You may remember Mark Kleiman as a blogger, but he’s also one of the country’s leading experts on drug legalization — and he says we’re doing it wrong:
In 1992, only 9 percent of current (past-month) cannabis users reported being heavy users (25 or more days per month). In 2014, that figure had risen to 40 percent. Those “daily/near-daily,” or DND, users consume about three times as much per day of use as less-frequent smokers. Right now, there are about 8 million DND users (up about sevenfold over the past two decades). Collectively, they account for more than 80 percent of cannabis sales, which explains why cannabis stores feature the sort of superstrong pot that’s way too intense for many casual users but that heavy users (who have become tolerant to the effects of THC) need to get stoned.
About half of those DND users—4 million people at any one time—self-report the symptoms of cannabis use disorder (the new diagnostic label for what used to be called “abuse” or “dependency”). That’s some combination of: (a) using more, and more often, than they want or intend to; (b) failing in attempts to cut back; (c) spending so much time stoned that it interferes with their other plans and responsibilities; and (d) coming into conflict with people they care about due to their cannabis use.
A key question to ask about any proposal for legalization is “What’s the plan for stemming the growth of cannabis use disorder?” The current answer, from legalizers and prohibitionists alike, is largely the sound of crickets: The legalizers want to downplay the problem while the warriors don’t want to admit the possibility of moderate and therefore harmless use.
Okay, so it is a problem. Not a huge one, but a problem, nonetheless. But no one’s about to kill the pot that produces the revenue stream.
One thought on “We’re doing it wrong”
I’ve known some folks who had a problem with their pot use, but as I grew up in Humboldt County, I guess that’s to be expected. You’re right, it’s a problem which needs addressing, but I still feel legalization is the right choice. For every person I’ve known who had a genuine problem with the actual use of cannabis, I’ve known five, maybe ten who have had their lives adversely impacted by its prohibition.
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