Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate, claims Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s support for marijuana legalization is wrong. Allowing recreational use of cannabis is likely to increase Pennsylvania’s high unemployment rate. “There are not enough Pennsylvanians to work in Pennsylvania,” Oz said during a recent Newsmax interview, “so giving them pot so that they stay home is not, I don’t think, an ideal move….We need to get Pennsylvanians back at work, gotta give them their mojo, and I don’t want marijuana to be a hindrance to that.”
While awaiting results from a close primary, Oz is currently awaiting them. He has been a TV doctor for thirteen seasons, a fact which earned him the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. However, he is also an ex-cardiologist. You might think that Dr. Oz had consulted his medical knowledge when he said that cannabis use can cause a loss of “mojo”. He was actually repeating an anti-pot myth that has no scientific foundation, just like the many claims Oz made about cannabis on his syndicated talk shows.
It is not just commonsense to observe that cannabis’ acute effects are incompatible with working. The claim states that marijuana usage can have a permanent impact on people’s motivation, causing them to fail school and neglect their personal responsibilities. They also “stay home” instead of going to work. Oz raised the concern of “addictions to marijuana”, which he said made it clear that people are not able to earn a living from cannabis use, even moderately.
Dana Farnsworth (a Harvard psychiatrist) identified this problem when he testified before Congress in 1970. “I’m very concerned about the so-called ‘amotivational Syndrome’,” he stated. “I am certain as I can be…that when an individual becomes dependent upon marijuana…he becomes preoccupied with it. He adopts values he does not believe in and becomes obsessed with them. His attitudes change to the point that he is unable to choose wisely.
Robert DuPont (a psychiatrist who supervised the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1973-1978), told Peggy Mann about how “millions upon millions” of young people live as ghosts. They are empty shells of their true potential, and what it would be like to have lived without pot. Bill Bennett, in 1989, was appointed the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s director. He explained that smoking marijuana causes young people to not study. This causes what is known as “amotivational syndrome,” where people aren’t motivated to do their jobs.
Bennett and DuPont remained advocates of this notion for over a decade, frequently conflating marijuana dependency or heavy use with regular cannabis consumption. He published the book in 1997. Selfish Brain DuPont summarizes the impact of marijuana on people’s lives. DuPont says marijuana does not bring its users down like cocaine. He states that cannabis takes the victims’ lives in a more slow and cruel way than cocaine. “It robs many of them of their desire to grow and improve, often making heavy users settle for what is left over in life…. Marijuana makes its users lose their purpose and their will, as well as their memory and their motivation….[Cannabis consumers]As their marijuana smoking goes on, they often sink in performance and in their life goals. They literally see marijuana smoke as a way to raise their hopes and improve the quality of their lives.
Their 2015 book Moving to Pot: How America is Harming Marijuana LegalizationBennett, along with Robert A. White quotes that passage from DuPont’s book as part of his argument that cannabis is far more dangerous than people believe. Has anyone ever alleged that cannabis use is comparable to tobacco? These people ask. Many were disturbed by mass-produced cigarettes’ rise in popularity during the 20th century. They claimed that the products had caused similar problems. Those parallels suggest that responses to drug use have less to do with the inherent properties of the substance than with perennial fears that are projected onto the pharmacological menace of the day.
Although it has been a popular propaganda topic for a long time, scientists remain skeptical about the notion that smoking marijuana makes you unproductive. They published their book in 1997. Marijuana Myths, Marijuana FactsLynn Zimmer (sociologist) and John P. Morgan (pharmacologist), reviewed the evidence. Their conclusion was that “there is no data to suggest marijuana decreases people’s desire to work, reduces their employability or lowers their ability to earn wages.” According to studies, marijuana users are paid wages that are comparable or greater than the nonusers.
A 1999 report from the National Academy of Sciences noted that amotivational syndrome “is not a medical diagnosis, but it has been used to describe young people who drop out of social activities and show little interest in school, work, or other goal-directed activity. These symptoms are often caused by heavy marijuana consumption. However, there is no evidence to support a causal link between cannabis smoking and the behavioral traits.
His 2002 book Understanding MarijuanaMitch Earleywine (now a Professor of Psychology at State University of New York, Albany) summarizes evidence about amotivational symptoms as follows: “No studies demonstrate the pervasive euphoria and lethargy that were suggested to be present in heavy cannabis users.” There is no evidence to support a cannabis-induced, amotivational disorder.
An 2018 systematic review has been published in Psychology of Addictive BehaviorsResearchers found “cross-sectional evidence for a cannabis-specific affect on motivation is not conclusive,” but there is some support in longitudinal studies to suggest a causal relationship between marijuana use and lower motivation. In a 2022 study on college students Experimental and clinical psychopharmacologyThis cast doubt on the purported causal relationship. Researchers reported that preliminary evidence suggests college students using cannabis may be more inclined to try to get reward even after accounting for both the amount and likelihood of receiving it. These results don’t support the hypothesis of an amotivational system.
Oz has done fact-checking on Oz’s claims about marijuana legalization’s impact. NewsweekWe looked at the unemployment rates for April in those 18 states that permit recreational use. The average seasonally adjusted job rate was found to be around 4% in these states, which was slightly lower than the national rate at 3.6 percent. However, NewsweekThe unemployment rate for Pennsylvania where marijuana can be legally used for medicinal purposes, but not recreational, was 4.8%, which is “amongst the highest” in the nation. While “states such as California, New Mexico, and Nevada have higher than average rates of unemployment, many states in which marijuana has not been fully legalized experience above-average levels of unemployment, including Ohio, Louisiana and Maryland.
Although such simple comparisons don’t tell us much about Oz, they do provide some support to his hypothesis. This link seems to be inconsistent with earlier research that suggests legalizing recreational or medical marijuana is associated with greater GDP growth and/or employment. A 2021 Colorado study showed that recreational sale of state-licensed marijuana was associated with a 0.7% decrease in unemployment, but no impact on the size and composition of the workforce. The researchers found that there were no significant negative effects on the labor supply due to “the absence of a decrease in labor force participation and wages.” This is consistent with existing literature.
However NewsweekOz claims are “false”, a fairr evaluation would be “unproven.” As NewsweekOz notes that he “didn’t state what proof he claimed was based upon, nor is there any publically available data to support his claim.”
Oz’s primary has ended and he, should he win the Republican nomination for the Republican Party, will now need to expand his appeal. It seems that the wisdom of opposing legalization of marijuana is questionable. A 2021 Muhlenberg College survey found that only 25 percent of Pennsylvanians support Oz’s position. Only 58 per cent disagree. In national polls, support for legalization has been even greater. According to the latest Gallup poll, 68 percent, which includes 83 percent Democrats and 50 percent Republicans, believe marijuana should be legalized.