How much will legal pot smokers consume?

April 9, 2019

As Illinois seems to creep toward full legalization of marijuana, it might be useful to consider some of the experiences of states where it already has been legalized.

Washington and Colorado legalized recreational use in 2012. Oregon followed suit in 2014. A marketing firm, DHM Research, surveyed users in those three states. The results were reported in a national story, which ran earlier in The Daily Journal.

Here’s what to expect:

• If marijuana is legalized, use will increase. Those who use will up their consumption, in some cases moving from weekend recreation to every day. Some 44 percent of the legal consumers will use marijuana every day.

• It is a male thing. Sixty percent of the users are men. If you have concerns about the growing inequity of men moving on to and graduating from college, this might give you pause.

• Finally, and most disturbing, about one in every four users will go to work high or get high at work. We only can hope these people are not driving trucks, flying airplanes or designing bridges.

There is a solid social trend toward legalization. Historically, society rotates those social ills it forgives and those it punishes severely. States, too, greedily eye the taxes they might collect to feed their bureaucracies.

As we legalize, we also must regulate with common sense. There might be, perhaps, no penalty at all for smoking marijuana in your home. Yet if you choose to, say, jeopardize someone else’s life by being irresponsible, jail time would be more than appropriate.