Pot, cannabis, marijuana, grass, Mary Jane, weed, bammy: Whatever name you give it, it’s been a headliner for several years, especially since November 2012 when Colorado legalized it for adults 21 and older—a marijuana first, but not the only one. That’s because California legalized medical marijuana way back in 1996.

In all, 39 states and D.C. now do, too.

Although 12 states have zero-tolerance laws for drugs, including THC–the ingredient that gives pot users a high–19 states and D.C. have legalized its recreational or adult-use; Rhode Island joined in just this year.

All kinds of folks applaud these moves, even Obama when president. As he put it then, “ As has been well-documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, but not very different from the cigarettes I smoked. I don’t think it’s any more dangerous than alcohol.”

But wait a minute. As a Norristown said at the time, “Like it’s not hard enough. When I caught my son carrying some of the stuff on him, he actually said to me, ‘What’s the big deal, Dad? The president says it’s okay.”

But is it?

Some police departments don’t think so, believing as they do that marijuana leads to more serious crimes and that by excusing it as a low-level offense, criminals get even bolder. They’re not alone in saying that.

Meanwhile, though, President Biden recently stepped in saying he’s pardoning thousands—by some count 6,500— “with federal offenses for simple marijuana possession.” He’s also pushing to have it reclassified. As it stands, marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance like heroin.

About that, according to an October 12 USAToday/Ipsos poll:

  • 72% support not classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug meant for more serious drugs; 26% are opposed.
  • 67% vs. 32% believe such a move would help correct past racial injustices in the judicial system.
  • Others say it would lead to more crime, drug trafficking, and underage use.

Are those “others” right?

  • A December 2021 Gallup poll found that 32% said their families had experienced a drug problem.
  • Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “found that, after marijuana legalization, the rate of car crashes with injuries increased by nearly 6%, while fatal crashed rose by 4%.”
  • Years ago, the American Lung Association reminded us that, “Marijuana contains a greater amount of carcinogens than tobacco smoke.” Plus, it’s inhaled more deeply and held in the lungs longer.
  • Since 2012, September is called National Recovery Month.

Also of concern is what’s not making marijuana headlines:

Writes professor and author Peg O’Connor, “I have deep reservations about the push to decriminalize cannabis without restrictions on the potency of the products.”

Continuing, she adds that marijuana’s reputation as being “harmless needs to confront the harmful realities of its increased potency. Today’s marijuana products are far more potent that what baby boomers and Gen S might have used.”

As she notes:

  • “From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, THC in the flowers and buds was less than 2%
  • In the 1990’s, that increased to 4%.
  • By 2017, the average range was 17% to 28% for the most popular strains at Colorado dispensaries.

Lots to consider, though many will mock calls for caution, plus marijuana’s Pandora’s Box has been wide open for years and there’s no closing it now.

Are they right?

~ With my thanks, Carol