Regulating Marijuana like Tobacco – Would it Likely Reduce Adolescent Use of Marijuana?

iStock_000001725183XSmall.jpgIn spite of the harsh criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession, a study by the American Journal of Public Health has not found any evidence to support the belief that criminalization of marijuana use actually reduces marijuana usage.

The problem of marijuana remaining the most popular drug of choice among teenagers, despite decades of enforcing a policy that criminally punishes marijuana possession, obviously cannot be solved by continuing the failed policy of outlawing marijuana use.

Many concerned parents, such as the parent group Guarding Our Children against Marijuana Prohibition have recognized the failure of marijuana prohibition to deter marijuana access and have pointed out statics which show that, for many high school students, marijuana is “very easy” or “fairly easy” to get.

Even though cigarette use is legal, the long-term trend of teenage cigarette use has been dropping dramatically. The long-term trend for teenage marijuana use, on the other hand, has been increasing significantly.

In my view, the regulation of tobacco has created effective barriers which prevent tobacco access for adolescents, and thus successfully reduced tobacco use for those who are not adults. Tobacco vendors, if they want to stay in business, must abide by laws prohibiting adolescent tobacco use. No such form of control exists for marijuana dealers; therefore they do not have any financial incentive nor commercial obligation to refrain from selling to teenagers. Simply put, marijuana dealers do not ask for ID. By regulating marijuana like tobacco or other legal drugs, teenage marijuana use would be more effectively reduced.

Reform of marijuana laws has been successful in reducing teenage marijuana use in Portugal. The Cato Institute found that five years after Portugal made personal possession no longer criminal, illegal drug use as whole among teenagers dropped.

One does not necessarily have to look to another country to see the reduction in teenage marijuana use as a result of reformed marijuana law. A 2012 report from the Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice discovered that, as a result of marijuana law reform in California, simple marijuana possession arrests of California juveniles fell from 14,991 in 2010 to 5,831 in 2011, a 61 percent decrease.

In 1997, the Texas legislature passed tobacco laws which limited minors’ access to tobacco and thus prevented many young people from developing a lifetime of tobacco addiction and possible disease and death. If Texas legislature wishes to also limit adolescent use of marijuana and thereby prevent any possible addictions or health detriments associated with marijuana, the legislature would be wise to regulate the substance. The tobacco regulations which Texas already enforces could be expanded to include marijuana, and doing so would better ensure that children and teenagers are successfully discouraged from using the substance.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.  www.ggglawfirm.com.

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.