Published On: Sun, Feb 8th, 2015

Michael Bloomberg: Colorado’s Legalized Marijuana Stupid Idea

Was he actually promoting a return to filling up state jails with non-violent drug offenders? Because that would really be stupid.

michael bloomberg weed

When you’re a multimillionaire ($36.6 billion, according to Forbes) and a retired, three-term mayor of a major city, it means you can insult anyone you feel like, including your hosts — it’s the law. At least, that’s the 72-year-old Michael Bloomberg‘s law.

Speaking Friday evening before a sold-out crowd at the Aspen Institute, the rich sage Bloomberg declared Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana was stupid.

In November of 2012, Colorado voters passed the very popular Amendment 64 to the state constitution, outlining a statewide drug policy for cannabis. It determines that adults 21 or older can grow up to three immature and three mature cannabis plants privately in a locked space, legally possess all cannabis from the plants they grow (as long as it stays where it was grown), legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis while traveling, and give as a gift up to one ounce to other citizens 21 years of age or older. Consumption is permitted in a manner similar to alcohol, with equivalent offenses proscribed for driving.

Last May, Governor John Hickenlooper signed two bills that made Colorado the first place anywhere to regulate the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

The state expected to raise about $25 million from a new excise tax on marijuana. The new laws are capping weed taxation until 2017, to keep prices down. Afterwards — who knows?

Altogether, it didn’t seem like s stupid move at all, especially since Colorado is expected to reduce significantly it expenses to catch, prosecute and incarcerate most marijuana users — making money on their pot use instead.

One can expect that all the other law and order issues that normally accompany illegal drugs — like gang turf wars and lack of medical supervision — would become a thing of the past in Colorado.

But Bloomberg still didn’t like it, because it makes kids stupid.

“What are we going to say in 10 years when we see all these kids whose IQs are 5 and 10 points lower than they would have been?” he asked his audience. “I couldn’t feel more strongly about it, and my girlfriend says it’s no different than alcohol. It is different than alcohol. This is one of the stupider things that’s happening across our country.”

On that, the former mayor is not entirely wrong. According to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas, the effects of chronic marijuana use on the brain probably depend on the age of first use and on the duration of use.

Their paper, published last November in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), for the first time comprehensively describes existing abnormalities in brain function and structure of long-term marijuana users, via multiple magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.

The findings show chronic marijuana users have smaller brain volume in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a part of the brain commonly associated with addiction, but also increased brain connectivity.

So, yes, you’ll smoke a lot of weed a lot of time, you will definitely go stupid.

“We have seen a steady increase in the incidence of marijuana use since 2007, ” said Dr. Francesca Filbey, Associate Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas and Director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research in Addictive Disorders at the Center for BrainHealth. “However, research on its long-term effects remains scarce despite the changes in legislation surrounding marijuana and the continuing conversation surrounding this relevant public health topic.”

This is to say, their sample was of just 100 subjects — 48 users, 62 non-users. Not what you’ll call conclusive evidence.

Obviously, from all our personal observations, folks who use pot do behave stupidly, and the more they use, the stupider they get. But when the mayor insulted an entire state for daring to give pot the same legal status as alcohol and cigarettes — was he actually promoting a return to filling up state jails with non-violent drug offenders? Because that would really be stupid.

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