Opioid addiction is a crisis, and stories of young people dying from these drugs are heartbreaking. However, Meredith Warren’s column linking these tragedies to legalization of marijuana for adult use is ill-informed and unhelpful (“The opioid battle is lost when marijuana is legalized,” Opinion, June 18).
For many opioid victims, these drugs were not the first they used. Whether it’s alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or something else, there is a correlation between using one drug and using another. But this does not mean that one caused use of the other, and there is scant scientific evidence that for adults marijuana is a gateway drug.
Indeed, the much stronger evidence is that marijuana use is common, and does not lead to addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 91 percent of people can use marijuana without becoming addicted. Alcohol is nearly twice as addictive, and nicotine is more than three times as addictive. That so many people’s experience with marijuana matches these statistics helps explain why legalization for adult use is so popular. Given the likelihood that voters will make this change in the law next year, lawmakers should start working now on how it will be implemented. A good start would be a rational and accurate presentation of the facts.
The writer is chairman of the United Independent Party.