For years, Donald Trump has been very outspoken on his views of drug and alcohol use. While on the campaign trail, Mr. Trump often shared the cautionary tale of his brother, who died of alcohol abuse. Now that he is president, it would seem that there are some politicians who would seek to contort the facts and label Mr. Trump forever as the “Pot President” by paving the way for the legalization and commercialization of marijuana.
Last week, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who until recently opposed even medical marijuana, introduced a bill to effectively shield the marijuana industry in Colorado from federal enforcement and smooth other barriers to legitimacy for the industry, such as banking access. While Senator Gardner will try to sell this to the president as a “states’ rights issue, make no mistake, this bill would amount to the de facto federal legalization of marijuana.
Given the president’s personal stances on drug and alcohol abuse, the last thing that he should want to be remembered as is the “Pot President.”
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump spoke often about the success of his children. During one campaign stop in New Hampshire, Mr. Trump discussed how he believed his children’s success was rooted in a daily maxim he instilled into them: “You know, since they were little, since they could barely speak, I’d say no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes.”
At another campaign rally in Wisconsin, Mr. Trump turned to a group of high school aged young men behind him, repeated his advice to his own children on drugs and made them pledge that they would never do drugs, be responsible with alcohol, and would not smoke cigarettes. He told them that they were “beautiful kids, but once you get hooked on the alcohol and the drugs, it makes your life very hard.”
Mr. Trump’s children have also frequently mentioned the fact that their father would, “every morning before school…every day of our life,” tell them not to do drugs, drink or smoke.
As president, Mr. Trump has stated that his administration will work to keep Americans, especially children, from using drugs. If marijuana were to be legalized and commercialized, this goal would indeed fail.
The president must first understand that marijuana poses a whole host of problems to public health.
Today’s highly-potent pot quadruples the risk of depression. In one study, teenagers who regularly used pot were seven times more likely to commit suicide. People who use pot are six times more likely to suffer from psychosis or schizophrenia. The American Heart Association (AHA) has said that marijuana users double their risk of heart disease and the American Lung Association strongly urges people to avoid marijuana because of the carcinogens. According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the “greatest mortality from drugs comes from legal drugs. The moment you make a drug legal, you’re going to increase the number of people who get exposed to it, and…increase the negative consequences of it.”
Liberalizing marijuana laws will just pour gasoline on the fire that is the opioid epidemic. The majority of people dying from opioid abuse used marijuana first. On top of that, the American Journal of Psychiatry reports that marijuana users have an increased risk of prescription opioid abuse. The increased availability of marijuana will lead to more prescription drug abuse and more Americans dying from opiates.
Colorado currently holds the top ranking for first time marijuana use among youth, representing a 65 percent increase in the years since legalization. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the average rate of teen marijuana use in the legalized states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington is 30% higher than the U.S. rate as a whole. Almost a third of all 18-25-year olds in those states have used marijuana in the past month, up from around one-fifth ten years ago.
President Trump’s advice to his own children and to many others, has been simple: no drugs, no alcohol and no cigarettes. If the president is to truly believe the advice he has given his children to stay away from drugs has contributed to their success, he must continue giving that advice and not allow the legalization and commercialization of marijuana to happen under his administration.
If he does, then his legacy will forever be that of the Pot President.
Jon Talcott serves as chairman of the board for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM)
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.