Response to New York Times Article

A New York Times article by Jonah Engel Bromwich last weekend reveled in 21st century American escapism, the notion that we can magically will away the vicissitudes of life by using drugs.

A few days later, the New York Times did it again, suggesting people simply can’t live without a crutch. The election’s over but not the stress. Any edibles left?  Drug enthusiasts in the media hype anxiety, as if all of us must be neurotics.  It’s not only COVID anxiety they’re pushing. The pot industry and its proponents want local politicians to see marijuana as the solution to lost revenue revenue from restaurant closings, no matter what the medical costs. The clever public relations approach covers many bases, creating a mystique, but forgets to mention that the tax revenues from marijuana fall far below expectations.

Kevin Sabet of SAM is not alone in fighting against marijuana legalization.  Other opponents to marijuana legalization have not left the scene, something Style section author Bromwich gets wrong.  Parents Opposed to Pot, as well as Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana and MomsStrong in California, make up a strong bipartisan opposition.  Bromwich interviewed author Emily Dufton, who told another journalist that it’s possible a new parent movement will arise. Dufton was correct — Parent Movement 2.0 began this year in California.  Johnny’s Ambassadors, a new group formed by Laura Stack and her family  in Colorado, sounds the alarm about “dabbing,” and the tragic loss of her son, a victim of marijuana-induced psychosis

While apparently in awe of the ballots passed by numerous states, the author deliberately avoids the fact that vast infusions of money bought those ballot votes.  Billionaires fund New Approach PAC, which, in turn, gives the money for marijuana ballot campaigns.  Just since the election, Alexandra Cohen, wife of a New York hedge fund manager, gave $750,000 to New Approach PAC.  Money and clever messaging buy the votes for this anti-science drug policy. Rather than grassroots efforts, it’s the clearest example in politics today that money can buy an outcome. 

Stakes are high as we lose kids to drug addiction

The new generation of opposition thinks differently from “Just Say No” or the DARE approach of the nineties.  We believe children or teens deserve an explanation why it’s preferable not to use or need drugs to get through life.  We emphasize that there are healthy ways to embrace life, and find joy, without anxiety or the need for drugs.

The stakes are high; currently we lose too many young people to deaths or permanent mental health problems, from drug use.  Some overcome it, but many others do not.  No one can  predict who will survive after they start using drugs, and who will not.

Smart Colorado, which throws daggers when the Colorado pot industry markets to children, plans to go national with its new initiative, One Chance to Grow Up.  Dr. Robert DuPont wishes to build on youth sobriety and make that choice part of a new movement.  One Choice emphasizes that 31 percent of youth below age 21 do not drink, smoke or use drugs. 

Drug Policy Alliance, the major organization behind changing drug policy, pushes the mentality that clings to drug use. 

Who benefits from more drug use?

We strongly believe – with good evidence – that the harms of drug use alone outweigh the harm of anything the current legal system does to punish someone who is only using drugs and committing no other crimes.  Mr Bromwich ignores the huge percentage of people committing crimes related to theft, murder, domestic violence and rape, while on drugs. Like it or not, there’s a high correlation between drug use and criminal behavior.  Empirical evidence would show a very low rate of crimes committed by those who don’t use drugs or alcohol. 

Mr. Bromwich correctly states that the effort to reframe marijuana as something medical – even without evidence – brought public acceptance.  This clever marketing strategy helped teens to see marijuana as less harmful than it really is.  A large subset of the population can become paranoid from marijuana use and the paranoia can easily convert into psychosis.  This view is backed up strongly by science, and science was ignored in discussions of marijuana legalization in the states.

Our emphasis is on preventing start of drug use. People are forgetting that selling drugs is not a victimless crime.  Indeed some people die from using a drug for the very first time, and this fact goes against the projection of drug use as harmless.  The Drug Policy Alliance pushes to protect from prosecution those who give or sell drugs to another, even when a person dies.  (Such cases are never so clear cut; they need to be investigated.)

For the New York Times to encourage drug use when we’re in the midst of an overdose epidemic — 70,000 killed directly from drugs in each of the last three years — is reckless.  We call on the New York Times to be more honest, and to explain the downsides of marijuana legalization.

Democratic governors warned not to do it

Democratic governors of Colorado and California, John Hickenlooper and Jerry Brown, warned other states that legalization is fraught with problems:

  • The illegal marijuana market grows stronger under legalization.  Governor Gavin Newsom called on the National Guard and actually asked President Trump to curb the illegal growers in California.  Many international groups buy up real estate in the suburbs and convert the basements into grow houses.

  • There’s no good way to stop stoned driving. We still lack a test that works well for judging marijuana impairment in drivers.  Traffic deaths, vaping illnesses and new cases of psychosis increase the load on our health system. In Washington, the number of traffic deaths involving driving under the influence of THC doubled the first year of legal marijuana.

As a newspaper, the Los Angeles Times gives a more honest view, exposing the dark side of both legal and illegal marijuana grows.  The New York Times reveals its biases, suggesting that Finally New Jersey may be cooler than New York.