The Asbury Park Press and other Gannett newspaper affiliates, including USA Today, published a fairly extensive online debate on Sunday between myself and Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet under the header “Should We Make Marijuana Legal?”
I respond to numerous alarmist claims throughout the interview, including allegations that regulating the adult use of cannabis send s mixed message to youth, leads to increased use by young people, that cannabis is a gateway drug, and even the notion that marijuana prohibitionists are out-funded by reform advocates (as if)!
Here’s an excerpt:
Gov. Christie, who has consistently opposed legalization of marijuana, contends pot is a so-called gateway drug, that people who use pot will eventually graduate to harder, more dangerous substances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it hasn’t found a definitive answer on that question yet. What is your position and what are the most definitive studies you can cite to bolster it?
Armentano: It is time for politicians to put to rest the myth that cannabis is a gateway to the use of other controlled substances — a theory that is neither supported by modern science or empirical data.
More than 60 percent of American adults acknowledge having tried cannabis, but the overwhelming majority of these individuals never go on to try another illicit substance. And by the time these individuals reach age 30, most of them have significantly decreased their cannabis use or no longer indulge in the substance at all. Further, nothing in marijuana’s chemical composition alters the brain in a manner that makes users more susceptible to experimenting with other drugs. That’s why both the esteemed Institute of Medicine and the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center conclude, “Marijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.”
By contrast, a growing body of evidence now exists to support the counter notion that, for many people, cannabis serves as a path away from the use of more dangerous substances — including opioids, alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and tobacco.
You can read and comment on the entire online debate here.
If you are a New Jersey resident, you can also take action in support of marijuana law reform in the Garden State here.