A new federal anti-marijuana campaign has reignited the debate over how dangerous America’s most widely used illegal drug in really is and whether it should be the central focus of the nation’s war on drugs, says the Chicago Tribune. Headlined “Marijuana and your teen’s mental health,” a newspaper and magazine ad nationwide cites recent scientific studies that have found that regular use of marijuana in the teenage years can put users at risk of depression, suicidal impulses and schizophrenia later in life.
“If you want to focus on problem drugs in the U.S., marijuana is the last drug you would focus on,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which favors treating marijuana like alcohol: a legal product that is regulated, taxed, and illegal for minors to use. “We have methamphetamine out there, we have heroin, we have OxyContin, we have booze, we have cigarettes. To make statements that marijuana in the hands of teenagers is this dangerous threat, it’s ludicrous.” A study by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron estimated if pot were legal, that law enforcement would save $7.7 billion, while taxes on the drug could amount to $6.2 billion. Miron’s study was largely funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports liberalizing marijuana laws.