the poisoning of wildlife, land and water sources

     • opioid and meth increases

     • hospitalizations, ER visits and poison control center call increases

     • driving fatalities

     • school dropout and absenteeism rate increases

     • increases in youth use and suicides

     These can be found at It’s well worth your while to check them out. We cannot stress enough the importance of learning as much as possible about what is going on in states that have already legalized marijuana. Colorado, California and Washington can give us a glimpse of what may be coming our way in the very near future.

     We believe that the consequences far outweigh the perceived benefits. No Weed Illinois is a coalition that includes mental and health care, addiction and drug prevention, and law enforcement professionals.

Kathy Valente Carol Stream, IL

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