Free Minds & Free Markets

Stossel: Legal Weed So Far

Dire warnings about legal marijuana have not come to pass.

Ten states plus Washington, D.C., have legalized pot for adults.

In several states, it's been legal now for five years. How has it worked out?

John Stossel visited legal weed stores in California and talked with people on the street.

Almost unanimously, people said that legalization has worked well.

"See any disasters? Seems pretty alright to me," one man told Stossel.

One woman added: "There's a dispensary around the corner from my house and it's actually probably cleaned up the corner."

"Why would it clean up the corner?" Stossel asked.

"They have a lot of security ... they really paid attention to who's on the sidewalk, who's interacting with their customers. They're actually pretty much a class act."

But Paul Chabot, a drug warrior who served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, disagrees. Years ago, he told Stossel that legalization would create all kinds of problems. He hasn't changed his mind.

Chabot tells Stossel that "Colorado youth have an 85% higher marijuana use rate than the rest of the country."

But Stossel pointed out that a New England Journal of Medicine study says that teen use actually dropped slightly after legalization.

On the other hand, data on marijuana-linked traffic fatalities is mixed.

Chabot tells Stossel that "pot driving fatalities in Colorado are up 151%." But that statistic is misleading because many of those people may not have been high while driving. The 151% includes anyone who tests positive for marijuana after an accident, even though traces of marijuana stay in a person's system for weeks. A more stringent measure that more reliably predicts whether someone was high at the time of an accident indicates cannabis-related accidents are up 84 percent.

That's still an increase. But the total numbers are low—just 35 accidents in 2017. More study is needed.

Marijuana is not harmless, but Stossel notes that the drug war usually does more harm than the drug itself. Banning marijuana drives sales into a black market, where criminals make the profit. Driving sales underground also deprives consumers of the quality and safety testing now provided by competitive legal markets. It doesn't stop teenagers from using the drug. A study before legalization found that teens said marijuana was easier to buy than alcohol. A black market leads dealers to sell in schools and may even increase marijuana's use.

America once tried banning alcohol. That, like the drug war, created organized crime, and much more violence.

"Prohibition hasn't worked," Stossel tells Chabot.

"Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean that we end it ... doesn't mean we quit," Chabot replies.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't think it's entirely fair to throw it back in Paul Chabot's face that he's been completely wrong. It's his life's work, for pity's sake!

  • D-Pizzle||

    He's the Paul Ehrlich of drug warriors.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I do have to hand it to him, he did stick to his guns. I particularly enjoyed the answer about quitting is not American :)

  • MoreFreedom||

    "At some point when it's doing more harm than good, shouldn't we quit?" Stossel responds.

    "No, because then we give up. And that's not American," Chabot tells him.

    Chabot is the un-American one. It's not American to refuse to give others freedom, and fine/jail people for merely smoking pot which doesn't harm others or their property.

    You can't have freedom (and the prosperity and happiness that comes with it) unless you're first willing to give it to others. Chabot isn't willing.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean that we end it...

    That's for sure.

  • H. Farnham||

    "The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason."

    I knew it! Reason is a bunch of conservative, drug-warrior nanny-statists!

  • FreeRadical||

    That boiler-plate legal wording leads to some interesting contradictions. The drug warrior dude expressed views that I'm sure are not the views of John Stossel.

  • FreeRadical||

    Oops, I didn't read the whole disclaimer. Ignore my comment.

  • vek||

    Shiiit, I think I'd prefer that to them being progressive-lite on a ton of issues where they seem totally cool with non libertarian principles, as long as they're the trendy ones pushed by the left.

  • Rich||

    "At some point when it's doing more harm than good, shouldn't we quit?" Stossel responds.

    "No, because then we give up. And that's not American," Chabot tells him.

    *** facepalm ***

  • ColoradoKook||

    I laughed at Chabot's quip about continuing a failed policy (if I didn't know better, I would think its satire), but I also took issue with Stossel using anectodal evidence as proof there are no ill effects from legalization.

    There are people who move to here thinking pot is a panacea, and they stress the social system when they don't contribute to the community. 16th Street Mall in Denver is a literal shithole now. There are negative side effects to legalization, of course.

    As more states legalize marijuana, however, I think this problem will begin to go away. It will no longer be novel to travel to places like Colorado for pot when people can get it legally at home.

  • ColoradoKook||


  • Eric||

    I just read where there's an initiative to decriminalize Psilocybin in trade those stoned loafers on the mall with another sort.

  • WillPaine||

    CK; see Portugal. They have decrim'ed, and it is working out well. The problems are not drugs. The problems are caused by prohibition. See alcohol. See "Chasing the Scream" it could change your world view; the truth. J. Hari went through Anslinger's papers and diaries. It's a mind blower, a book that answers a lot.
    And could you explain the negative side effects; of course? Thx

  • vek||

    Yup. Portugal for the win!

    Those Portuguese must really know how to party... Legal crack AND I think the age of consent is 12! LOL

  • ColoradoKook||

    Also, fire that bartender who doesn't know how to properly pour a beer.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    ""Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean that we end it ... doesn't mean we quit," Chabot replies."

    And there you have, in a nutshell, a lot of what is wrong, not just with the War On Drugs (tm) but with government in general.

    Also, I hope Chalbot goes to hell.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Also, I hope Chalbot goes to hell."

    He already did, they sent him back.

  • Eric||

    Does this video get played on Fox News for Grandma and Grandpa?

    Otherwise pretty much everyone else in the country already agrees with you Stossel.

  • Naaman Brown||

    "Prohibition hasn't worked," Stossel tells Chabot.
    "Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean that we end it ... doesn't mean we quit," Chabot replies.

    As the ten-year sunset of the Clinton 1994 Assault Weapon Ban approached, reviews studies of academic research on the impact of the AWB and other gun policy on gun violence were released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2003 and the National Research Council in 2004. They found no measurable impact of the Assault Weapon Ban or any other gun policy for that matter on bad behavior by bad people.

    "Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean that we end it ... doesn't mean we quit."

    If something doesn't work as intended, we just need to do more of the same, and put down critics and shame naysayers, until it does work as good intentions intend, because good intents count more than practical results.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    " good intents count more than practical results"

    sounds like something AOC would say.

  • gaoxiaen||

    ""Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean that we end it ... doesn't mean we quit," Chabot replies." I still want a paycheck for doing nothing.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    "See any disasters? Seems pretty alright to me," one man told Stossel.

    'Pretty alright'?? It's almost as if he doesn't know Der Trumpenfurher was elected!!!

  • Dr. Mike||

    Cannabis-impaired driving is often raised as a concern to impede the legalization of cannabis. I have developed a new public health app that is a general measure of impairment from cannabis or any source; it's called DRUID (an acronym for "DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs") available now in the App Store and in Google Play. DRUID statistically integrates hundreds of data points into an overall impairment score and takes just 2 minutes.

    DRUID was featured on the PBS News Hour and in Wired magazine. Cannabis researchers at Yale, Brown, Johns Hopkins, WSU and UC Boulder are using DRUID in their labs. After legalization in California, NORML of California added a link to DRUID on their website and encouraged cannabis users to download it. DRUID is the Gold Standard for Impairment Assessment. A recent report from the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College lists DRUID as the only objective measure of impairment for the roadside. Our website is

    DRUID allows cannabis users (or others who drink alcohol, use prescription drugs, etc.) to self-assess their own level of impairment and (hopefully) decide against driving if they are impaired. Prior to DRUID, there was no way for an individual to accurately assess their own level of impairment.

  • WillPaine||

    Mr. Chabot reminds me of Harry Anslinger; playing on fear, and made up statistics. The drug war has nothing to do with drugs. (See "Chasing the Scream" J. Hari); 100 years of the drug war. I don't recommend drugs. Bad drugs, from caffeine, to alcohol, to tobacco, to any drugs. But, and the drug war has caused VASTLY more misery, suffering, and treasure wasting than drugs ever have. Stop the war; Portugal has, and it is a success; less crime, more money to spend on real crime (including violent drug dealers), less prostitution, etc...peace

  • WillPaine||

    Cabot's "never give up" (no matter how stupid), reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut character; a dog. A dog that tries to bite the tires of every car that goes by. Every once in a while, he catches one, and is slammed into the pavement, and limps away, only to run at the next car. Eventually, the dog becomes crippled, but he never gives up. Now, he hobbles after cars, he is so crippled, and is sure one day he will catch one.
    Vonnegut tells it better than I do...:-) Chabot is just that dog.

  • YahYouBetchaa||

    I am impressed with John Stossel's coverage of it. He is right; what we put in our bodies it our choice. According to that "drug warrior's" rationale, why don't we make bleach illegal while we're at it? Since it's so lethal

  • vek||


    I wonder what all the drug dealers would do if we actually legalized everything? Can you imagine the poor bastards used to making hundreds of thousands a year, never having had a real job, all of a sudden having to do more "proper" work for a change. Would be interesting.

    I know vaguely a few people in this boat for weed in Washington state. One guy grows good stuff, and since he isn't paying taxes, can still undercut price wise. So AFAIK he's still doing it. But if taxes were lower, he'd definitely have to get a real job. I'm sure tons of lesser growers were thrown out of the weed trade when legal stuff came around though.

  • Cthulunotmyfriend||

    I think this is spot on. Alcohol can be destructive, but it has been proven to be immensely stupid to outlaw it, like we did during prohibition. Same with marijuana. It may be worse than alcohol, maybe not, but maybe it is... But... Freedom ——> Danger. I want my freedom, I don't want to live in a Nanny State. Hell, if you want to make the US safer, outlaw guns, There will be far fewer gun deaths due to "accidents". Gun deaths in all other industrialized nations are a fraction of those in the USA. However, I think that would be a terrible idea. Luckily, we have the second ammendment, so that won't happen anytime soon. I feel like all this stuff is covered under the 9th ammendment anyhow.
    "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

  • ||

    Having been a federal contract worker during the Obama shutdown, they are exactly right. While the civil servants have a nice vacation with backpay, federal contract workers (who do most of the actual work) were not getting paid.

    My problem with the shutdown is that it's an utter waste of money. The civil servants are getting paid, and we aren't getting the benefits of their working. It's a lose-lose situation.

  • vek||

    Not if they don't authorize back pay!

    They're not OBLIGATED to give back pay, they just typically do to be nice. Trump should threaten to not give back pay unless they meet a certain deadline. That'd make their assholes twitch!


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