Pubdate: Thu, 24 Apr 2008
Source: Daily Aztec, The (San Diego State, CA Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Aztec
Author: Randolph Hencken


In the April 9 article "CACC wants bong sales to end," Lisa Silverman
of Mid-City Community Action Network asserted that shutting down head
shops would reduce youth drug use. She said, "By reducing the easy
access to drug paraphernalia we can help to eliminate drug use in the
young adult population." Her comment is reflective of an ideology that
is based on fallacious reasoning and serves to perpetuate failed
policies for dealing with illicit drug use.

It is clearly a nonsequitur to claim that banning the sale of bongs
will help to eliminate youth drug use. Take a look at Hawaii, where
the state has outlawed the sale of drug paraphernalia. According to
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2005 the national
average for past month youth drug use was about 10.3 percent, and it
was slightly higher than Hawaiian's 10.8 percent. There is not a valid
or significant correlation between the banning of paraphernalia and a
decline in youth drug use. It is also important to take into account
that medical marijuana is legal in the state of California. Voters
overwhelmingly passed Proposition 215, the law that allows anyone with
a doctor's recommendation the right to use marijuana. It seems
reasonable then to allow local businesses to sell items that can be
used legally by numerous San Diegans. We don't outlaw the sale of
flasks and beer bongs just because people under 21 are not allowed to
drink alcohol.

San Diego State student and College Area Community Council board
member, Daniel Osztreicher, suggested in the article that removing the
smoke shops would help curb illegal activity and clean up the image of
El Cajon Boulevard. This notion also has a major shortcoming - there
is much more property damage and violent crime as a result of
alcohol-induced behaviors than there are as a result of marijuana use.
The typical marijuana user is subdued and tries to avoid criminal
activity that would increase the likelihood of him or her having
contact with law enforcement. So why isn't CACC trying to shut down
all of the liquor stores, bars and grocery markets that sell alcohol
on El Cajon Boulevard?

I would like to remind Silverman, Osztreicher, CACC and readers of The
Daily Aztec that our nation is founded on the fundamental principals
of liberty. The laws that prohibit drug use by adults are in direct
opposition to our individual freedom. Last year, more than 800,000
Americans were arrested for possession - and we are supposed to be the
land of the free? What an adult does with his or her body ought not to
be a crime so long as he or she does not harm someone else. Shutting
down the smoke shops on El Cajon Boulevard is a bad policy, just like
drug prohibition is a failed policy.

Randolph Hencken

communication graduate student
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin