Pubdate: Tue, 01 Apr 2008
Source: Concord Monitor (NH)
Copyright: 2008 Monitor Publishing Company
Author: Ted Barnes
Note: Ted Barnes lives in Concord.
Bookmark: (House Bill 1623)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Marijuana Laws Beg For Cynical Response

The "wrong message" to send to any teenager, to any child, is 
hypocrisy. It turns them cynical and makes them disrespect the law, 
when trusted adults evade reality for the sake of political concerns.

The reality is that the inclusion of marijuana on the federal 
government's Schedule I list of controlled substances along with 
heroin and cocaine has always been a mistake. But the politicians' 
bogus "war on drugs" gets a boost from the illegality of marijuana. 
It is bulky, smelly and easy to detect. The "war on drugs" gets big 
results, big statistics, and therefore big budget and big media, from 
pot busts.

Marijuana is infinitely less harmful than all the other drugs, 
including legal alcohol. It has positive uses. It has the lowest 
profit margin in the underground economy. It is used recreationally 
by just about everybody at one time or another, without damaging results.

As a criminal defense lawyer for 27 years, I have dealt with 
thousands of people affected by drugs and alcohol. I have yet to find 
anyone who became physically addicted to marijuana, or who became 
aggressive and got into a fight after smoking it; or who burglarized 
a home or raped someone because the weed so affected their judgment. 
Mostly, people get mellow and hang out. At worst, they become 
unproductive. Danger, Will Robinson!

Teenagers do not know much and certainly a lot less than they think 
they do. But one thing they learn before they graduate from high 
school is that marijuana, aside from its illegality, is dramatically 
less harmful than alcohol. Yet in a few years, they can drink 
legally. Do you not see that disconnect? They do. The adults who are 
running things need to shake off their blinders and recognize that 
one of the two people next to them has used marijuana, maybe 
frequently, and nonetheless leads a productive life.

Those adults who use or have used marijuana need to muster the 
integrity to act on the reality they know, even if they cannot openly 
admit their use for fear of castigation by those who remain 
unyielding in their misperceptions.

I can imagine a state, a country, where a teenager admires the 
elected officials who discuss and debate issues intelligently, and 
without knee-jerk political posturing. That teenager respects the 
law, which leads to nothing but positive societal consequences 
because the law tracks with the reality he knows.

Billions of dollars could be taken out of the underground economy and 
made legitimate and subject to taxation. Thousands of drug police 
could focus on crimes where someone is actually victimized.

I have supported Gov. Lynch and probably will again. But his promise 
to veto this tiny bill (unless he does so in favor of more sweeping 
decriminalization) is a disservice to the people of this state. It is 
my hope that the members of the Senate approach the bill with 
confidence and grace.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom