Marijuana

by Patrick Appel

Mark Kleiman continues to argue against commercial cannabis. He still wants a "grow your own" policy:

The rate of problem use among cannabis users is lower than the rate of problem drinking among drinkers (lifetime risk of about 10% v. lifetime risk of at least 15%) but that's under conditions of illegality and high price. The risks of chronic heavy cannabis use aren't as dramatic as the risks of chronic heavy drinking - the stuff doesn't kill neurons or rot your liver, and generates less crazy behavior than beer - but that doesn't make those risks negligible. Ask any parent whose fifteen-year-old has decided that cannabis is more fun than geometry. Of the 10% of cannabis smokers who become heavy daily smokers for a while, the median duration of the first spell of heavy use (not counting the risks of relapse) is 44 months. That's not a small chunk to take out a lifetime, especially a young lifetime.

Cannabis isn't harmful enough to be worth banning. But that doesn't mean that it's safe to give America's marketing geniuses a new vice to peddle.  

Kleiman has been beating this drum for a long time. I don't have a problem with "grow your own" in theory but worry that prohibiting commercial cannabis will sustain the black-market. What are the other unintended consequences?

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.