Marijuana Still a Threat Despite Legalization
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Despite increased legalization, marijuana is still considered a significant threat according to federal law enforcement organizations charged with stopping the drug trade . Recent drug threat assessment reports by both the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NWHIDTA) say marijuana is an important menace to society .
Both claim that rising marijuana use is a function of evolving perceptions and attitudes that marijuana is not dangerous. They say that as perception of risks involving marijuana use decreases, usage increases. More and more American youth are, according to the DEA, "showing less disapproval of marijuana use and decreased perception that marijuana is dangerous." The DEA also states that the "growing perception of marijuana as a safe drug may reflect recent public discussions over "medical marijuana" and movements to legalize the drug for adult recreational use in some states."
Both agencies issues "Drug Threat Assessments."
The NWHIDTA issued its Threat Assessment and Strategy for 2014 in May 2013.
Marijuana, the organization wrote, is a drug closely associated with criminal activity and accessible to all. This combination makes it a noteworthy hazard to society.
The report also noted that voters in Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana for Washingtonians over 21 years old in the fall of 2012. It was already approved in the state for medical use.
NWHIDTA said that "the public perception of marijuana as a harmful drug continues to decline, as is evident by the steady number of youth being admitted for treatment. Indoor grows are on the rise and marijuana infused products are becoming commonplace as those eager to make money in the newly established marijuana market look for new ways to attract customers."
The monograph says that marijuana is the most prevalent abused drug in the state. Domestic production from both indoor and outdoor grows throughout the state in addition to a small amount of Canadian marijuana, known as British Columbia (BC) bud , which is smuggled into the United States, supply the market.
Washington state has established rules and infrastructures to implement the sale of marijuana. The state believes that it can produce about 40 metric tons of marijuana each year . It will license about 334 retail outlets, but no entity will have more than three licenses. According to the NWHIDTA, Washington state lawmakers believe this will preclude the formation of "Big Marijuana."
The NWHIDTA is a program of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy. HIDTAs were created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and provide assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.
The NWHIDTA was not the only federal government agency to warn about marijuana. The DEA's National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, published in November 2013, also warned about marijuana. This report stated that "[u]se of the drug will likely continue to increase over the next decade; recent national-level studies indicate that use is most prevalent among young adults, with adolescent acceptance and illicit use increasing." It also pointed out that Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) data indicated an uptick in marijuana-related emergency department visits by 59% between 2006 (290,565) and 2010 (461,028). "Marijuana was second only to cocaine for illicit drug-related emergency department visits in 2010," said the report.