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If you’ve taken a look around the United States lately, you’ve probably noticed how far and wide cannabis law reform measures have spread. Just 25 short years after California passed the country’s first medical marijuana law, full-scale recreational legalization is on the books in 14 states and Washington D.C. and some form of medical marijuana is allowed in 33 states. At this point, most Americans live in a place that allows some form of approved cannabis consumption.

Even in the face of that progress, there are still a number of high-ranking state and federal officials clinging tightly to the Reefer Madness myths of a bygone era. According to Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, weed doesn’t just zap productivity or serve as a gateway to hard narcotics – it is literally deadly.

“This is a dangerous drug that will impact our kids,” Ricketts, a Republican, said at a press conference last week. “If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids. That’s what the data shows from around the country.”

Of course, that is not at all what the data from around the country shows, and Ricketts’s assertion is factually inaccurate at every level. In fact, even the CDC and DEA both readily admit that there has never been a fatal marijuana overdose on record.

“No deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported,” an official DEA document reads.

But for prohibitionists like Gov. Ricketts, the facts will never get in the way of a good scare tactic. When asked to clarify his outlandish statement about dead children, Gov. Ricketts’s office pointed to two unrelated cases of young men committing suicide after consuming cannabis products in the days and weeks leading up to the incidents. Considering the number of cannabis users smoking, eating, and vaping both legal and illegal weed around the nation, those stories, while tragic, do not point to larger concerns about marijuana’s safety.

Later in his speech, Gov. Ricketts doubled down on his unsubstantiated assertions and spoke as if cannabis was a mystical drug and not a plant that has been used for centuries and continues to be consumed by millions of people every year.

“It is dangerous to go around the established process we have to determine whether or not drugs are safe and effective and why legalizing marijuana and going around the regulatory process to keep people safe is dangerous and going to harm our kids,” the governor claimed.

Ricketts made his outlandish statement in response to a legislative proposal submitted by Nebraska Democratic State Senator Anna Wishart that would legalize medical marijuana for qualified patients. Making the Governor look even more ridiculous, the proposed Nebraska MMJ law would only allow patients to consume cannabis pills, oils, and tinctures, restricting marijuana smoking and edibles entirely.

“There are few things in this world that won’t kill you if you do or take too much. The cannabis plant is one of those. Facts matter,” Wishart wrote on Twitter in response to the Governor’s statement.

Outside of Nebraska, other staunch prohibitionist state officials are also digging their heels in as hard as possible in a response to legalization calls. In Idaho, a constitutional amendment that would ban the state from ever legalizing marijuana passed in the State Senate last month. In arguments supporting the amendment, Republican lawmakers have used the same unfounded talking points about defending children and public safety that Gov. Ricketts espoused.

“Senators, we have a duty to protect our children, our families, our communities from the scourge of drugs and the drug culture which we have seen go clear across this nation,” Republican Sen. Scott Grow, the sponsor of the legislation, said on the State House floor earlier this year.

On a larger scale, the United States will soon find itself in a similar head-in-the-sand position when it comes to cannabis law comparisons with neighboring countries. Canada legalized weed in 2018 and has since constructed a nationwide pot industry complete with online sales and heaps of tax money. This year, Mexico is set to pass its own legalization initiative, a move that would leave the US as North America’s last remaining country to keep pot outlawed.

“Assuming it is approved and implemented, as it appears it will be, Mexico’s legalization will apply significant pressure on the United States to continue its move towards ending its own prohibition,” Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, the largest U.S. advocacy group for marijuana legalization, told ABC News.

Still, no matter how much international pressure comes down on the Biden administration, the new president has been steadfast in his own opposition to marijuana legalization in favor of a decriminalization replacement. And while Biden’s anti-legalization politics do not rely on the same Reefer Madness boogie men that Gov. Ricketts and some Idaho legislators have touted, the President has largely ignored marijuana’s omnipresence in American society and years of studies showing the plant’s medical benefits and overall safety.

American legal policy and social attitudes towards cannabis have made massive strides in the past few decades, but as some states are busy counting tax money and jobs added, it is important to recognize that there is still plenty of work to be done at both the local and federal level.