The head of an organization that believes the problems relating to alcohol and other drugs are in direct proportion to consumption is speaking out against the federal effort to decriminalize marijuana.
Dr. Joe Godfrey, president of the American Council on Addiction and Alcohol Problems (ACAAP), says the House bill is all about money.
"It's being pushed by the marijuana industry, people who stand to make billions of dollars from people that get addicted to their drug," Dr. Godfrey continues.
He further acknowledges the argument that marijuana is not addictive as "bogus."
"State governments and the federal government see it as a tax revenue source, but they're all ignoring the social costs," Dr. Godfrey submits. "They don't count the cost of broken homes and families and destroyed lives [or] lost time at work. The marijuana industry is ignoring all of that."
He believes the same could be said for the expansion of alcohol sales.
"With marijuana, if you're under the influence, you're not going to be very productive at work, and so that is a cost to society when employees are going to be less efficient and less cognizant of what they're doing," the ACAAP president explains.
But members of the Democrat-controlled House, including a few Republicans, see things differently. They voted last Friday to pass HR 3884, which aims to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. Supporters of the measure say it also takes steps to address racial disparities in enforcement of federal drug laws.
Therein lies another problem, says Dr. Godfrey.
"They're making it a civil rights issue, [saying] that this is hurting minorities and so forth, but they're ignoring that minorities will be hurt the most by legalizations," he asserts.""You won't find pot shops in upscale neighborhoods. You're going to find the pot shops opened in low-income neighborhoods, and they're going to be targeting minorities and low-income people of all races."
Dr. Godfrey adds that there have been dramatic increases of young people using high-potency marijuana products at the same time as rising rates of marijuana-impaired driving in states where marijuana is now legal.
"That kind of leads to my last point," Dr. Godfrey tells One News Now. "What they're doing is setting the table for legalizing all drugs."
He uses Oregon as one example, where voters have approved a ballot measure that decriminalizes possession of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone, and other drugs.
HR 3884, the bill approved last week in the U.S. House, is now at the Senate.