- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2022

The high life is progressing from a pipe dream toward reality as the legalization of marijuana moves another step forward. While tokers view the right to smoke as their birthright in the land of the free, Americans one and all will be forced to cope with a surge in violence associated with the planting of weed outlets nationwide.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, has been included among bills expected to reach the House floor for a vote this week. The measure would decriminalize cannabis on the federal level, establish a process for expunging criminal records for certain drug convictions and place a tax on marijuana sales to fund programs meant to assist communities battered during the war on drugs.

For chief sponsor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, it’s a second try to move the bill to law after it passed the House in 2002 only to die in the Senate. Commonsense Americans can only hope 60 level heads remain in the Senate ready to vote down the addle-witted measure.

Impatient with Congress, at least 37 states, four territories and the District of Columbia have already moved to subvert federal law by legalizing the weed for medical purposes. Eighteen states, two territories and the District have gone further, approving the drug for recreational use.

By flogging the fad, those jurisdictions have given up on following the science, which points categorically to the deleterious effect of cannabis on the human brain. Nevertheless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not softened its warning about the mental health dangers of cannabis use:

“People who use marijuana are more likely to develop temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations, and paranoia) and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that are not really there.” Moreover, says the CDC, “The association between marijuana and schizophrenia is stronger in people who start using marijuana at an earlier age and use marijuana more frequently.”

A 2020 study published by the National Institutes of Health illustrates the cannabis-violence connection, reviewing 14 cases in which heavy users erupted in deadly attacks on innocents. Among them is the 2018 attack at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students dead. Guilty-pleading shooter Nikolas Cruz, the study recounts, “would frequently ‘hear demon voices’ and would consume large amount of marijuana to try and silence those voices.”

Anecdotes, of course, do not denote nationwide trends. Still, it is inevitable that with federal legalization of pot, the nation’s youth will face a future featuring readily available opportunities for trendy intoxication, particularly ones that cause their thoughts to wander fearfully through an inner world of paranoia.

Reclassifying vice as virtue won’t make for healthier and safer communities. Marijuana sends the superlative — yet vulnerable — human mind up in smoke. It’s called “dope” for a reason.

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