Opinion: America needs marijuana bars
For building a national pub culture, pot is better than alcohol.
Blogger-pundit Matt Yglesias really wants more bars. First at Think Progress, then at Slate and now at Vox, the commentator has waged a one-man rhetorical war on the country’s urban liquor boards. The current licensing system, in which the number of bars is constrained by city bureaucrats rather than market demand, Yglesias has argued, leaves us with a paucity of public drinking spots where they’re wanted. From New York’s East Village to Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C., license limitations have caused bars to become rare, expensive, crowded and all around worse.
There’s just one problem with Yglesias’ more-bars plan: alcohol. America has a serious issue with responsible drinking, and increasing the number of sales locations probably won’t help. Alcohol abuse already kills tens of thousands of Americans annually and costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year in lost productivity, health care and property damage. It’s an especially big problem for college students and other young people; Jake New reported for Insider Higher Educationthat at least eight college freshman died in the first few weeks of school this year, most in alcohol-related accidents or overdoses. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen a fairly dramatic increase of alcohol-related hospitalizations in this age group,” George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health, told New. More bars would contribute to what’s already a public health crisis. Studies in Los Angeles and Cleveland suggest adding a bar is associated with about three additional violent crimes a year.
By Malcolm Harris
Photo credit: Nick Adams/Reuters