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Could upping price of cigars in Maryland decrease marijuana use?

Despite the fight within Maryland to legalize medical marijuana (and some marijuana advocates' intentions to legalize the drug entirely), marijuana remains an illegal substance in the state as well as according to federal law. State lawmakers suggest that a tax hike on tobacco cigars might help decrease teen use of marijuana in Maryland.

It is sort of a strange connection to make. Why would making cigars more expensive have any effect on whether teens use marijuana? Not everyone is familiar with the different methods of using marijuana, but one method is to smoke what are called "blunts," which are basically cigars that users fill with a mixture of tobacco and marijuana to smoke.

Advocates for raising taxes on tobacco cigars think higher cigar prices will turn teens off from buying them in order to make and smoke blunts. The logic stems from research that suggests increasing taxes on cigarettes has led to fewer teens that smoke them.

A representative from the Marijuana Policy Project addresses that there is a lack of research telling us how teens prefer to ingest marijuana. Therefore, guessing that a tax hike on cigars would make a significant dent in teens' use of marijuana in Maryland is an uneducated leap.

Debate surrounding marijuana in Maryland and throughout this country is continuous. On one side, there are those who are so strongly opposed to legalizing the drug out of fear that addiction will spread and teens' health in particular will suffer. But then there are the equally passionate arguments that pot helps sick people and is no more dangerous than substances such as tobacco or alcohol.

Talk regarding this proposed tax hike, therefore, isn't quite as exciting as other chatter surrounding marijuana use. But it is a local matter fueled by lawmakers who are part of the fight to criminalize marijuana use.

Source: Capitol News Service, "Could Increasing the Cost of Cheap Cigars Reduce Teenage Marijuana Use?" Mike Bock, April 8, 2012

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