Every time I hear cannabis reform opponent Kevin Sabet state that the social costs associated with cannabis legalization far outweigh the benefits, I cringe. Not one time have I ever seen him offer up a valid statistic to back up his claim. What Kevin Sabet does is offer up statistics for alcohol and tobacco, and try to pass those facts along as if they apply to cannabis. They do not.
Tobacco and alcohol directly kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Cannabis has never killed anyone. Yes, there have been cases of people dying from some type of act or event, and they had cannabis in their system at the time. But that’s not the same as saying that the person overdosed on cannabis, although it doesn’t stop cannabis opponents from trying hard to make it seem that way. I wish I could sit Kevin Sabet down and somehow make him answer the question ‘what social costs are specifically associated with cannabis legalization, without unrelated statistics from tobacco and/or alcohol?’
Gary Hale was a 31-year veteran of the DEA and is now a nonresident fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. He stated the following according to Chron.Com:
As a former DEA intelligence chief, I know that one of the tools policymakers in public safety and intelligence circles depend upon is predictive analysis, an over-the-horizon view of the landscape that enables them to allocate resources based on realistic threats. These analyses often involve the combination of hard numbers, such as dollars in the budget, and softer criteria that provide patterns and indicators needed to reach a strategic or policy decision. By using these same methods, an objective analyst can see a clearly emerging picture: Marijuana decriminalization and legalization have gone past being a trend and are settling in as federal policy, especially with costs outweighing the benefits of incarcerating so many otherwise nonviolent offenders.
The benefits from cannabis legalization outweigh any costs associated with reform. That’s not the opinion of some uneducated individual; it’s an opinion that is shared by one of the DEA’s longest serving employees who knows first hand how many resources are wasted enforcing cannabis prohibition. Just as The New York Times, noted, it’s time to end cannabis prohibition. It’s time America took a new approach.