Charles Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation recently wrote an opinion piece for the Daily Caller, warning against the legalization of weed using outdated rhetoric and shoddy data that runs contrary to common sense or any of the latest scientific research. As Weedist rightfully points out, his arguments are akin to what one would expect to hear from vintage propaganda film Reeder Madness. Right from the outset Stimson gets it wrong:
Marijuana is an addictive, gateway drug. It significantly impairs bodily and mental functions, and its use is related to increased violence. These are facts.
But Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at SUNY Albany, doesn’t buy it and wrote a counterpoint eviscerating the erroneous claims one by one:
Numerous polls of scientists and extensive research on humans and animals reveal that the plant’s addictive potential is less than that of caffeine. (See Nutt et al., 2007 in the respected medical journal Lancet and Gore and Earleywine’s chapter in the Oxford University Press book Pot Politics). No study has ever suggested that 30% of those who try it become dependent.
The notion that cannabis is a gateway drug has been so roundly disputed that modern scientific journals rarely publish work on this issue anymore. Most people who try the plant not only do not go on to use hard drugs, they do not even go on to use the plant regularly. Many who use hard drugs do so before they try cannabis, and the vast majority of those who try cannabis have never even seen hard drugs. (See Blaze-Temple and Lo, 1992, in The British Journal of Addiction as one of many, many examples.) In fact, a study published in the August issue of The Journal of School Health asserts that it is actually alcohol use that is a predictor for progression to harder drugs.
The thought that marijuana increases aggression is also in error, as has been established for decades. Laboratory research shows that those who have recently ingested the plant are no more aggressive than those who ingested a placebo, even when they are provoked. (See Myerscough and Taylor, 1985, in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Taylor et al., 1976 in the journalAggressive Behavior.) Once the legal drug alcohol is taken into account, there is no link between cannabis and hostility. (See Denson and Earleywine, 2008 in The Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.)
And he doesn’t stop there. You can read his entire rebuttal here, it’s quite entertaining.