Texas Could See Public Health Benefits with Marijuana Legalization

iStock_000013348762_ExtraSmall.jpgA strong majority of Texans support marijuana legalization according to public policy polling, which revealed Texan support at 58%. With some grass roots indications that Texas is ready to legalize marijuana, many question how legalization could affect the overall public heath of Texas residents. With alcohol abuse and its devastating consequences remaining a major issue in Texas, some people worry marijuana could add to the problem. Researchers have long been trying to figure out whether marijuana legalization would lead to more alcohol consumption (if the drugs are complementary) or if legalization would actually reduce alcohol use (if marijuana is a substitute for alcohol). Finally, there seems to be an answer. It is thought that marijuana use usually replaces alcohol use, and since marijuana is far safer than alcohol, marijuana legalization would lead to a net gain in public health benefits due to less alcohol consumption.

The conclusion comes from Montana State University economist D. Mark Anderson and University of Colorado economist Daniel Rees. Their review of large amounts of evidence found that “studies based on clearly defined natural experiments generally support the hypothesis that marijuana and alcohol are substitutes.” Marijuana acting as a safer substitute for alcohol is visible in many states that have reformed their marijuana laws. For example, the economists’ discovered that states, which legalized medical marijuana, saw a decrease in beer sales and a drop in heavy drinking. This finding is consistent with a prior study showing that states seem to benefit from legalizing medical marijuana by having a 13 percent drop in alcohol related traffic fatalities. Other studies have similarly found that medical marijuana laws were associated with a 12 percent decrease in the rate of fatal crashes where a driver had consumed any alcohol, and a 14 percent drop in crashes involving high levels of alcohol consumption.

Based on the existing empirical evidence on reformed marijuana laws’ effects on public health and safety, Anderson and Rees conclude that marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington State will lead to less overall alcohol consumption and consequently reduce the social harms of alcohol use. Such a reduction in alcohol use would result from the substituted use of marijuana. As objective fact-checkers have pointed out, marijuana is safer than alcohol. On average, marijuana is 100 times less toxic than alcohol. Scientists have not found a single instance of death caused marijuana use. Since marijuana seems to replace alcohol as the substance of choice for many people, marijuana legalization may mitigate the public health harms of alcohol consumption, especially as it relates to drunk driving deaths.

Texas has among the worst drunk driving death rates in the nation. For the past 30 years, nearly half or more of all traffic fatalities in Texas were alcohol related. To reduce Texas’ tragically high drunk driving death rate, lawmakers, should modernize Texas’s marijuana laws. By doing so, lawmakers may not only improve public health and safety, but would act out the will of the majority of Texans who believe in marijuana legalization.

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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.