Pubdate: Tue, 01 Apr 2008
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2008 Burlington Free Press
Author: Debbie Ramsdell
Column: My Turn
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Youth)


I am so tired of hearing that we are sending "the wrong  message"
about marijuana to our youth. In my 68 years  of living I have learned
that often the "experts" are  in error and also that the public is
often way ahead of  its legislators. I think that is the case with

Case in point: Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie says "the bill  proposes to solve
a nonexistent problem" ("Marijuana  bill headed in wrong direction,"
Feb. 17). If it's not  a problem, then why are we discussing it? In
the Free  Press editorial on Feb. 17, the question was asked  about
why supporters don't "have the guts" to say they  want marijuana to
become a legal, recreational drug. At  the hearing in the Senate
Judiciary Committee on Jan.  30, State's Attorney Bobby Sand stated
that that  decriminalization is his goal. He does have the courage  to
say what he wants, but he is also smart enough to  know that movements
like this are done in small  incremental steps.

If you want to talk about honesty, please be honest  with our youth.
We tell them that marijuana is bad for  them, then they see their
friends using it or they try  it themselves, and they think what's
wrong with this --  my brain didn't get fried? So, then they think
heroin  and cocaine probably aren't as bad as they are said to  be and
they try them, and then they are in real trouble  because in those
cases we are telling them the truth.

Most people I know have tried marijuana and have either  outgrown
their use of it or use it on occasion in  moderation. Several years
ago I worked to help pass  medical marijuana amongst dire predictions
of how we  would be sending "the wrong message" to our youth. That
effort passed in the Senate and House and was expanded  upon last year
by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It  passed into law without the
governor's signature. In  that case, what would have been "the wrong
message?"  That we don't allow people who are suffering and/or  dying
the comfort of a drug that would make the process  easier and less
painful for them?

Education is the key in teaching our youth how to  respect and
understand marijuana, and education will  give them the tools to make
a wise decision about  whether to try it, use it, or not. If the
subject is  not out on the table, there can be no discussion and no

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Debbie Ramsdell lives in Charlotte.
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MAP posted-by: Steve Heath