Legalizing Marijuana – With Luke Niforatos: Should we legalize marijuana? Do we even realize what legalization could entail? Who is invested in the marijuana industry? Should ripple effects be considered when deciding what whould be lawful in a society? What are unintended consequences of legalizing marijuana? What are smart approaches to marijuana? What are the pros and cons of the Feds letting the States decide? What can states learn from Colorado? Tune in to hear Luke Niforatos give insightful information on a divisive topic!
Air Date: 03/23/2021
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
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Alright, David and Tim, interesting, unique program today. We’re going to talk about some of the measures across the country on marijuana. And when later in the program, we’ll have Luke Niforatos back with us, he’s with SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
Look at the Science
They provide a lot of great science and data to legislators and to just all of us about how to deal with this issue and what state should be doing and where the line needs to be drawn on these kinds of things. So we’ll get his input then.
But you guys just give me a little bit of just from the standpoint, because sometimes our conservative friends will even say, well, you know, it’s none of the government’s business, whether, you know, you want to do drugs, or some of these things.
And there’s just some things that are so bad for our community, and so detrimental to a society, that we as a society should be able to say, hey, we don’t want that in our backyard. We don’t want that in our community. So let’s just kind of step back and say, is there ever a time we should say no to something or should we just let everybody do whatever they want?
I think, Rick, you really hit something there. Because in this case with the use of drugs, and what should be legal and illegal, there are outcomes that are measurable with the use of certain drugs: there are statistics that indicate what’s there. When those statistics indicate behavior that is harming a society, and you have second and third tier ripples coming out of that, those are things to be looked at. Because you can’t just say, Well, I can do what I want to well, no, not if it’s hurting other people.
And the thing I would point out on this, I’m going to go back to an argument that’s been around for a number of decades. I’m old enough to remember it. It may be a new argument for a lot of people. But it goes back to the notion that there are some hard drugs that are bad for you. And we see that even now with opioid crisis with what’s happening with the abuse of prescription drugs, and how many deaths are attributed to that, what it’s doing in education with young people, etc.
A Gateway Drug
But the thing that we had been told for 40 years before this was, well, marijuana is always considered a gateway drug to this. And gateway drug is once you start using that, you usually don’t stop with marijuana, you usually go on to other things. And so went through various things or heroin or crack cocaine or whatever, and now, it’s opioid drugs.
Whatever it is, it has always been the gateway drug to other harder drugs that did have societal consequences. And so with all the recent move in the last 10 to 12 years of a dozen at least states that have moved into legalization of marijuana, it’s not surprising based on their philosophy, that it’s a gateway drug to other behaviors as well. And so people keep arguing whether I have the right to use marijuana. And that’s not really where the arguments should stop.
Well, and it’s worth pointing out right that not everybody who has smoked marijuana is going to do hard drugs. However, almost without exception, everybody that has hard drugs has smoked marijuana. So you do see a link. But this is where I think dad even the point you’re making.
The argument is if you look at something like gambling, where people say, hey, gambling is not that bad of a deal, right, if it raises tax money for school districts and for roads, and it’s going to help a community out, like, what’s the problem with a state embracing gambling? Well, what are other consequences? What are the other side effects of gambling?
And what we see is, actually, there’s a lot of devastating side effects that come with gambling that it actually costs in the community, and oftentimes, in minority communities, in the poor communities, it costs them a lot, because it increases their levels of poverty and increases the levels of brokenness inside of homes. There’s actually a whole litany of things that they have shown that these are consequences when cultures embrace gambling.
And actually, the only people who really get wealthy at gambling are the people who run the gambling institutions or facilities or the lottery, it’s not the people who play the lottery. It was known for a long time as a poor tax, because people who were poor thought this is the way I can get out of poverty, but they’ll spend literally thousands of dollars a year on the lottery and not get anything back from it, at least certainly not what they’re putting into it. This was something that you would look at the downstream consequences, the same thing.
If you look at prostitution, because the argument could be, wait a second, if someone is old enough that they can make this decision, and they choose to sell their body, what’s the problem with it? And you can have those arguments, but the question should always be, what are the downstream effects of this? And I know there’s some people in conservative circles and more specifically in libertarian circles, who say, hey, if you’re a grown adult, you should be able to do whatever you want with your body.
One of the Founding Fathers had a very interesting thought, Benjamin Rush, where he points out from the book of Romans, where it says that no man liveth unto himself, that nobody is an island, and your life impacts other people. So when people do drugs, there’s a ripple effect that will impact other people. When prostitution becomes legalized, it doesn’t just affect the people that are participating in that immoral act of prostitution, it impacts other societal areas as well.
And so what we’re arguing is not should one individual be able to take a puff of a marijuana joint or whatever the case might be? No, what is this going to do to society? What impact will this have? And this is where that we should just ask honest questions. Because it could be, I understand, there could be an argument where you say, wait a second, like the Bible, it says don’t get drunk, but it doesn’t say don’t have a drink.
Not the Same Marijuana
So is beer okay, but smoking marijuana is not, why? You can have an intelligent, theological conversation where you cover data, where you look at downstream effects. What is the implication? What harm might this do? What are the unintended consequences that might come from this? We can have very honest conversations.
And this is where I’m so grateful for organizations like SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, because they do try to look at this from an objective, honest perspective, saying just what is the reality of this? Where marijuana has been legalized, what has it produced? What are the consequences? When states are saying this, what does it look like?
Even the fact that the marijuana, generally speaking, that we deal with today is not the same marijuana from 20 years ago. When you look at the potency levels of the THC that’s in it, there’s so many factors that if you’re going to have an honest conversation, you need to look at these details. And again, this is where SAM does such a good job at revealing some of those details.
Luke Niforatos from SAM will be with us. And the website, by the way, if you want to do some research on your own, they have some great videos and information, it’s learnaboutsam.org. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Moment from American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. After the final victory at Yorktown, the Continental Army awaited the outcome of peace negotiations with Great Britain. Pastor Israel Evans, a chaplain in the army proposed to George Washington that they build a structure where church services can be held during the months of waiting. Washington approved the plan and urged his officers to ensure that the soldiers attended service.
Pastor Evans further knew if we were to secure the liberties they had fought for, sound education would be crucial. He declared, “Every parent and every friend have the freedom of his country ought to be attentive to the improvement of our youth in the principles of freedom and good government, and then the people will stand fast in their liberty for a long time.” Our schools today need to return to teaching the principles of freedom and good government in order for America to survive and prosper.
For more information about Pastor Israel Evans and other colonial patriots, go to wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Luke Niforatos is back with us. Busy in Washington DC fighting his legalization of marijuana all over the country and informing people on it just so they can make wise decisions on what’s happening. Luke, always good to have you, man. Thanks for coming back on the program.
Welcome Luke Niforatos
Hey, thank you, Rick. It’s a pleasure to be on. And I hope you’re doing well?
Well, you as well. And SAM seems to be you guys Smart Approaches to Marijuana. You all are busy, busy, I know. But apparently, now we’re looking at legislation passed at the federal level in the House dealing with this issue. Tell us what happened.
Yeah. Yeah. So late last year in the lame duck period, they kind of Speaker Pelosi in the House Democrats, they kind of pushed a bill through kind of throw away before in the lame duck period called the More ACT and what this would do is it would federally legalize marijuana and have absolutely no regulations and no public health guardrails whatsoever.
So what that would mean is, you know, federally, it would be legal to sell candies and cookies with super high potency marijuana. No advertising restrictions, like we have with tobacco. No potency restrictions. Nothing. Which was just incredibly just irresponsible for the House to pass a bill like that, but they did. And then it went to the Senate where it died.
So that bill is now dead in the Senate. But obviously, we’ve obviously had a change in the dynamics of Congress. And so there’s some discussion about potentially bringing a form of this bill back. But what it comes down to is just the question of, should we legalize marijuana or not? And we have to understand what legalization means.
The Marijuana Industry
And legalization, Rick, means commercialization, it means creating a new marijuana industry, just like the tobacco industry. In fact, it’s invested in by the tobacco industry with over $2 billion from Altria, Philip Morris. So if we want to relive that experience that we have with tobacco, then sure, let’s legalize it. But if you have concerns on the public health side, and you know, people’s lives and other things, then you should have a lot of concerns with legalization.
And just a backup so the bill that went through the House and died in the Senate, some people would say, I just don’t really mean much. But actually does, because it tells us that this could actually happen again in this legislative session, or this Congress. And it looks like they did it by a fairly, fairly wide margin.
That’s right. Yeah. So interestingly, there were a number of Democrats who actually voted against the bill, which was interesting. But you’re right, it does mean that, you know, this was a historic vote. It was the first time Congress has ever voted on legalization of marijuana. So obviously, it shows that the industry is getting some return on investment.
They’ve hired all of the top K Street lobbying firms in DC, all the well finance lobbyists are working for the marijuana industry to try to increase their profit, get them to be able to open stores in new places. So that’s certainly something we’re seeing and the risk is real. So for those of you who think legalization will never happen, it is definitely knocking on the door. And that’s why it’s so important.
What Happens With Legalization?
You know, my organization just sees it as being very important to educate the public on what happens when you legalize marijuana. You see more youth start using marijuana. You see these cookies, and candies and ice creams that are laced with marijuana. You see the potency.
You know, back in the day, like, and I say back in the day, loosely, just a couple of decades ago, marijuana potency was about 2-3% on average, that’s like the amount of THC that was in there. Now, we’re talking about 99% potency products, which are totally different drug, totally different product, and it’s so much more addictive than it’s ever been.
As much as you look at this, and you follow the states as well, what would be the pros and cons of the Fed stepping out and each state doing it their own way? I mean, we’ve already got a little bit of that, I guess with a patchwork across the country and the feds not really enforcing in some of these states that have legalized, what are your thoughts on that?
Yeah. Well, what it does is it creates and you’re right, a number of states, about 12, or 14 states now have chosen to go against federal law and legalize recreational marijuana in their state. But it remains illegal at the federal level. And for those states that do that, what it does is every state has different laws, what it’s really created is a massive illegal market. And that goes completely against what we were promised.
The Black Market
You know, I’m actually from Colorado, I live in Colorado, so I’m seeing legalization firsthand in the first state to ever do it. And we were told, you legalize marijuana and you get rid of the black market, Well, the black market has gotten much worse since we legalized it. And a lot of that is because of you have all these different laws, but it’s also because these cartels and drug dealers are able to just use the cover of illegal market to say, oh, you know, what I’m doing is totally legal, even though they’re not regulated, and they’re not abiding by state or federal laws.
So what you end up having with this conflict laws is obviously a lot of issues with regulation. But even if, you know, some people say, well, that’s a good excuse to legalize it at the federal level. Well, the issue still becomes the feds need to be able to regulate this. And you talk about regulations for, I don’t know, alcohol, tobacco, and opioids, where we literally lose combined about 300,000 to 400,000 Americans die a year from those drugs, opiates, tobacco, and alcohol. So we’re already losing a lot of lives from those things each year in this country. So the idea of kind of doing that, again with marijuana and adding a fourth drug to that mix is one that should give us all concern and cost for a pause.
So you actually end up with in the states where it’s legal, basically a safe haven for the cartels and everybody else to grow their business, no pun intended there, kind of punted in anyway, so they grow it they get it bigger, and then it’s easier for them to move into the states that have still kept it illegal, but now the black market in those states grows like crazy?
That’s right. That’s right. And interestingly, sadly, what we’re seeing is there are a lot of suburban neighborhoods just here around Denver, where the cartels will go in, and they’ll actually buy houses in the suburban neighborhoods. And they’ll get them, and they’ll turn them into grow houses, and they’ll grow about 200 or 300 marijuana plants in them, and then they’ll start selling them on black market.
So it’s really becoming a problem where you’ll literally have houses that are using tons of electricity. And that’s how law enforcement is able to kind of figure out who’s doing what, you know, because you’ll have a home that’s using just an enormous amount of electricity to grow all this illegal marijuana. And you have all these gangs, and you have foreign cartels, like from Mexico and China that do this.
And so it’s important to know, because we’re promised when you legalize this, that those gangs and cartels and the drug dealers, they’re all going to go away, and it’s going to be regulated shops that card people and make sure youths don’t get in there. None of that is occurring in states that have legalized marijuana.
So what you’re telling me is that the free loving hippies are not moving the cartels out of this business?
No, and not only that, and I’m glad you brought up the free loving hippies because that’s not what legalization is about anymore. You know, so many people when we voted on legalization in Colorado, everybody thought it was okay. Let’s just get people out of jail. You know, let’s get the hippies at it… You know, it’s just kind of hippies smoking joints and let them do their thing. It was not about that.
Enriching Silicon Valley
Legalization is about one thing and one thing only, and that is enriching Wall Street and Silicon Valley investors who are already very rich, because those are the guys who are invested in this industry. They’re pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into this industry. You’ve got the big tobacco players, I talked about. You’ve got big pharmaceutical executives.
I don’t know how many people have heard of Purdue Pharma. But the CEO who wrote the playbook for OxyContin is now in the marijuana industry as an executive. And then he got the alcohol industry that has bought up over $2 billion worth of the marijuana industry.
So it’s all the same players that we’ve seen before and they’re the ones who are reaping the benefits from legalization. Not the free loving hippies, as you mentioned that, so I’m glad you brought that up, Rick.
Well, listen, people can learn more, follow what you guys are doing learn what’s happening in their particular state, all of that at learnaboutsam.org, right, that’s still the right website?
Yeah, learnaboutsam.org. And we are looking to give the science the facts on marijuana, not any kind of hyperbole or reefer madness from yesterday years. We have a leading scientific advisory board of scientists from Harvard and Princeton, and Yale who are guiding our work. And so everything you’ll find on our website is from research and studies and you can use that in your communities.
Alright, learnaboutsam.org. Luke, thanks again, always good to have you, man. Appreciate your time today.
Hey, thank you so much, Rick, God bless you. And I appreciate everything you do.
Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man, the classes are boring, or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago, or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the “Quickstart Guide to the Constitution”, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s Constitution. You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now and wallbuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. And thanks, again, to Luke from learnaboutsam.org, again, the website, a lot of great information there. And you know, Tim, as you were saying earlier, I mean, it’s having that rational approach and even knowing what to say to somebody that ask those questions like you were thrown out at the opening of the program.
That’s one of the cool tools that they have on that website is literally videos about, okay, here’s how you respond to this. Here’s the data and the science behind the difference between marijuana and even alcohol.
Learning from Colorado
Well, and also even understanding how the conversation of marijuana has changed because of the different potency levels now. And where some states like Luke pointed out living in Colorado, where Colorado is now having all kinds of issues because there’s not the same level of regulations when it comes to potency levels.
And so you’re seeing a lot of hospital calls on a daily basis with people who are having adverse effects to what’s going on. And you know, it’s just interesting that that federally, marijuana is still banned.
And generally, if you are going to have any kind of drug or narcotic that becomes legalized on any level, there’s a lot of research, there’s a lot of investigation has done into it. What are the consequences? What are the side effects? What’s going on? That kind of stuff has not been done for marijuana on any great level.
So it would seem like even from a logical standpoint, if people were saying, hey, we should have marijuana, and we should have free access to this, well, then maybe we ought to at least do some more research to see what are going to be the consequences, what is going to be the result of if you have marijuana at this level potency for this many years. But we don’t do those kind of things.
And I know guys, even as we were on break we talked about there’s a lot more than just a philosophical discussion that should take place. Because you can talk about what is a constitutional perspective, what is a biblical perspective, because certainly, on WallBuilders Live, that’s a lot of what we try to focus on, what is the historical, the biblical, the constitutional perspective, and there certainly is guidance we can find from the Constitution and the Bible.
The Simple Premise of the Constitution
When you look at it from a constitutional standpoint, it’s not like the Constitution says, you can or can’t have marijuana. But what the Constitution does have is a very simple premise that George Washington put forth in his farewell address. He said, look, the whole basis of our politics, the whole base of our government, our Constitution, is a religious and a moral people.
And so when you look at the religious and moral aspect of this, this is where you can start using measurements and say, well, if you judge a tree by its fruits, this is not the right direction for the nation. This is not something that contributes to greater morality, greater faith. It goes exactly the opposite direction.
And even the Constitution has a connection to the common law which the Founding Fathers said that that was Christianity, the common law was built on Christianity. And so the Constitution very much was built on the premise we’re going to have a moral people and now we’re having conversation trying to redefine what morality is, well, no, this is totally moral to do this. Well, so morality being defined by the Bible. The Bible was very clear.
The reason drunkenness was a problem, when you look in the Garden of Eden, when you look at even Noah, what God told Adam, what God tells Noah as you are to rule over every living thing, but also over all plants, alright, all crops that are grown up. And one of the problems with drunkenness is now instead of you ruling over barley, barley is controlling you. Right? That substance is now ruling over you. Well, this is one of the arguments that can be made now.
When you’re talking about different levels of THC in the marijuana is when you are no longer able to be in your right mind and capacity. And this is not for medical purposes, right? We’re not talking about you have cancer and this is to help with a medical, right, whatever doctor prescribed procedure for cancer. No, no, we’re talking just for pleasure and enjoyment that you’re literally going outside of your right mind.
What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible tells us that we need to be in our right mind, that we need to be clear thinking, clarity in our understanding so that we can understand what is godly, what is righteous. And so even from a biblical perspective, like there was a reason drunkenness was not what the Bible promoted, that was against what God said to do. Even though and again, I understand the argument. People say, well, but you can have alcohol, just don’t be drunk. Okay. I understand that.
So maybe this is where again, we have an honest conversation of what is marijuana look like? What is the THC level? Where is it dangerous? And we can have some research and investigation and do that. But that’s not even where we are today. And it’s interesting that one of the things Luke pointed out is that there’s other nations even involved in this process.
Well, when you look at China promoting marijuana use in the United States, ask yourself, why would that happen? And let me give some insight on that. In China, marijuana usage, you will be executed. It is the death penalty for marijuana usage in China.
What Does China Want?
China only wants to support things that help the state of China. So they do not allow marijuana usage because that does not help their state. They kill for it if you use it because they think it’s that bad for the state, and yet they’re promoted it in the United States. So why in the world would China be supporting it?
And one other thing to point out is if Democrats are going to get this done, and as Luke pointed out, Pelosi has a bill on this, this is a leadership bill. It’s one of the low numbered bills in Congress, which means it’s high priority to federalize marijuana usage across the United States, they will not get that bill passed.
So what they’ll do is what they always do. They will wait and add it into a budget amendment. They will wait until the government’s going to shut down and we can’t afford to have the government shut down. So they’ll stick it in and get it passed, because it’s not going to pass on a stand up. Let me just give you a great example.
Let me just point to what happened with this COVID relief package. Because this is something highly sought after by the people, the people want to COVID relief package. What did Democrats put in the COVID relief package? Because they know it’s going to pass, because nobody can afford to vote against that because the people want it.
Well, it included 135 million for the National Endowment of the Arts, 200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, it includes 34 billion with the B to expand Obamacare, it includes 56 billion would a B to raise the minimum wage, it includes 86 billion in union pension bailouts, it includes 350 billion in blue state bailouts. That’s not COVID relief. No, but they could never get those bills passed individually if you had to vote up and down on them.
Legalizing Marijuana – With Luke Niforatos
So what they have done for the last 10 or so years, they don’t pass budget amendments, they wait until the government has to shut down or it’s a must pass bill like COVID relief and then they stick all this extra fluff in there to pay for stuff they won’t paid for. And that’s the way they’re going to get this marijuana bill done. It will not be a standalone bill.
They’ll wait till there’s some government shutdown crisis, and we have to keep the government running, and they’re going to put it in there that it’s going to federalize all the right to have marijuana anywhere, despite the fact that it has bad societal impact, and despite the fact other nations know that, and they’re promoted in America. So there’s a lot of stuff to be aware of here.
And you know, too many Americans, we’re just comfortable what we’re doing and we just don’t think people have bad intentions. And we got to realize that there’s a lot of stuff starting to come at us now that have downstream effects that we will not like downstream that it can have a huge adverse effect on the nation.
Alright, friends, we are out of time for today. Be sure to check out our website today wallbuilderslive.com. We appreciate you listening and hope you will become the catalyst for a restoration of biblical values and constitutional principles in your community. Part of how you do that is share these programs. So be sure and go to wallbuilderslive.com today, and share the links. That’s also the place where you can make that one-time or monthly contribution. We’d greatly appreciate that. We’re a listener-supported program. So when you support us, that allows more people to be able to listen, that’s how it works. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.