Pot panic goes up in smoke


Although we’re only about a week into the state’s foray into the recreational marijuana industry, it’s telling enough already that the world hasn’t come to a cataclysmic end in a fiery crash of destruction.

If anything, the apt description of the first week of legal pot sales to anyone 21 and older would be to say it’s been pretty uneventful. One of the five operating retailers visited by the Beacon during the initial opening suggested that facilities were prepared for a surge in customers that didn’t actually materialize.

It’s not really a surprising result for anyone who has been looking at the subject of recreational marijuana legalization through a neutral lens.

For years now, responsible adults who enjoy the recreational high offered to them by cannabis have been able to hop just across the border and secure marijuana legally from stores in Massachusetts. They have, for years, taken that legally-purchased weed, carefully secured in its sealed container, back to the comfort and safety of their homes in Rhode Island, where they have enjoyed it responsibly and without incident.

Those wishing to instill a fear-based moral panic over the evils of recreational marijuana have ignored this reality for as long as it was politically expedient to do so — and some continue to cling to conflicted scientific studies (for which you can cherry pick any handful of in order to serve whatever argument you want to bolster) in order to ignore the fact that most people engage in this activity in a safe and responsible way.

Of course, there will be incidents where people partake in a way that is irresponsible. There will be highly-publicized cases in the coming weeks and months where someone gets into a car accident while smoking a joint in their car, and those cases will be used to leverage the same old tired arguments that we have opened a Pandora’s Box of chaos all for some meager tax revenue.

As we have said in the past, such an argument cannot hold water in a world where drunk driving incidents occur by the dozen in our state each and every week. The burden of responsibility has always been on the individual to exercise caution and care for their fellow residents, whether the drug is legal or not. At least, in this system, the state is capturing revenue that was presently being sent out of state, where we hope it will actually do some good and generate positive outcomes for the communities that decide to allow such businesses to operate.

We are cautiously optimistic that Rhode Island’s embracing of legalizing marijuana for recreational use will become a forgotten part of life as usual in the not-so-distant future, and all of the bountiful energy being utilized by anti-pot alarmists will be put towards any one of the far more worthy causes of concern in our society.

pot, panic, editorial


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