Pubdate: Sat, 07 Sep 2002
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2002 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Matt DeLong
Related: Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement
Bookmarks: (Nevadans for Responsible Law 
Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement


Janice Martz states in her Aug. 30 letter that since Nevada's
Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative will allow parents to use
marijuana in their own home, the result will be "babies, toddlers,
teens and anyone else in the same room who inhale the smoke from the
marijuana users' exhalations and burning joint can join Mom and Dad in
a legal high." This, she continues, will lead to a drop in the grades
of these children and an increase in "ear, throat, chest and, yes,
brain disorders."

Her argument has one fatal flaw. She assumes that all marijuana users
are irresponsible degenerates who care nothing for the well being and
health of their children. In fact, many, maybe even most, marijuana
users are responsible, upstanding citizens who use the drug in
precisely the same way that an alcohol user has a few drinks to unwind.

Most parents who use alcohol would not even consider getting sloshed
in front of their impressionable children. The same holds true for
marijuana, and parents who use responsibly do it out of the view of
their children. Of course there are exceptions, and those people who
would smoke pot in front of their kids are most likely doing it
whether it is legal or not. The fact of the matter is, every year in
the United States, more than 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana
offenses, most of them for simple possession. It is estimated that 20
to 40 million Americans use marijuana. Do all these people belong in
our overcrowded prisons?

The Nevada initiative that is going to be voted on in November would
decriminalize possession of up to three ounces of marijuana for people
over the age of 21, as well as set up state-run facilities for the
production and sale of marijuana and make provisions to set up a
discount program for medical patients. The state estimates that the
legal sale of marijuana could generate $200 million a year in revenue,
money that formerly would go directly into the pockets of large,
black-market syndicates that care nothing for the people who use the

It's time to end our nonsensical policy of blindly jailing people who
want to alter their consciousness and stop putting billions of dollars
into the pockets of criminal drug cartels. Let's start seriously
discussing how we can help those with substance-abuse problems, and
let people who do use marijuana responsibly do so without the fear of

Matt DeLong

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