For the past decade numerous advocates have loudly proclaimed that legalizing recreation drugs is the answer to “the drug problem.”

Their claims seem to be that if you legalize these drugs, then the purity would be regulated and, in that way, there would be fewer health related issues.

Well for the last couple of years 40 states have been experimenting with the legalization of cannabis and cannabis related products; how has that worked out?
California is one of the states that legalized cannabis after a majority of poorly informed voters were convinced “pot was harmless;” that legalization would end illegal sales and reduce drug overdoses. They were wrong.

Following the election, Greg Miller cited on the University of California San Diego (UCSD) cannabis research website a report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Science Magazine on Jan. 12, 2017 which stated:

“The committee reports ‘substantial evidence’ linking early marijuana use with substance abuse later in life and suggesting that cannabis increases the likelihood of respiratory problems, motor vehicle accidents, and low birth weight in infants born to pot-smoking mothers.” That doesn’t sound good.

Even though the Lompoc City Council was aware of the UCSD study, and the potential medical and psychological issues associated with cannabis, they approved on a split vote the manufacturing and sale of cannabis in the city with no limit to the number of businesses that would be allowed to operate.

I was not a supporter of the legalization of cannabis; however, I sympathize with the folks who thought that because government legalized this product, they would be able to compete with other legal operators. They and voters were very naive to think the illegal trade, which had existed for generations, could somehow be eliminated.

A recent report in Noozhawk authored by David Hilzenrath, “Legal Pot Is More Potent Than Ever — And Still Largely Unregulated” is stark testimony to the absurdity of the legalization claims.

“In 2021, 16.3 million people in the United States — 5.8% of people 12 or older — had experienced a marijuana use disorder (commonly defined as addiction) within the past year, according to a survey published in January by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  That was far more than the combined total found to have substance use disorders involving cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, prescription stimulants such as Adderall, or prescription pain relievers such as fentanyl and OxyContin.”
And the Wall Street Journal reported: “From 2012 to 2022, post-accident marijuana positive test rates tripled, tracking with widening legalization.”

But why has this experiment with legalizing recreational drugs seemingly failed?

In a May 2023 city of Lompoc budget hearing, the police chief stated that there were currently 73 active permit applications within the city limits. Chief Kevin Martin was requesting additional staff to perform compliance audits, as his predecessor had, after reminding the council that when they accepted responsibility for licensing cannabis operations in the city, they also agreed to perform state-mandated audits of those businesses, but have failed to provide the resources necessary to do the job.

When politicians in Lompoc chose to allow the use of cannabis, they overlooked one of the key elements of the enabling ordinance, which was to “mitigate or reduce the crime-related secondary impacts associated with cannabis use, cultivation, possession, manufacture, distribution, processing.”

By ignoring their responsibility to adequately fund the oversight of this new industry they created an adverse impact on the health and safety of the community.

Illegal sales are at least as prolific as they were prior to Proposition 64, and probably greater since there are no, or minimal enforcement or punitive actions taken against street level dealers.

Apparently, politicians thought the cannabis-using public would follow the rules and flock to legal dealers to acquire their high. But legal dealers have reported they are losing business to street vendors while use of this drug has increased dramatically.

In addition, there are no regulatory limits on the strength of THC in cannabis; what in the 1960s had a concentration of THC less than 1.6 percent has now increased to as much as 90 percent. In the legal market and on the street, the increased concentration in the new stuff is roughly 50 times more potent than the old stuff.

And as Noozhawk reported, “the buzz of yesteryear has given way to something more alarming. Marijuana-related medical emergencies have landed hundreds of thousands of people in the hospital and millions are dealing with psychological disorders linked to cannabis use, according to federal research.”

The simple fact is that in Lompoc and probably in the rest of the state and nation, legalization of this substance has increased the use/abuse of illegal drugs, and not mitigated or reduced the crime or health related secondary impacts.  Quite simply — the experiment is failing.


Wall Street Journal report:

Lompoc enabling ordinance: