In other words, in a prohibition state, the mere act of smoking marijuana would mean that you are breaking the law. But in a legal state, only driving under the influence would warrant an illegal action. When you’re already doing something illegal, doing other things that are illegal costs less than if you are not breaking the law.
However, the authors also believe that there could be another reason.
“States that have not legalized cannabis cannot regulate the labeling of cannabis products, while many recreational and medical states require warning labels and instructions on products,” the researchers wrote. “Some edible cannabis products contain warnings about driving within a few hours of consumption.”
This is part of the consumer education benefit of legalization. You can actually put warnings on the consumer products compared to the illicit market that has no regulations. This means that by the simple act of consuming a legal product in a cannabis friendly state, you are being exposed to the ideas of responsible consumption right on the packaging.
While many people might not read these labels, the unconscious mind picks up on them and slowly over time begins to cement itself within the consumer’s mind. This isn’t possible in prohibition states.
In fact, the authors recognized this in their research:
“Because regulation of cannabis products in non-legal environments is not possible, mass media campaigns may be a good option by providing education about DUIC,” the authors said, concluding that: “Although all states should educate its citizens about the potential dangers of using cannabis and driving, this analysis suggests that states without legal cannabis are particularly in need of DUIC prevention efforts.”
Ironically, it seems that the states that cling onto the myths perpetuated by prohibition are the ones suffering from the consequences these myths suggest would happen if you legalize cannabis. The truth of the matter is that legalization as a policy has worked and while there certainly are areas of improvement, society is experiencing a net benefit from legalization.
Prohibition does nothing to reduce cannabis consumption, and seemingly performs poorer in reducing the potential side effects of mass cannabis consumption – reducing DUIC, youth consumption, etc.
What would happen if we do this with all drugs?