Recreational marijuana use having been recently legalized in Colorado, the Marijuana Industry (AP’s language) is looking for ways to increase sales. I wrote about this in an April 22nd, 2014 post at The Men Out Of Work Blog: Marketing Marijuana In Colorado…
Though the law has changed, the cultural battle lines are the same. Opponents still argue that marijuana use has risks, especially for youths. Proponents object to the use of stereotypes in campaigns that warn of potential risks. And one thing is for certain – the marijuana industry – whatever you want to call it – has the goal of increasing marijuana sales, and to do that it must minimize any stigma associated with it’s use and increase the customer base. Translation: get more people to use pot.
I don’t think that is a good thing.
Spare me your slings and arrow for a few minutes while I explain. The older I get, the more libertarian I get. Notice the small “l”. Personally, I think that if you want to smoke pot, you should be free to do so. But now that it’s legal, it’s turned into a business. And a business’ first and foremost goal is to grow…and grow…and grow some more. Keep growing, year after year. That means either the same people have to use a lot more pot, or – more likely – more people have to start using and keep using it. And I believe that there is no upside to more people using (or abusing) a mood altering drug.
Spare me the lecture about alcohol. Yes, it’s legal and often abused. That is not an argument for adding one more substance to the pallette of legally abusable substances. Many people use alcohol responsibly. But can you argue that there is a benefit to society if more people use alcohol, responsibly or otherwise? Well, I guess you could argue it, but would you? I wouldn’t.
I am not a prudish teetotaller. I use alcohol. I have used marijuana. In the past, both to excess. In hindsight I can truthfully say that I would not have misssed out on anything had I never used marijuana. Using it had costs to me that were financial, physical and intellectual. Had I been thinking rationally, I would have opted out. But I did not…because I was not thinking rationally…because I was young.
The legalization of a substance, advertising it and minimizing the stigmas associated with it’s use will have an impact on the most impressionable in our society – young people. So let’s be careful. It’s legal, so go ahead, smoke up. Advertise responsibly. But let’s not pretend that there are no risks.
Most of all let’s not hide the risks from young people who are most at risk of making foolish impulsive decisions that may affect them for a lifetime.