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Opinion >  Letters

Marijuana foes peddle fear

This responds to the Oct. 2 editorial “Regulation, taxation of marijuana worth a try.”

Opponents of marijuana policy reform will argue that it is an “addictive” or “gateway drug.” A defining feature of addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms, but there is no medical consensus recognizing a cannabis withdrawal syndrome, without which asserting addictiveness is disingenuous.

Those who claim marijuana is a gateway drug rely on surveys of users of stronger substances that fail to sample the full population, leading to assertions based on sampling error and causal fallacy. When one examines population-based data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, you find that in 2010, 11.3 percent of the population ages 12 and older reported using cannabis and 0.2 percent of the population ages 12 and older reported using heroin within the past year, meaning that heroin use is at 2 percent the rate of cannabis use. That spread refutes rather than supports the gateway assertion.

Reform opponents assert their authority, not reason. Voters should question such authority, ask what the person personally gains from the marijuana policy status quo, and vote based on evidence rather than tactics rooted in authority and fear.

Edward Byrnes


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