Marijuana should remain illegal because “[m]ost folks with marijuana wouldn’t be sitting around a wedding reception smoking marijuana,” according to Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).
The comment about marijuana at weddings was Walker’s attempt to distinguish marijuana from alcohol, he claimed that “[i]f I’m at a wedding reception here and somebody has a drink or two, most people wouldn’t say they’re wasted.”
In fairness to Walker, his comments to reporters on Tuesday explaining why he opposes legalizing marijuana did not focus exclusively on whether people smoke pot at weddings. The Wisconsin governor claimed that he spoke to sheriffs who told him that “when they talked about heroin and meth and other issues that they were still very concerned that (marijuana) was a gateway drug” — i.e. that people who smoke marijuana become more likely to use harder drugs.
The sheriffs Walker spoke to may believe that this “gateway” effect actually exists, but it has little, if any, scientific support. As a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) explained in 1999, “[t]here is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.” The IOM agrees that people who use heroin or cocaine typically used marijuana first, but it does not follow from this fact that marijuana use actually causes people to use illegal drugs.
Moreover, if the “gateway” argument is taken to its logical extreme, America will need to ban far more than marijuana — “most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana,” according to the IOM. So, under Walker’s gateway rationale, people at wedding receptions shouldn’t be allowed to have a glass of wine any more than they should be able to smoke a joint.