This letter was published by the NY Times on 7/30/14:
“To the Editor:
Your opinion, in “Repeal Prohibition, Again,” that marijuana should be legalized is based in part on an assumption that during Prohibition “people kept drinking.” Prohibition reduced the public’s alcohol intake considerably. The rate of alcohol-associated illness dropped in similar fashion. Prohibition was perhaps a political failure, but an impressive success from a public health standpoint.
Both alcohol and marijuana can lead to the chronic disease of addiction, directly affect the brain and negatively affect function. As more than 10 percent of our population has addictive disease, your statement that marijuana is “far less dangerous than alcohol” doesn’t reflect decades of research demonstrating risks associated with both of these drugs.
Why would we possibly wish to add to the alcohol- and tobacco-driven personal and public health catastrophe with yet another substance to which some people will become addicted?
Some people use marijuana currently. Legalize it, and more people will use more marijuana, leading to more addiction, lower productivity and higher societal costs.
President, American Society
of Addiction Medicine
New York, July 27, 2014”
Stuart Gitlow, MD, MPH, MBA, is a psychiatrist and Executive Director of the Annenberg Physician Training Program in Addictive Diseases at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is also President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the author of Practical Guides in Psychiatry: Substance Use Disorders (2006, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins).