Virginia is the 16th state to go to pot. Thanks to the Democratic-controlled doobie brothers in the legislature, stoners who prefer whacky tabacky to be grown on their own at home. With all due respect, Virginia politicians must have been high on something to pass the legalization of weed in the Old Dominion State. Then again, maybe they watched too many Cheech and Chong reruns during the COVID lockdown.
To be blunt, why would Gov. Northam, who is a trained pediatric neurologist, champion and sign such a dopey, roach-infested bill? You would think someone with his medical background would be slow to embrace Mary Jane, especially since The National Institutes of Health has reported that “the prevalence of mental illness among [emergency department] visits with marijuana-related codes was five-fold higher than the prevalence of mental illness without marijuana-related codes.”
Put another way, your chances of suffering from a mental health issue is five times greater if you smoke marijuana—whether you’re an adult or a minor.
Talk about a bummer.
Which begs a few questions: Did Gov. Northam and his cheeba-loving Democratic lawmakers consult with any medical experts, law enforcement agencies, school administrators, or community leaders from Colorado which legalized loco weed almost a decade ago? Did they ask, How’s that going? Are there any surprises or unexpected consequences from the legalization of pot? Has there been a rise in gang-related activity around the sales and distribution of weed.
I put those questions to Virginia State Senator Steve Newman who said, “You would have thought that would have been Exhibit A ... but we never ended up getting those types of expert witnesses. The majority wanted to push it through ... never did I see a truth seeker as it relates to what’s going on in Colorado and other states.” He added, “The legislators started measuring profit versus safety, and they went toward profit.” Allow me, then, to provide some answers.
The New York Times reported: “Since recreational sales began in 2014, more people [in Colorado] are visiting emergency rooms for marijuana-related problems, and hospitals report higher rates of mental-health cases tied to marijuana.”
The Boston Globe reports that, according to property manager Jason White, “We’ve got more crime. We’ve got more people on the street. Our hospitals are filled with people.” The outlet added that the legalization has proved to be a net economic negative, with revenues “going to the overwhelmed homeless shelters, hospitals, and the police.”
What’s more, reefer madness impacts teens—even though teen possession is illegal. The Times reported, “School disciplinary numbers show that marijuana is a leading reason students are punished or handed over to the police.” And, they observe, “Some families rattled by their children’s marijuana problems have moved, seeking refuge in less permissive states.”
Is that what Gov. Northam wants for Virginians?
But wait, there’s more.
In five short years following Colorado’s legalization of weed, potheads stumbled into emergency rooms with “severe vomiting” among with other symptoms. Likewise, children who gobbled up hemp edibles end up in the ER “disoriented, dehydrated or hallucinating after consuming too much marijuana,” reports the Times.
Those driven to legalize hooch might have pumped the brakes had they not sped by the data which the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Strategic Intelligence Unit reported in 2018:
- Since recreational marijuana was legalized, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 151 percent while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 35 percent
- Colorado past month marijuana use for ages 12 and older is ranked 3rd in the nation and is 85 percent higher than the national average
- Violent crime increased 18.6 percent and property crime increased 8.3 percent in Colorado since 2013
According to Dr. Andrew Monte, who serves as medical toxicology physician at the University of Colorado Hospital, “There’s a disconnect between what was proposed as a completely safe drug. Nothing is completely safe.” No kidding.
Why, then, were Virginia legislators so quick to fire up weed sales? Why did they ignore a 20-year academic study by Dr. Wayne Hall, professor of addiction policy, King’s College London, and drug advisor for the World Health Organization, who documented these troubling facts?
- One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it
- Cannabis doubles the risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
- Cannabis users do worse at school. Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development
- One in ten adults who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it and those who use it are more likely to go on to use harder drugs
- Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, a risk which increases substantially if the driver has also had a drink
What about the criminal element? Several years ago, while living in Colorado Springs, I spoke with a State Trooper about the unintended consequences of the legalization of growing marijuana in homes. He told me that Colorado’s black market used to import pot. Now, under the grow-at-home policies, Colorado exports weed because MS-13 and other gang elements have moved in, purchased, and then converted residential properties into grow houses.
As the Times reported, “police and federal drug-enforcement agents raided 240 homes around Denver and Northern Colorado that were illegally growing marijuana.” Colorado’s United States attorney, Jason Dunn, admitted Colorado has become “the epicenter of black-market marijuana in the United States.”
Again, is this breakdown of society what Gov. Northam wants for Virginians?
How do you explain such inept leadership?
Why were Virginians so silent during this debate?
Aren’t there any Democratic or Independent leaders who care about the long-term impact on society when drugs go mainstream?
There’s also a moral argument that people of faith would do well to consider. Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). You might want to read that again.
I have no idea about the personal faith of Gov. Northam. I pray that he has a change of heart and doesn’t sign the bill. But, if he does, he will ultimately answer to a Higher Authority.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: Roberto Valdivia/Unsplash
Bob DeMoss is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 40 books including collaborations with Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty, Jim Daly/Focus on the Family, Andy Stanley, and Tim LaHaye/Left Behind. His latest short story is "Hazel: The Outlaw Mummy". Visit BobDeMoss.com.