Marijuana: Another Gift of the Left to America’s Youth

Denver television station CBS4 reports that Colorado has seen a sharp spike in marijuana use among teenagers since Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 last November legalizing recreational use of the drug. As described in The Economist, along with a Washington State measure also legalizing marijuana, Amendment 64 is “an electoral first not only for America but for the world.”

That means two American states are to the left of the Scandinavian countries, Holland, and every other liberal country regarding marijuana.

CBS4 quotes a number of local high school students:

“I’ve seen a lot more people just walking down the street smoking (joints),” high school student Irie Johnson said.

“In high school it has kind of gotten out of hand,” student Alaina Tanenbaum said.

According to the CBS4 report, based in part on data from a local drug testing lab: “Experts say the test results show that children are getting higher than ever with alarming levels of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, in their bodies.”

The massive increase in both the number of users and the amount of marijuana used by young people is precisely what I, and many others, predicted.

It was easy to predict.

When something desirable is made easier to obtain, more people will obtain it. It is difficult to imagine an exception to this common sense observation.

So, legalizing marijuana is foolish because it leads to far more use of the drug and the availability of ever more potent forms. But the foolishness doesn’t end there. Equally foolish is that as a society we have made peace with marijuana while making war on tobacco. This has been a classic example of upside down thinking, and we are reaping exactly what we have sown. We have produced a generation of young Americans who would never put a cigarette or cigar near their lips but who increasingly get high on pot.

Yes, tobacco — specifically cigarettes — kills and marijuana doesn’t. But, forgive the ultimate political incorrectness, young people would do much better in life if they smoked tobacco rather than weed.

First, tobacco doesn’t kill young people. When it kills, it generally kills much older people. Moreover, according to a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, if you stop smoking cigarettes by age 44, you will lose only one more year of life than a person who never smoked.

Second, regular pot smokers increasingly tune out of life, becoming what are known as potheads, or, to put it bluntly, losers.

Third, as noted in the CBS4 report, “new studies that have been published say the risk of a car accident increases two-fold after someone consumes pot.” In other words, innocent human beings — sometimes whole families — are more likely to be maimed, paralyzed and killed by pot smokers than by cigarette smokers.

For myriad reasons, then, I would far prefer my teenager indulge in cigarettes — not to mention cigars — than pot. Anyone who thinks that pot is less harmful to a teenager than tobacco is fooling himself — and his teenager.

If this is not obvious, ponder these questions: Would you rather your airplane pilot smoke pot or tobacco while flying? How would Britain have fared in World War II if Winston Churchill had smoked pot instead of cigars?

In terms of the effects of tobacco and pot on the smoker while smoking, there is simply no comparison between pot and tobacco.

What the left has done to America’s youth in the last 40 or so years is so damaging as to be unforgiveable. They have ruined public school education; left them with so much debt that they will likely be the first American generation to live materially inferior to the their parents; and robbed their innocence with sex education classes, now beginning in kindergarten in Chicago and elsewhere. Now they are making marijuana available to more kids and in greater potency than ever before.

But they have left them with higher self-esteem.

Dennis Prager’s latest book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph,” was published April 24 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.Com.


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  • wally12

    Some good points in this article. I agree that it would be better if children smoke tobacco than pot. However, they are now smoking pot that at present is illegal. I suspect that most of these same kids were smoking pot prior to being legalized in CO. Now they are just more open about it. My inclination is that pot should be legalized but controlled the same as tobacco so it can be taxed and dispersed at the same places that sell tobacco and alcohol. This would eliminate the entire criminalization of possession and free up many jails plus law enforcement could concentrate on more serious issues. There would still need to be punishment for driving under the influence and work place penalties as exist now for alcohol. Last, there needs to be more education given to children and adults in the hazardous effects of pot.

  • John

    Based on the argument presented, alcohol should be made illegal too (again).

    What is your position on gun control?

    Thanks for this gem:

    First, tobacco doesn’t kill young people. When it kills, it generally kills much older people.

  • Mike

    I have a dear friend that I grew up with. He played football, threw the shot put and discuss and was a gifted athlete. Following graduation, he received a full scholarship at a small college – a free education. All he had to do was throw a steel ball and a rubber disc, but instead he became addicted to marijuana (yes, I said addicted). He once told me that all he wanted to do was smoke weed for the rest of his life. Maybe my friend could have taken his athleticism to the next level. Maybe he could have gone to the Olympics, but we will never know. I think my friend regrets his decisions though he has never spoken about it. I know he has had difficulty finding and keeping employment. I hate marijuana and I hate what the legalize advocates are doing to the U.S. They have no shame or honor.

    • JohnInMA

      I understand your sadness and regret for your friend. However, doesn’t that also prove that simply making a law – or simply making the possession, sale, etc., illegal – didn’t help your friend? Given how much money we spend on enforcement and incarceration, and given how bad the results are with your friend being a good example, shouldn’t we be looking for another approach? I’m not suggesting that rash legalization like CO did is the final answer. But what we do currently is not working, wouldn’t you agree?

  • PeterFitzwell

    Colorado should advertise that they have a highly skilled workforce of Potheads
    ready to work for any business that chooses to relocate there

  • JohnInMA

    I have a hard time believing that a survey or two within months of a law passing is an accurate representation of a trend that may become long standing. Mostly I base that on the fact that teenagers have never been challenged to get/buy pot. Alcohol has often been tougher to obtain – though far from impossible – short of stealing from parents, etc. The illegality adds to the attraction and the ‘cool’ factor. And if I’m not mistaken, pot is still illegal for teens, no?

    My biggest problem with CO is that the lawmakers classically made an ideological and emotional move without much thought. Imagine that! After all, they are still challenged to define intoxication levels and appropriate measurements, as I understand it. How stupid is that?? And it’s my understanding also that lawmakers have yet to address the civil aspects of their new, rushed through law. Employers will continue to enforce their random testing, but aren’t certain of new regulations for ‘acceptable’ levels of THC, if any. It’s a chaotic situation for the time being, but that also is no surprise. I’d take the federalist approach and say, “let CO prove the merits or the mistakes,” but they have been so chaotic and unprofessional (as lawmakers) out of the gate, it is probably a lost cause at this point. There interest seems to have been exclusively just to legalize it, and not deal with it beyond that.

    Teens will always be influenced by a range of peer engagements. But their behavior cycles for a variety of reasons, perhaps influenced by education and parental influence at times. For example, even as ‘sexuality’ has become more common in media and the culture, there have been cycles of teen sexual behavior from increasing abstinence to increasing activity (safe to unsafe) throughout.

    I think the ‘teen argument’ is by far the weakest and least substantiated of all possible opposition to legalizing pot. Stronger arguments include the almost total lack of knowledge much less definition of levels of intoxication and impairment as they apply to personal responsibility. As mentioned in the article, studies are still incomplete, even though they indicate a direct effect of intoxication and driving behavior causing accidents. How much is enough and how much is too much? What is enough to consider someone liable for ‘public intoxication’, a law currently on the books? How will it be addressed in a court when defendants appeal, which most lawyers will certainly advise them to do?

  • Krymsun

    “.. regular pot smokers increasingly tune out of life, becoming what are known as potheads, or, to put it bluntly, losers.”

    It upsets me to hear such a mischaracterization; anyone who can say that shames and insults himself by revealing his stupidity. There are many ‘regular pot smokers’ who are far from being losers.

    • Mike

      Do you have examples and names of these “‘regular pot smokers’ who are far from being losers” and what do you mean by “far from being losers.” Why not call them successful pillars of the community or are they just functioning stoners?