Does the Buckeye State need to make ANOTHER addictive and dangerous drug even more available than it already is?
Let’s take a closer look at two important considerations – the current drug threats in Ohio and what happened in other states following marijuana legalization.
Overdose Deaths in Ohio
In 2021, 5,397 people in Ohio died from drug overdoses, setting a tragic all-time high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that is a 63% spike since 2015.
Ohio has the 7th-highest overdose mortality rate in the country and the 5th-most drug deaths. 12 Ohio counties suffered a record number of fatal overdoses in 2022 – Washington, Vinton, Stark, Ross, Pike, Pickaway, Paulding, Meigs, Jefferson, Highland, Allen, and Adams.
Contrary to a popular narrative pushed by pro-legalization supporters, marijuana is not a safe pain-relieving substitute for opioids. A review of 27 studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that it is ineffective at controlling chronic pain.
A recent study published in 2022 in the Journal of the National Medical Association found that between 2010 and 2020, the overdose death rate in states with legal marijuana increased much faster than in states where the drug is still prohibited – 227% vs 160%.
So much for the claim that legalizing cannabis leads to fewer overdose deaths. The numbers don’t lie. Ohio already has a public health crisis caused by addiction and fatal overdoses. It doesn’t need to add another dangerous and addictive substance that will only make the problem worse.
Teenage Drug Use in Ohio
“Our study describes an upward trend in marijuana abuse exposures among youth…These findings highlight an ongoing concern about the impact of rapidly-evolving cannabis legislation on this vulnerable population.”
~ Dr. Adrienne Hughs, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University
Ohio already has major issues with underage substance use. Among Ohio adolescents and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17, 8% say they have used drugs within the past month – roughly 71,000 children. Of those, over 80% report using marijuana.
The evidence is overwhelming that cannabis legalization leads to increased use among young people. It’s happened and again:
- Colorado and Oregon – In these two states where recreational marijuana is legal, 17% of teens admit to smoking pot. This is the highest rate in the country.
- Alaska – A 2021 study found that both current and lifetime use of marijuana by adolescents “significantly” increased after legalization.
- California – A study published in the February 2021 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs concluded that “increases observed in California may portend continued increases in adolescent marijuana use in future years.”
- Seattle – A 2020 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found “nonmedical marijuana legalization predicted a higher likelihood of self-reported past-year marijuana and alcohol use among youth.”
The implications are blatantly obvious – if Ohio legalizes recreational marijuana, the mental and physical health of tens of thousands of children will be put at risk.
Drugged Driving in Ohio
“That may be marijuana and another drug, or it could be alcohol and an illicit drug such as marijuana or narcotics or something like that. That’s impairing their ability to drive that vehicle. So that’s a trend we’re starting to see in Ohio, and that’s what’s concerning or alarming to law enforcement, is that while we’re seeing the OVIs increase, we’re seeing drug impairment increased as well,” Lt. Nate Dennis with Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
In state after state, drugged driving while impaired stoned skyrocketed after legalization:
- Arizona (2009-2019) – Drugged driving arrests shot up by 519%
- California (2017-2018) – Marijuana-involved crashes with injuries increased by 142%
- Colorado (2020-2021) – Marijuana drugged driving arrests jumped 48%
- Illinois (2019-2021) – Traffic fatalities rose 33%
- Massachusetts – Marijuana is the most commonly found drug present in the systems of drivers involved in deadly traffic accidents.
- Michigan (2018 -2021) – Marijuana-involved injury crashes spiked 430%
- Virginia – In the past year, 14% of drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel while high on marijuana.
- Washington – Within the first 5 years after legalization, the number of drivers testing positive for THC after a fatal accident more than doubled.
Between 2000 and 2018, expanded cannabis legalization resulted in a corresponding surge in marijuana-related driving deaths nationally, which went from 9% to 21.5%.
Impaired driving is an entirely preventable public safety concern. Easier availability means more impaired drivers and more fatal crashes. Keeping as many drugs as possible, including marijuana, from expanding in Ohio means safer roads and saved lives.
Violent Crime in Ohio
“A review of the crime statistics casts doubt on proponents’ claim that legalization reduces violent crime; to the contrary, homicides have generally increased in pro-marijuana jurisdictions…The oft-cited justification for legal marijuana, reducing drug-related violent crime, has not materialized.”
~ Jason C. Johnson, The Hill
Violent crime in Ohio is already a growing problem, and of special concern is the homicide rate, which is higher than the national average.
Despite the pro-marijuana claim that legalization reduces violent crime, the data says otherwise. For example, a 2016 study concluded that cannabis users are seven times more likely to commit a violent crime.
In fact, Dr. R. Douglas Fields, Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today, says, “Continued use of cannabis over the lifetime of the study was the strongest predictor of violent convictions…”
Furthermore, the association between marijuana use and violence is dose-specific. The more a person uses marijuana, the more likely they are to commit a violent crime involving a dangerous weapon.
Look at what happened in other states after cannabis was legalized:
- Colorado ( legalized in 2012) – Murder rates are at an all-time high.
- Alaska (2014) – In 2019, homicides hit an almost 40-year high.
- Washington (2014) – By the year 2021, homicides in the state of Washington spiked 54%, setting a terrible new record.
- Washington, DC (2014) – The number of murders in DC is at a nearly 20-year high.
- California (2016): Several cities in California are seeing double-digit murder rate increases. As a prime example, homicides in Los Angeles County increased by an alarming 94% between 2019 and 2021.
In state after state, a spike in violent crime almost always follows legalization. Ohio does not need yet another contributing factor to worsen an already bad problem with violence on our streets.
The Bottom Line About Legalizing Marijuana in Ohio
Every Big Cannabis-funded claim of the supposed “benefits” of expanded legalization is dubious, exaggerated, misleading, or just plain untrue. Any windfall from sales tax is erased by the far more expensive economic burden to society. Despite claims to the contrary, legalization does not reduce violent crime – it increases it. It does not help the ongoing opioid crisis in Ohio – it makes it worse.
If you want to help keep this dangerous and addictive drug out of Ohio, cast your vote now on Issue 2 and join Protect Ohio Families.
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Every Brain Matters is a nonprofit educational resource with a primary mission of spreading awareness about the very real risks associated with marijuana, expanded legalization, and the promotion and acceptance of drug culture.
EBM counters the false narrative pushed by the Big Cannabis industry with facts, statistics, peer-reviewed scientific data, and the real-life stories of individuals and families whose lives have been impacted by this dangerous drug.