What is adult prohibition of marijuana achieving, if teenage use rates of marijuana are nearly as high as those for cigarettes, where we don't have adult prohibition. Prohibitionists argue that adult marijuana must be banned because its legal availability to adults would make it easier for teens to obtain, but a direct comparison of marijuana and tobacco smoking demonstrates little utility from this approach:
The cigarette use figure represents a sharp drop from
the 2005 survey, when it was 23 percent. Marijuana use, at 20.2 percent
in 2005, showed a much smaller decline....
released this week, the Fiscal Year 2007 Annual Synar Report on tobacco
sales to youth, showed the 10th straight annual decline in the rate of
illegal tobacco sales to minors. In 1997, 40.1 percent of retailers
violated laws against tobacco sales to minors. In 2007 the rate had
dropped to just 10.5 percent, the lowest ever.
"Efforts to curb
cigarette sales to teens have been wildly successful, and it's past
time we applied those lessons to marijuana," said Aaron Houston,
director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in
Washington, D.C. "Tobacco retailers can be fined or put out of business
if they sell to kids, but prohibition guarantees that we have zero
control over marijuana dealers. Foolish policies have guaranteed that
the marijuana industry is completely unregulated."
Jacob Sullum provides additional analysis in the rest of the post.