Some anti-marijuana residents of Montana are upset over the rising number of homeless and panhandling people in their cities and they are pointing their fingers at legalized pot.
While it is true that many places in Montana are seeing a rise in numbers from recreational pot smokers seeking a safe place to indulge in one of their favorite past times, homelessness and panhandling are not isolated problems. Many places all over the country are seeing rises in their homeless numbers. Even in my small town of about 31,000 residents, there are panhandlers at every bridge and Walmart. The homeless “community” along the river grows every summer. Marijuana is still very much illegal here.
However, that doesn’t stop people in Montana speculating that if it weren’t for the legalization of pot, they wouldn’t see such a large number of suffering people on their streets. Matthew Marinseck, a resident of Durango, CO stated:
Legalized marijuana has drawn a lot of kids here from other states and the impact has not all been good. [The] city really started freaking out when they started seeing needles in the streets.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think needles are involved when using marijuana. I have known plenty of “potheads” in my day and not one of them has ever injected their green goodness.
Perhaps the growing number of homeless on Durango’s streets wouldn’t be so high if there wasn’t an unprecedented opioid epidemic in the country. Opioids, not pot. Based on surveys, about 25 percent of homeless people are homeless because of their addictions to opioids:
A survey by the United States Conference of Mayors found that 68 percent of cities reported that substance abuse was the largest cause of homelessness for single adults. Substance abuse was also reported as one of the top three causes of family homelessness by 12 percent of cities.
In another study, 25 percent of homeless people surveyed, identified drug use as the primary reason for homelessness.
The anti-marijuana crowd that blames legalized marijuana for the rise of homelessness is the very reason there remains a stigma surrounding the drug. If there were not benefits of the drug, it wouldn’t be approved in many states to treat a plethora of medical issues. Their energies would be better spent railing at the health care professionals who keep perpetuating our opioid epidemic. Perhaps, the naysayers could even take the time to talk to those on the streets to discern the actual causes of their homelessness.