"Fox & Friends" Pundit Blames Legal Pot For Teen Drug Use, Homelessness

By Paul Gaita 10/23/18

Studies regarding marijuana's impact on social concerns do not appear to support all of Joe Peters' claims.

Joe Peters
Photo via YouTube

A guest on the popular Fox & Friends morning news and opinion program appeared to lay the blame for a host of social ills—from increased drug use among teens to emergency room visits and even homelessness—on marijuana legalization during a recent appearance.

Joe Peters, a former Pennsylvania police officer, federal prosecutor and White House Drug Czar official, suggested that efforts to legalize marijuana in the United States—like the recent legislation in Canada—would send numbers for the aforementioned issues, as well as impaired driving, to stratospheric levels.

However, as High Times reported, studies regarding marijuana's impact on these and other concerns did not appear to support all of Peters' claims.

Peters, who is a current Congressional candidate for Pennsylvania's 11th District, was a guest on an Oct. 19 broadcast of Fox & Friends which examined possible outcomes for marijuana legalization in the U.S. Co-host Steve Doocy put forward the question about whether such a move would be beneficial for the country, which prompted Peters to point to alleged troubles in the state of Colorado as evidence for the dangers of legalization.

"By every metric, it was a failure, in my view," said Peters. "Teen drug use is the highest in the country. Drug driving is off the charts, doubled with marijuana impaired driving. Homelessness is up. Emergency room admissions. And the black market is flourishing. Black market arrests—remember the whole notion was we legalize it, we can control it. Black market arrests are up almost 400%."

Some of Peters' assessments are, in part, correct. Federal and local law enforcement have both noted an increase in instances of trafficking in the Centennial State, but the majority of these cases involve the distribution of marijuana to other states like Florida and Texas, where legalization efforts have not taken root.

Trafficking on the local level has also continued due to dispensary prices—taxes, which range from municipality, can reach 23.15%—which local dealers can easily undercut.

Statistics have also shown an increase in Colorado traffic fatalities involving marijuana, but again, these results are conflicting: while the number of fatal vehicular accidents who tested positive for marijuana has risen from 75 in 2014 to 139 in 2017, the number of those fatalities in which the active THC level in the driver's system could be considered at the level of legal impairment dropped from 52 in 2016 to 35 in 2017. 

But as High Times pointed out, Peters' other allegations lack concrete evidence. Studies have shown that while cannabis consumption among teenagers inched up 1.3% between 2016 and 2017, the increase in marijuana dispensaries in states like Colorado has had no impact on teenagers' use.

Legal marijuana also appears to have had no effect on rates of homelessness in Colorado; a 2016 study of residents in the city of Pueblo, Colorado, found that disconnected utilities, not legal marijuana, was the leading cause of homelessness there.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.