Marijuana: The Case Against Legalization

By Donna Wiesenhahn

pot-leaf-strikethruFolks pushing for the legalization of marijuana and medical marijuana have made their issue resonate with the American public.

Proponents have focused on reducing the prison population, aiding the sick and stimulating the economy.

The campaign is working because public opinion polls show an increasing tolerance for marijuana use.

Although proponents make compelling arguments, research continues to show troubling statistics about marijuana use, particularly for young people.

If those of us who oppose legalization rely on that research to present a consistent message, an argument would look something like this:

If our community cares about IQ levels and academic performance, we need to oppose medical marijuana and marijuana legalization. Why?

  • Marijuana use lowers IQ. A recent study found that those who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a permanent 8-point drop in IQ.
  • Marijuana use negatively effects motivation, memory and learning.
  • Youths with an average grade of D or below were more than four times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year as youths with an average grade of A.

If our community cares about jobs, we need to oppose medical marijuana and marijuana legalization. Why?

  • More than 6,000 companies nationwide and scores of industries and professions require a pre-employment drug test.
  • With approximately 24% of high school seniors in Fayette County public schools stating their use of marijuana in the past 30 days, their chances of employment are drastically reduced.

If we care about highway safety, we need to oppose medical marijuana and marijuana legalization. Why?

  • Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers and motor vehicle crash victims.
  • According to Colorado Department of Transportation, the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana in fatal car crashes doubled between 2006 and 2010.
  • 74% of teens in treatment for addiction in Denver report getting their pot from medical marijuana card holders.

We need more research on the chemistry of marijuana – the chemicals that make it a “helpful” drug.

Before we embrace the legalization of marijuana, we need more discussion, more research and must consider the risks to our kids, our community and our economy.

Donna Wiesenhahn is the Regional Prevention Director for for more information about marijuana, visit