Thankfully, we have several years worth of drug use data from the eight states that have already taken the legalization plunge. So instead of empty emotional appeals, what we have are testable hypotheses. Has legalization damaged young lives? Has it led to more driver deaths? Has it created more addicts? Has it led to increased public costs?
Omdahl begins by promoting a false equivalency between marijuana addiction and opioid, nicotine and alcohol addiction. In 2016, 54 people died of an opioid overdose in North Dakota and there were 161.5 opioid related hospitalizations per 100,000 people. Contrast that with marijuana use. The DEA reports that no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. That’s because, per the National Institutes of Health, there is no lethal dose for cannabis use. There is no equivalency to be made between the two drugs and doing so is nothing more than fear-mongering and is intellectually dishonest.
Omdahl suggests that we will see a “…fresh supply of addicts” in North Dakota from legalization. Does he believe there is a demographic of non-drug users lounging around sipping iced tea on Friday nights, biding their time until weed is legalized so they can jump into the addiction game? Of course there isn’t.
Has legalization actually increased the number of new drug users in other states? No. In fact, there is evidence that marijuana can actually replace hard drugs so that legalization will decrease opioid use and decrease hospitalizations associated with opioid use.
Although his anecdotes about fifth-graders selling weed are provocative and compelling, anecdotes aren’t trends. In Colorado, teen use of marijuana has plummeted to its lowest point in decades, just a few years after legalization. This is happening in large part because revenue from drug sales are funneled into public health campaigns to reduce the use