See more of the story

"Liberate weed market to get it under control" (Opinion Exchange, Nov. 16) asks so many questions it is hard to appreciate that it is a pro-cannabis commentary. No answers are forthcoming.

The second half of the commentary reiterates all the magical mysteries of our current cultural misconceptions of cannabis. Here's the list:

  1. Somewhere else there is a successful legal market. (Define success; that place is a myth.)
  2. The tax on cannabis will bring an easy funding stream. (Will it cover the increase in vehicular accidents and addiction care?)
  3. Minnesota is the worst in racially targeting cannabis users. (Ask whether Minnesota's decadeslong decriminalization of small-scale possession of cannabis has been onerous to anybody?)
  4. Legal weed will open business opportunities to minorities. (Show me someplace in the country where Big Tobacco has not usurped local control.)
  5. Legalization has to include the illegal market to succeed. (Who has done that and what would that look like?)
  6. Minnesota will create a market using the highest ideals. (Without recognizing the harms to adolescents and adults using regularly there is no "ideal.")

Getting back to the social justice rationale. Who has asked the Black community about where they stand in this popular stampede to legalize? I was sitting with a Black man recently who was brought to tears thinking that the opportunity being offered his community was retail cannabis and not any of a number of high-tech, brain-powered careers. He asked the question: How many Black families want to see their loved ones using cannabis?

Finally, missing once again is recognition of the mental health, cognitive and behavioral disturbances. This stuff affects your brain. Read the science. The myth is that only the predisposed will suffer. This is not the case. The endocannabinoid system is intimately involved in the operations of the smallest of microanatomical structures, the synapse. It can dysregulate them. It has effects if used long enough and at potency to decrease intelligence.

Sometimes legislators educate the populace about an issue as a way of taking the best course. Not this time. So we keep running, blindfolded from seeing how our family members and minority communities will be harmed.

George Realmuto, of Apple Valley, is a retired child and adolescent psychiatrist.