Washington, D.C., has the highest percentage of marijuana smokers in the nation, reports the Washington Post. “More than 11 percent of Washingtonians older than 26 reported smoking marijuana in the past year – the highest percentage of any state in the nation, according to a 2007 survey by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.”
Is that a problem? Well, back around 1990 a satirical revue described the city government as “the nation’s first work-free drug zone.” But the people described in the Post article seem to work pretty hard, as scientists, businessmen, and so on.
One problem is inadvertently described by D.C. Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham:
“People don’t feel marijuana is dangerous, but it is, because of the way it is sold,” he said. “We frequently recover weapons when serving search warrants associated with the sale of marijuana.”
Exactly. Because marijuana is illegal, it’s not sold by kindly old liquor store owners. It’s distributed by people who are by definition criminal and who tend to engage in criminal behavior to protect their markets.
Its illegal distribution also accounts for another phenomenon that the Post notes:
Teenagers in parts of the city said they can buy pot more easily than beer or cigarettes.
Legal products, for sale to adults only, are harder for teenagers to obtain than a product that is illegal for everyone. Maybe it’s time to rethink the success of drug prohibition.