Evidence in Europe is mounting that decriminalizing marijuana has detrimental effects on the health of individuals, the health of society and the health of the healthcare system. And while many studies have concentrated on the benefits of decriminalization in terms of unburdening the court system, few studies have looked at the cost to the healthcare system.
That’s changed with the completion of a study that looked at drug use and hospital admissions in an area of London where marijuana use was decriminalized.
“Now a paper presented to the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference in London,” writes the UK’s Telegraph, “argues that the scheme could have had a ‘significant longer term impact’ on public health in the area. The authors insist the findings offer a ‘note of caution’ to anyone considering a more liberal approach to policing drugs even if it appears to offer benefits in other areas.”
The study found that for younger men, admissions for harder drugs - drugs known as Class A drugs, such as cocaine, opiates and LSD- doubled even as police were letting offenders go for the lesser drug offense of possession of marijuana.
“Our results provide a note of caution,” note the authors, “to moves to adopt more liberal approaches to the regulation of illicit drug markets, as typically embodied in policies such as the depenalization of cannabis. While such policies may well have numerous benefits such as preventing many young people from being criminalised, allowing the police to reallocate their effort towards other crime types and indeed reduce total crime overall there remain potentially large offsetting costs related to public health that also need to be factored into any cost benefit analysis of such approaches.”
In 2002, a study from the Netherland’s University of Maastricht already tended to confirm that marijuana use was likely to triple the onset of “a psychotic disorder like hallucinations, paranoia, manic depression and even schizophrenia - and that the risk increases with the amount smoked,” reported the Daily Mail.
Some UK doctors, even back then, were overwhelmed by the link between mental illness and pot use.
“Professor Robin Murray, from the Institute of Psychiatry in London,” reports the Mail “said services in some parts of the country are struggling to cope with the number of marijuana-related illnesses. 'I work in South London and 90 per cent of patients showing a first episode of psychosis also smoke cannabis. In fact, if they're not taking cannabis, we think it's strange,' he said.”
And the mental illnesses that feature psychosis, such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, paranoia are very costly to treat.
A study published in 2005 Cost of psychotic disorders in Europe asserted that the cost of treating just schizophrenia in the United States alone is $58 billion as expressed in 2013 dollars, half of which are direct medical costs.
Now imagine those costs tripling- just for schizophrenia, which is actually a fairly rarely occurring disease – to over $170 billion as unrestricted marijuana use sees rising rates of first-time psychotic episodes. $170 billion is about ten percent of the overall Obamacare budget on NEW healthcare spending over TEN YEARS according to recent estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.
The Cato Institute estimates that drug enforcement policy costs the United States about $41 billion annually.
But I was reminded this weekend as I saw two men share a joint on a street in Denver that costs are a tricky thing. What’s the cost to the shop owner who has to endure two stoners hanging out and toking on the curb in front of his store?
Because that shop owner and you and me, we’re the ones who will pay.
We always pay for someone else’s behavior under Obama and the liberals who are now in charge.
We live in a world where opening a cigar bar- owning a gun, practicing a religion, etc- is more difficult than opening up a marijuana dispensary.
And what's wrong with that world is that of the two weeds, tobacco and dope, only one is still illegal.