SADOW: Marijuana Legalization Isn’t Going To Improve Louisiana Quality Of Life

The dawn of all-but-in-name marijuana legalization in Louisiana is the last thing needed in a state whose social norms hold back achievement and invite addictive behavior to decrease its citizens’ quality of life.

At the start of the year, laws where almost anything goes in making ganja available legally kicked in. Any physician in the state now can “recommend” (not “prescribe,” to prevent running afoul of federal law) smokable street-potent leaf theoretically in dealer-like quantities to anyone for any presumed ailment, despite the fact that medical research reveals only a small set of maladies have positive outcomes associated with cannabis use.

Most Louisiana doctors won’t go along, much less authorize a large amount. But some will, and shamelessly so. If a small coterie essentially created pill mills at far higher legal risk (and notoriously enough so that a whole television series came from these), don’t think a larger contingent won’t grasp at this opportunity, with the easy money available from consultation fees, and all legal.

And don’t think the demand won’t be there. Some subset of the population which currently rarely or never has smoked herb, deterred by the hoops involved to go through to get it if not wanting no part of anything remotely illegal, now will come out of the woodwork to indulge. Already, anecdotal news reports show they seem willing to pay the premium price for this convenience, whether it be from serving as the patient/dealer forking over for wholesale or a buyer at retail from someone with a “recommendation.”

So, you have a trick knee that acts up in bad weather? Post-nasal drip? Social anxiety? Your battle axe of a mother-in-law giving you a pain where you sit? All treatable legally with dope.

The danger from all of this doesn’t really come from addiction to grass or its service as a gateway to more illegal drugs (a minority of users become addicted or regress to harder substances), but in the negative physiological and psychological harms in inflicts at the individual level and how distractive it becomes at the societal level. Going around in a haze on even a semi-regular basis might occasionally spawn a bohemian artistic classic, but overwhelmingly will sap productive use of one’s time and squander one’s talents.

That’s the last thing needed in a state whose people disproportionately have trouble with addictions that induce this underwhelming behavior. Among these, Louisiana ranks second in proportion of cigarette smokers, 15th in booze binging (all but Hawai’i ahead of it are much farther north), fifth on a gambling addiction scale (about one in 35 Louisianans are gambling addicts), but, until recently thankfully, just 31st in overall illegal substances use for those age 12 on up. That figure is depressed by the state placing only 40th in marijuana use.

Look for that to change now for the worse, with its negative impact fueled by the laissez le bon temps rouler attitude ingrained into the state’s culture. Nor will more lounging about getting high do much to improve the large threat to people’s health, lives, and fiscal resources otherwise of better use lost to public health funding from the problems brought about by obesity, where the state ranks fourth-worst in incidence.

While policy choices rightly deserve scrutiny as causing Louisiana’s chronic retarded economic development, cultural factors such as this also contribute to that malaise, and the policy change regarding spliff consumption plays right into the worst of that. Once this Pandora’s box fully springs open, it never closes, and the lamentable consequences further will hold back the state from becoming a more desirable place to live and prosper.

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