Debunking a New York Times Editorial

Glasses with alcoholIn a recent article published on the Hudson Institute website, a leading drug policy researcher, David Murray, wrote an article titled "Comparing Marijuana and Alcohol: Seriously."

In the article, Mr. Murray set to deconstruct claims that marijuana is relatively safe, or at least safer than alcohol.

The article was intended to undermine a recent New York Times editorial endorsement of marijuana legalization.

Some of the major points made by Mr. Murray were:

  • A central point is that virtually everything that the New York Times thinks they know about marijuana's effects is based on old anecdotes (including personal experimentation), cultural perceptions, and in some cases, even legitimate research derived from a time when marijuana was, on average, one-fifth to one-sixth as powerful as it is today.
  • To compound the threat, the mean age for initiating marijuana use today is 18, with a substantial number of 12-15 year-olds starting every year. They are at an even greater developmental risk than the older, young adult initiates of the past. ...
  • Simply put, were marijuana (or cocaine) to be legal, and subject to comparable access and use patterns by subjects on a daily basis, the impact on their dangers as found in dependency and addiction rates, while unknown, would likely be staggering. ...
  • No one is trying to underplay the dangers to be found in alcohol consumption. It's a substance with known risks and exorbitant costs. But to argue that because alcohol is dangerous, therefore we should admit cannabis, the true risks of which we are just discovering, into the same regulatory regime of access and use, is certainly not justified by the actual research. Moreover, the pervasive reportorial neglect, ignorance, and distortion concerning marijuana are, at best, unprofessional. ...
  • It cannot be stressed enough: virtually every month major research findings are confirming the impact of THC as a neurotoxin with no safe dose; the cumulative literature is becoming inescapable. Marijuana use changes the brains of users, and the more and earlier they smoke, the more comprehensive and lasting the potential damage. A causal argument is not yet made, but neither is it required for prudent public policy action.
  • There is now sufficient evidence to establish that we are putting our children – all our children, including the minority and the vulnerable — at risk by increasing access to a poison. ...

Mr. Murray's article is available here.

 

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Monday, 22 October 2018
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