Marijuana Myths

In 2011, Gallup reported that 62% of 18-29 year olds and 50% of the general public supports the legalization of marijuana; 69% of liberals and even 34% of conservatives also support such measures. Obviously the pro-pot movement has taken root in the American populace and especially in the minds of Millennials (even managing to infiltrate the minds of the most conservative among us).

Myth #1: Legalization Would bring in Enormous Tax Revenues

The Heritage Foundation’s Charles Stimson published an extensive legal memorandum urging for the failure of the RCTC Act of 2010, which would have legalized pot in California.  This memorandum debunks the myth that legalization would eliminate the black market for marijuana and would bring in enormous revenue, therefore stimulating the economy.

Dr. Rosalie Pacula, a drug policy expert at the RAND Corporation for over 15 years, testified that under the California law: “There would be tremendous profit motive for the existing black market providers to stay in the market.  The only way California could effectively eliminate the black market for marijuana is to take away the substantial profits in the market and allow the price of marijuana to fall to an amount close to the cost of production.  Doing so, however, will mean substantially smaller tax revenue”(Stimson 9).

In other words, simple economics expose the assumption that drug dealers would voluntarily enter the legal market, when the cost of production is virtually zero.  In fact, it was calculated that “an individual will be able to produce 24,000 to 240,000 joints legally each year” (Stimson 9).  This is more than any individual could possibly consume, and it is encouraging individuals to sell pot on the side, subverting taxation.  Why would anyone buy marijuana legally when they would have to pay a higher price for it?  It would be a much higher price considering California proposed a $50/ounce tax on top of the list price. Why would drug dealers leave the black market when they don’t have to?

Fiscal conservatives should not be lured into such intellectual inconsistency.  We are not going to solve the budget crises and pay off our $15 trillion debt with whatever change is left from a feeble government attempt to tax the un-taxable.

Myth #2: Marijuana is a Victimless Drug

Marijuana has a history of being linked to crime in the United States and throughout the world. “60% of arrestees test positive for marijuana use in the United States, England, and Australia” (Stimson 6).  And while many pro-legalization advocates argue that most of these marijuana users are people arrested for non-violent crimes, they fail to note that marijuana usage is strongly correlated with cocaine and other more serious drugs, as well as murder, assault, money laundering, and smuggling (Stimson 5-6).  Surely, legalization advocates do not believe that all marijuana users are little angels?

In fact, in Amsterdam, one of Europe’s most violent cities, pot is legal and a prevalent aspect of society (Stimson 6).  Heritage reports that “Officials are in the process of closing marijuana dispensaries, or ‘coffee shops,’ because of the crime associated with their operation” (Stimson 6).

California’s partial legalization via usage of “medical marijuana” is beginning to show the same effects. LAPD reports that areas surrounding cannabis clubs have seen a 200% increase in robberies and a 130.8% increase in aggravated assault (Stimson 6).  A drug that increases crime doesn’t exactly qualify as “victimless.”

In addition to this, local communities where neighborhoods and residential housing are dominant will be adversely affected.  Residents who live in areas with extensive marijuana usage have repeatedly complained about the incredible smell put off by the plants.  Even worse than the smell though, is the growing crime rate in residential areas which is induced by theft of marijuana from yards where it is grown (Stimson 6).

It may be ideologically convenient for some to oversimplify the issue as a violation against individual liberty, but when all the facts are presented, it is obvious that the only liberty being violated is the blatant disregard for property rights, law, and order.

Myth #3: Marijuana = Alcohol

Legalization advocates link marijuana and alcohol as equally mild intoxicants, suggesting that they deserve equal treatment under the law.  However, as the above research suggests, marijuana is more dangerous to the health and safety of society.

For better or for worse, alcohol as been part of human history for millennia.  Typically, individuals responsibly self-monitor their consumption thereof. Alcohol has also been regulated by cultural norms rather than by government.  Society, culture, and religion have proven to be the best regulators of alcoholic consumption.  The same cannot be said of marijuana – as seen in the information presented earlier.

In addition to its lack of historical precedent in America’s historical experience, marijuana also has much more severe health effects than alcohol.  1) marijuana is far more likely than alcohol to be cause addiction, 2) it is usually consumed to the point of intoxication, 3) it has no known intrinsically healthful properties (it can only relieve pain –and artificially at that), 4) it has toxins that can result in birth defects, pain, respiratory damage, brain damage, and stroke, 5) it increases heart rate by 20% to 100% elevating the risk of heart attack (Stimson 4).

In relation to history, economics, and health, marijuana is nothing like alcohol.

Conclusion: Conservatives should not be afraid to combat the growing sentiment that supports the legalization of marijuana.  Economics, historical precedent, and conservative principles are all on our side. It is up to unashamed, unapologetic young conservatives to articulate that message and continue to stand for ordered liberty.

Alan Groves :: Hillsdale College :: Brentwood, Tennessee :: @AlanGroves2



  1. The other myth is that there is actually such a thing as “medical marijuana.” Well, there is, but you don’t smoke it, you can’t grow it, and you can’t buy it at your local pot grower’s club. It’s called marinol, an actual pill that a Dr. can prescribe that has the main ingredients and ostensibly the same beneficial effects as smoking pot. It’s been around for a long time. Why aren’t we talking about this alternative as a real solution to stopping illegal drug sales in this country? That’s because the illegal drug trade is a huge multi-million dollar industry. They don’t want pot legalized because it will help people or because it will help state revenues. They’re in it for the profit and for a cheaper, legal high. That is unacceptable, which is why they even stopped a legalization bill from passing in California. Did you know that George Soros put a million dollars into getting that initiative passed? He may be rich, but he’s not always so smart – or right.

  2. I don’t disagree with most of what you wrote, except your conclusion.
    I was addicted to pot for years. I smoked nearly every day and I absolutely attribute it to my slow growth and lack of accomplishment. It made me lethargic and lazy. It made me less effective in everything I did. I did quit and I am much happier living drug-free.
    All of that said, It simply isn’t working. I was addicted during the entire time we had a ‘war on drugs’ and it had little to no effect on how easy it was to get pot. NONE AT ALL. I do not see how someone can see the Dept of Education as a total waste of money and yet think somehow that the drug war is a GOOD use of money. It has been a TOTAL ABJECT FAILURE, through and through. We have spent 100’s of billions for NOTHING and I just think we could use money better by using it for SOMETHING. Or better yet, let’s not use the money and let’s let citizens keep the money for whatever they want it for.

  3. Alan, you are not looking back at our decision to control the use of alcohol…. We had the same results that we have today with other drugs. Drug use hasn’t always been against our laws… We don’t know if there was any more abuse before or after making drugs illegal.

    Don’t over reach.. We want our younger conservative to write. We want their voices heard.

    War on drugs is simply another failed government program. Our laws aren’t protecting anyone…Tearoy (above) blames smoking to his lack of personal responsibility. Well, that is what addicted people tend to do. ALL recovery programs focus on the individual taking responsibility… (I worked in the this field for forty years.) Laws do not control behavior. Individuals control their behavior…

    Don’t look to government to solve any social problems. Its a costly dead end road.

    Individuals must pay for their mistakes….Not others…


  4. The problem with the way of thinking that is expressed in this article, particularly the latter part, is that it unfairly stigmatizes a behavior just because, according to you, it is associated with some obviously bad behaviors. The best example that I can give you is a friend and former colleague. He’s a daily pot smoker. That, however, is where the comparisons stop to what you are describing. He’s usually in bed and asleep every night before I am, and he’s awake and moving and producing far earlier than I am. He is a very hard worker, he’s dedicated to the students whom he teaches (with whom he does NOT share info about his pot use, of course), stays at work late working on stuff for work and is often busy working on weekends for his job. He’s a completely harmless person, and to say that he’s a criminal just because of what OTHER people do associated with the substance is just wrong.

  5. I am a conservative. I smoke pot on a regular basis. I attend a well respected university where I study accounting and Chinese. I have a very respectable GPA and have made Dean’s List for the past three semesters in a row. I hold positions of leadership within my school and other organizations. I volunteer on a regular basis, currently filing persons’ tax returns who cannot afford to do so. I smoke pot to relax after a long night of studying. In my history I have seen more friends go to the hospital from alcohol, and more friends who have become dependent on alcohol while in college. Your article seems to have little to no support for many of the arguments that you make. The only point which I may agree with is that marijuana is nothing like alcohol, in that alcohol is far more dangerous than smoking a little pot.

  6. Maybe if you looked into more than one resource (Stimson 4-6) you’d be aware of the ridiculousness of what you’ve written.

    I think “marijuana providing enormous tax revenue” is a mute point. Even if the illegal trade were to continue after legalization, the state would still be receiving *more* in taxed marijuana than it previously had. And- supposing it made no money at all off taxation, what would be the difference?

    Not to mention that plenty of OTHER economists have made predictions counter to your own. Here’s my one source:

    You’re right, marijuana is not a victimless drug! Marijuana users are often the victims to an unjust system. YOU and I pay for an absurdly expensive and ineffective program called “The War on Drugs,” which has risen the incarceration rate to the point where 1 million people are arrested each year for drug crimes. This does not necessarily mean violent drug crimes. And people are arrested disproportionately- for example, African Americans make up 13% of drug users, but 74% of people sent to prison. Seventy-four percent! This strips them of their voting rights and perpetuates a cycle of poverty. Check it out:


    You cite violent acts that occur when the perpetuator is high- so the suggestion is that people commit crimes because of marijuana. If you’ve never consumed marijuana, I can see how this could be easy to believe- but really, when a person is high s/he is usually compelled towards laziness and sitting in one place (hence, “stoned”). It’s a very peaceful feeling.

    Also, weed is not the only drug in Amsterdam and you have to consider what ELSE the criminals might have consumed.

    Correlation versus causation.

    Your final point is just completely wrong. Alcohol is an incredibly dangerous, physically addictive drug.

    You say “Typically, individuals responsibly self-monitor their consumption” of alcohol. Have you ever been to… maybe, a major city? Or a family function? Or… college? Considering this is “The College Conservative,” I’m sure at least the latter is true. Do you really think that what you’ve said is true? I see people walking around cities with brown paper bags completely zoned out, red-faced, and incoherent. I come from a family of alcoholics. In college, I see people typically NOT responsibly self-monitoring their consumption of alcohol every weekend, plus Thursday, and sometimes Wednesdays, Tuesdays, and Mondays. You go to any concert and their are people too drunk to stand. I cannot understand where you’re pulling this from. It’s hard not to see that society and culture both celebrate drunkenness. I’ve never been to a party where people shouted in unison, “let’s drink responsibly!” or “tonight, I’m going to drink myself sober!” or… yeah, your statement makes no sense.

    Do I even need to mention that you can die after a single night of drinking alcohol, but that there has never, ever, in the history of humankind been a death recorded as the direct result of marijuana?

    Show me a source saying marijuana is more addictive than alcohol, and I will show you 10 more that say otherwise. Also, unlike recovering from alcoholism, people who are addicted to marijuana do not run the risk of *dying.*

    It is usually consumed to the point of intoxication – absolutely, that’s the point!

    No intrinsic health properties – I think you’re right for the most part, except that you then tack on a horribly misguided statement about pain relief. Consider the alternatives to the “artificial” pain relief of marijuana. Most often -almost invariably- it’s opiates. Opiates, in case you don’t know, include heroin, morphine, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Percocet, etc. Basically, most of the main painkillers are opiates. These are all, as you might have guessed, highly addictive on a physical level. There are stories of people who are mis-prescribed these drugs, that then become addictive and find themselves on the streets looking for morphine or heroin. Unlike marijuana, these have the potential for overdose and death. We give these drugs to people on their death beds, rendering them essentially mute. (I’m thinking back to when my grandmother died)

    And the pain relief is artificial.

    Please tell me that does not sound backwards to you.

    If you take nothing else away from this long comment, please, please, please, do some more research! Stimson might have some good points on pages 4-6, but he hardly speaks for all of society.

  7. It’s a shame that you think you need the government to tell you right from wrong! Do you need the government to tell you not to do drugs? If so, truly sad. You state that 60% of arrestees test positive for cannabis use, but you leave out the statistic about how many were arrested for possession of cannabis. I wonder how many of those arrested smoke tobacco? Does that mean the tobacco made them commit the crime? No. Myth 3 has so many holes in it, that it doesn’t even seem to make a valid point. You claim that alcohol is safer but leave out the fact that it is IMPOSSIBLE to smoke yourself to death but is very easy to drink yourself to death! Alcohol can make the user chemically dependent, not so with cannabis. It takes 1-2 hits on cannabis to feel the high so yea it is consumed to the point of intoxication. You do realize that at one time cannabis was a legal and PRESCRIBED drug in the US? To say that we should criminalize it because we do not have a history of use in the nation is illogical at best and flat wrong at worst! Wake up!

  8. Peter Nicholls says:

    What a bunch of crap. If you legalized marijuana you could sell it at a much cheaper price than someone who grew it for profit. At $10 an ounce no one would go through the hassle of growing it on their own. It would not only raise tax revenue but would keep money out of the hands of drug cartels.

    The only victims or marijuana are the people involed in the the drug trade. People who smoke it recreationally do not commit crimes anymore than users of alcohol do. And for the record, if you’re going to make the tired old argument about marjiana being a gateway drug well then the same can be said about milk. Drink it and you’ll eventually turn to alchol.

    You’re just plain wrong when you say marijuana birth defects, pain, respiratory damage, brain damage, and stroke. No one, but a conservative would make such a ridiculous claim.

    Like most conservatives you have no clue about the what you’re talking about. More people lives have been ruined, more people have died do to alcohol. Admit it, prohibition does not work. All it does is make organized crime richer and corrupts our system. That was proven in the 30s

  9. 1. Draconian taxes might perpetuate a black market, but then again, maybe not. Simple answer, legalize and make the taxes reasonable just to be sure it won’t happen. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Swing and a miss, strike one.

    2. Nice weasal wording with the “linked to crime” phrase, you will make an excellent politician some day. As for your assertion, what those results indicate is that those among us who are willing commit real crimes are also willing to break the drug laws too. Shocking, isn’t it? It’s quite likely that many of those that tested positive for drugs also consumed alcoholic beverages prior to their arrests. Does that “link” alcohol to crime as well? So swing and a miss, strike two.

    3. Marijuana has been used by humans for 1000’s of years, so your assertion is meaningless. Besides, what is just about punishing people for doing something that is MORALLY no different than consuming alcoholic beverages? The hair splitting done here on this issue makes a mockery of justice and equality before the law. The hypocrisy here is staggering, pardon the pun. Strike three, you are out.

    There is only one word to desribe our drug laws. Tyranny. It saddens me that you and so many conservatives can’t see that.

    Conservatives might want to get on the right side of this issue, as legalization is coming. If they stay where they are now, they will be punished at the polls as this change happens. And deservedly so.

  10. If some one murders several people in a vicious and horrible manner most of us would agree to the execution of the murderer. Well doesn’t a drug dealer not murder hundreds if not thousands who die in overdoses or accidents or crimes that they would not been involved in except for their addiction. Doesn’t a drug dealer enslave hundreds or maybe thousands in a life of prostitution or crime to pay for their next “rock”. Yes the profit motive in selling, importing dope is great. But the first offence only gets you 7 or 8 years in prison and you’ve made millions. I say the death penalty should be required for large dealers as justice for their crimes against our society. …..

  11. The problem with the way of thinking that is expressed in this article, particularly the latter part, is that it unfairly stigmatizes a behavior just because, according to you, it is associated with some obviously bad behaviors. The best example that I can give you is a friend and former colleague. He’s a daily pot smoker. That, however, is where the comparisons stop to what you are describing. He’s usually in bed and asleep every night before I am, and he’s awake and moving and producing far earlier than I am. He is a very hard worker, he’s dedicated to the students whom he teaches (with whom he does NOT share info about his pot use, of course), stays at work late working on stuff for work and is often busy working on weekends for his job. He’s a completely harmless person, and to say that he’s a criminal just because of what OTHER people do associated with the substance is just wrong.

  12. When are the Drug Warriors gonna realize that the war on pot has FAILED, & that there is no Constitutional authority for having the federal government dictate to the States what to do about marijuana laws withing their borders? The 9th & 10th Amendments were written for a PURPOSE, & should be respected just as much as the 1st & 2nd. are.

    Marijuana & other drug prohibition is NOT a conservative idea. It was established by the PROGRESSIVES back in the early 20th Century. I appreciated Glenn Beck bringing up the fact that it was these Progressives that criminalized alcohol via the 18th Amendment, but his refusal to discuss these same people were the ones to criminalize other drugs around the same time is disgraceful. Marijuana was made “illegal” in 1937 by FDR (a Progressive) without using the Amendment process like alcohol was….& yet no one complains about FDR’s trampling on the rights of the States or the People to decide for themselves what to do.


  13. Hey 2alangroves, I appreciate your blog.

  14. @Dojon, do you think the people that sell alcohol should also get the death penalty? How about pharmacist? They sell drugs that can kill people and make millions (some do) doing it? You must open your eyes to the fact that people need to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for their actions! As I asked in my earlier post, Do you really need the government telling you what is right and wrong?

  15. There have been several excellent shows on National Geographic and History Channels about marijuana usage, history and medical value. They told a story that should be familiar to all of us, since our beloved government decided, in 1937, to lock up pot smokers. It was because, at the time, they associated it with blacks, mostly, and was another way to control them. The bill passed by the way, with hardly any debate. Pulled a fast one on us, they did. With prison space now so scarce, states must release violent criminals each year because they have no room to lock up more and more pot smokers. The US, supposedly the most free country in the world, has more people behind bars than any other country, total and per capita, and as I stated above, the problem is only getting worse.
    The government spends BILLIONS on the war on drugs, and many individuals stand to lose their livelihoods, and bribes if pot is made legal. Don’t look for it to happen.
    There are about 3 people in this country who legally get their prescribed joints from the US government each month. Their cases were grandfathered in. You can google everything I’ve stated if you want sources. My memory is very good, because this is a subject very dear to my heart.
    The legal industry of hemp production, which has nothing to do with the kind you smoke, was virtually shut down in 1937 too. DuPont had a lot to do with that law being passed. They were about to come out with nylon and hemp would have been a direct competitor. Hemp used for clothes is more durable than any artificial fiber or cotton, and easier on the environment for cultivation, as any farmer can grow the weed on land that won’t do well for food crops. In 1937 there were about 10 million acres in this country planted in hemp. There is no lignin to remove by bleaching like trees have, which is one big reason why hemp makes a better resource for paper than wood. You get four times as much paper from an acre of hemp than you do from trees. Again, better on the environment and it can be grown anywhere, it’s a WEED. This plant is a virtual miracle drug and raw material, good for making rope, sails, clothes that are longer lasting and much better than cotton. It has many other uses, too numerous to mention here. For over 1000 years its use has benefited all mankind. But big corporate interests had other things in mind for the emerging middle class to spend their money on, environment be dam*ed. The story of corporate rape of our land, resources and people is a long one and is not likely to go away soon, not without a global change from which there will be no turning back.

  16. what happened to “no government interference in the free market”?

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