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The result of this is that marijuana use, while illegal, is already tolerated and viewed as harmless by a large number of people.
A 2011 study sampled over 1700 medical marijuana patients in California.
The report suggested that some medical users ‘gamed the system’ by exaggerating symptoms or needs to obtain medical marijuana for recreational purposes.
This pressure will be felt even more if the drug is no longer completely illegal but is given a quasi-legal status.
Such a status will serve only to increase the levels of peer pressure that is placed on vulnerable youngsters to experiment with the drug because ‘it’s not really illegal’.
(This is equivalent to two thirds of all substance addicts in the US).
Many people like to draw parallels between alcohol and marijuana but for the purposes of this point the best comparison is gambling.
There is no evidence that legalizing marijuana in any way shape or form would act in a similar way, acting as a gateway to illegal use.
Of course there would be a thriving legal market but more potent substances would be made available ‘under the table’.
Studies on the use of methadone, an opiate provided on prescription to treat heroin addiction in the UK showed that of the 167 methadone related deaths over half of them related to prescription methadone that had been sold on the black market.
Concerns have been raised that a similar effect could be seen with the diversion of medical marijuana to the black market in the US.