Why The Texas Police Chiefs Association Is Wrong About Cannabis MD 420 May 1, 2019 Medical, Political The Texas Police Chiefs Association (TPCA) held a press conference on Marijuana at the State Capital at the end of March 16, 2019. The Facebook video showed many police chiefs circling a podium where one of the police chiefs, Chief Steve Dye, spoke about the “negative impact of legalization” of medical marijuana in other states. They are doing this in opposition of legalization from such an “addictive and dangerous drug.” – See “Why Cannabis Should Not Be a Schedule 1 Drug” in MD420. “Our research has found marijuana in legalized states can increase crime, negatively impact public health, place additional strain on social services, fail to eradicate criminal enterprises and that expenditures often outpace revenue collections,” said Chief Steve Dye with the Grand Prairie Police Department and the Texas Police Chief’s Association. I realize they only know what they know, so I cannot fault them for doing their jobs by thinking they are “protecting the public.” But it did make me realize that the misinformation and misunderstandings are broad and that the same old nonsense used to scare the public and policy makers into believing cannabis is an addictive and dangerous gateway drug still persist today. Much of this same misinformation is also commonly used in the Texas medical community, so I thought I would try to shed some light on this topic so everyone can understand the facts over fiction. CLAIM #1: INCREASED CRIME RATES IN STATES WHERE LEGAL CANNABIS IS PERMITTED Keep in mind that the officers are talking about legalization of “recreational marijuana” and not “medical cannabis” – there is a major difference as to what Texas needs for this session. Medical cannabis is used for medicine. Recreational cannabis is like alcohol – to enjoy leisurely. In an earlier article, I define medical cannabis in a controlled market tracking model. With a dispensary model, there is less control as to who gets what and when. But the information you are about to read doesn’t differentiate between medical or recreational. Early reports in 2014 showed a decrease in overall crime of 14.6% when cannabis became legal. In a CNN article, they show charts for Colorado’s increased crime rates while the US crime rates decreased, but even the Denver Police say it’s inconclusive as to the cause being legal pot. Because of legalized marijuana, Colorado went through a huge spike of population from a massive migration of sick people from all across the country bringing their families to Colorado to access life changing medicine that was not legal in their state. The population, real estate costs, and homeless/transient count also increased. But, that’s not directly related to pot being the cause of crime. Colorado now sells over $128 million in cannabis sales every month, which is heavily taxed and revenue generating for the state – which is used for improving infrastructure, education, and help house the homeless. Car accidents have also increased, but that could be caused by having more people driving on the road. At this point , nothing is conclusively pointing the finger at cannabis as the cause. See the electronic version of MD420 for the link from NORML showing no correlation between increased crime and cannabis. Mexican drug cartel information coming in a little bit. CLAIM #2: NEGATIVE IMPACT ON PUBLIC HEALTH I couldn’t find any proof to this claim at all. This could be more related to increased population in Colorado than cannabis, but there were studies showing de- creased use of alcohol consumption in legal cannabis states which was significantly more toxic and related to violent crimes than cannabis. In fact, studies have shown cannabis to be better for your health while alcohol is detrimental to your health. In addition, medical cannabis has shown a significant positive impact in public health for decreasing opioid use and overdose deaths by 33% in pot legal states. A new paper from the American Medical Association (AMA) shows that while medical marijuana is associated with reduced opioid prescriptions, recreational laws have an even greater effect. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently suggested that pharmaceutical companies oppose marijuana legalization for selfish reasons. “To them it’s competition for chronic pain, and that’s outrageous because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues,” she said. “It’s not the same thing. It’s not as highly addictive or as dangerous as opioids are.” The results of the new studies add to a growing body of research indicating that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid issues and is proving to be an effective cancer and pain medication – so again – another false statement by the police chief. Marijuana has a significant positive effect on Public Health. CLAIM #3: LEGALIZATION OF CANNABIS ADDS ADDITIONAL STRAIN ON SOCIAL SERVICES There is no data available online for this topic either that is directly related to cannabis. The same trigger seems to be more related to increasing population than cannabis related, but the important angle here is that with the reduction of alcohol use in these states, they have reduced the amount of social services being used for domestic violence and murder. An article published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors reported that “alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication- violence relationship,” whereas “cannabis reduces the likelihood of violence during intoxication.” Studies have shown that couples who use cannabis experience lower rates of domestic violence. Furthermore, those who have suffered from domestic violence and assault often use cannabis to treat the PTSD they suffer from because of their past. While cannabis is of course not yet FDA approved, or even legal in some places, for the treatment of such a condition, there have been many anecdotal reports of cannabis working wonders for those who suffer from nightmares, panic attacks, or destructive thoughts. CLAIM #4: FAILURE TO ERADICATE DRUG ENTERPRISES Tell that to the Mexican Drug Cartel! A study from the Economic Journal found legalizing pot is crippling drug trafficking organizations. While the Mexican cartels smuggle other drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine across the border, the market for marijuana is the largest drug market in the U.S. and the one from which the cartels can make the fattest profit. It costs around $75 to produce a pound of marijuana in Mexico, which can then be sold for $6,000 depending on the quality. Researchers studied data from the FBI’s uniform crime reports and supplementary homicide records covering 1994 to 2012. They found that among the border states the effect of the change in law was largest in California, where there was a reduction of 15% in violent crime, and weakest in Arizona, where there was a fall of 7%. The crimes most strongly affected were robbery, which fell by 19%, and murder, which dropped by 10%. Homicides specifically related to the drug trade fell by an astonishing 41%. When the effect on crime is so significant, it’s obviously better to regulate marijuana and allow people to pay taxes on it rather than make it illegal. CLAIM #5: EXPENDITURES OFTEN OUTPACE REVENUE COLLECTIONS This comment was actually laughable. Honestly, I did get a chuckle out of this one. The only research I could find regarding expenditures was focused on how fast the revenues each year were growing and outpacing Marijuana Tax Revenue Goals from previous years. Medical marijuana states have never seen anything like this before. In Colorado, marijuana tax revenue passed alcohol tax revenue on its third year! In Oregon, they even gave a statement on where their money goes: 40%: Common School Fund 20%: Mental Health 15%: State Police Account (Wait, we could get a raise and new squad cars if pot passed?) 10%: Cities 10%: Counties 5%: Oregon Health Authority CONCLUSION: C’MON PEOPLE – LET’S GET SERIOUS HERE. Y’all really need to stop preaching that the world is flat and the sun circles around us when everyone knows that the earth is actually round and we circle the sun. If you folks continue to say cannabis is a dangerous addictive gateway drug when 66% of the United States says it isn’t, it just makes opposing opinion to medical cannabis look stupid! Stop fighting this fight. Please refrain from making unconfirmed false claims, legalize cannabis, keep it controlled in a medical setting, lower costs, raise tax revenue, do some good, save some lives, and make Texas the beacon of doing medical cannabis right!