Letter: Doctors against marijuana ignore status quo failures

April 11, 2019

The March 26, 2019 letter from four doctors, presidents of Medical Societies of Delaware, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey stated their opposition to marijuana legalization in Delaware but ignored the failures of the status quo.

The doctors’ concerns focused mainly on these points: 1) “Most importantly, not enough research has been done to prove marijuana is safe.” 2) The “legalization of recreational marijuana is ignoring how profit-driven corporations hooked generations of Americans on cigarettes and opioids, killing millions and straining public resources.”

This last objection about opioids is almost laughable in not including doctors’ roles in this tragedy.

They forget Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research, who pointed out in 2017 the “massive over-prescribing” of opioids ... like Dr. Frederick Cohn who prescribed 2.7 million pills in one year in a small Kentucky town of 3,400, according to author Sam Quinones in his book “Dreamland.”

Their point about proving marijuana is safe led me to check statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. From 2016 data, annual deaths from alcohol were 35,000; drug overdoses- 63,600; opioids- 42,000; heroin- 15,400; tobacco- 480,000; and marijuana- 0…zero!

This doesn’t mean that pot is a health elixir, but it seems that it’s not the worst vice on the block.

What surprises me with the doctors’ claims is that they are mute about reducing the violence, killing and elimination of profits in black market pot that legalization can provide.

Consider what the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition had to say several years ago:

“We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes these drugs so valuable while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits … criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are beyond our control.”

The doctors’ prescription for continuing failed status quo policies that do not eliminate illegal drug profits is folly.

Geary Foertsch
Rehoboth Beach


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