Last week, we wrote about both the White House administration and the director of National Drug Control Policy (NDCP), Michael Botticelli, being against cannabis legalization efforts. The current “drug czar” is concerned about youth marijuana use being on the rise, and he believes as more states legalize use – we will see an increase in teenage and young adult use. It is worth noting, Botticelli is the first director of the NDCP to be in addiction recovery, and while he is not in favor of legalization – he is firm believer of treatment over incarceration.
Interestingly, the formation of the first national organization of doctors in favor of legalization was announced this week, The Washington Post reports. The group is urging both the federal government and states to legalize and regulate adult recreational cannabis use in the interest of public health. The Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) is made up of:
- A Former Surgeon General
- Over 50 Physicians
- Faculty Members from Some of the Nation’s Top Medical Schools
In order to ensure public safety, the DFCR believes marijuana should be legal and regulated, according to the article. The group contends that prohibition and criminalization of the drug has led to hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests every year. The group of doctors point out that there is racial and economic disparities in how drug laws are enforced.
“You don’t have to be pro-marijuana to be opposed to its prohibition,” said David L. Nathan, board president and founder of the DFCR. “If you’re going to make something against the law, the health consequences of that use have to be so bad to make it worth creating criminal consequences. That was never true of marijuana. It was banned in 1937 over the objections of the American Medical Association (AMA).”
While the societal costs of prohibition can be easily measured, it is important that efforts to curb teenage use continue. The drug can be addictive, may require treatment to overcome and can have a negative impact on developing brains.