New York City’s former police commissioner, Bill Bratton, fears that voices like his are too few to stop the legalization of marijuana, which he perceives as a Pandora’s box.
Bratton told a morning news radio team, “I still strongly oppose it. I think there are too many unanswered questions. We still don’t have effective capabilities [in] law enforcement to deal with the issue of driving while impaired by the use of marijuana. It is as addictive as any other drug. We don’t really know the full effect of that drug on the development of children . . . young people will be getting their hands on it.”
Bratton does admit that there are a number of potential social benefits of marijuana legalization such as additional taxable revenue and less violent crime. But he believes that broader exposure of the substance to the population will result in more addiction and abuse.
“You can tax marijuana all you want,” he said. “It is still going to be illegally grown and illegally sold. It’s my belief we’re opening up Pandora’s box. Oh well, I think I’m a voice crying in the wilderness, unfortunately.”
The legal professionals at Keller Law Offices say on their site that, “If the Marijuana Justice Act becomes law, it will create a number of changes that impact marijuana-related offenses and consequences of marijuana use.”
Bratton further acknowledges the numerous medical benefits of prescription marijuana. Still, the former lawman believes the harm of legalization and greater social acceptance of marijuana use outweigh the benefits by far.
“Amazing the number of very ill people that California had once it became available for medicinal use,” Bratton told interviewers. “I’m sorry, but I think it’s a mistake to rush headlong into it, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
While many will take the former commissioner’s comments as a sign of his being old fashioned, his arguments are not entirely without merit. In areas where marijuana is relatively legal, there are still illegal and clandestine grow operations producing marijuana products that are sold on the street. Often times, these products are inferior to the expertly grown medical varieties and are laced with other more dangerous drugs to compensate for their lack of potency.
More data regarding the effects of legal marijuana has become available since the plant was made legal for public consumption in Colorado. According to Factcheck.com, marijuana-related traffic accidents in Colorado increased by more than 150% from 2006 to 2014. Emergency room visits believed to be related to marijuana use went up by 40% in that same time period.
After that data came in and was made public almost three years ago, Democrats like Hillary Clinton said they wanted to wait for more facts to come in before making a change to the new regional drug laws. She said, “We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”
Some researchers say the evidence shows that looser marijuana laws actually decrease traffic fatalities. But their research is less robust than that of their detractors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says, “Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction times.”