Pubdate: Sat, 31 Jul 2010
Source: Brattleboro Reformer (VT)
Copyright: 2010 Brattleboro Publishing Co.
Author: Daryl Pillsbury
Note: Daryl Pillsbury, Vidda Crochetta and Paul Bennett are on the board of
directors for Marijuana Resolve. Dan Riffle is on the board of
advisors for Marijuana Resolve.


Of all of the claims in print about marijuana, this is the most
revealing, yet the most ignored quote of all: "Marijuana, in its
natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances
known to man." -- administrative law, Judge Francis L. Young (1988),
Drug Enforcement Administration.

I envy the day when we can say with certitude that freedom, though
inconvenient to the powers that be, has found its way into the hearts
and minds of our fellow Americans. That day is not now. Instead, we
live under an entrenched and tyrannical coalition of prevention,
prohibition, incarceration and probation that continues to dominate
U.S. drug policy despite the fact that the majority of marijuana
consumers are moderate and responsible adults.

We need to recognize that a person is either an adult or they're not.
Once society empowers adults, whether young or old, to be responsible
for their own actions, no group or authority has the right to prohibit
their intrinsic pursuit of commerce and happiness that is not
injurious to others. At any adult age, we need close-at-hand, unbiased
and accurate information to help inform our choices.

If we propose a particular area of greatest harm to Americans and
identify it as our current prison population, what can we say about a
prohibited drug that helps to fill up those prisons?

First, let's look at what's harmful about marijuana prohibition. A
staggering portion of Vermont's and national tax revenues, more than
we spend on schools, goes toward maintaining our expanding prison
population and related costs. Dan Riffle, a Legislative Analyst with
the Marijuana Policy Project ( reports that "Last year
there were over 870,000 U.S. marijuana related arrests or, one every
36 seconds, nearly 90 percent of which were for simple possession." It
stands to reason that the majority of the aforementioned 870,000
marijuana prisoners cannot be all that bad. Yet, many of these
otherwise law-abiding Americans, now burdened with criminal records,
will be denied jobs, student financial aid or possibly housing.

Only coldhearted people could believe that this many Americans are
heinous criminals deserving of cruel and unusual dispossession. The
gigantic numbers are indicative of a system gone-bad. In Vermont alone
50-60 percent of all arrests are for nonviolent marijuana consumers,
with no-sale offenses.

In April of this year, people in the Brattleboro community formed an
association that became Marijuana Resolve, a Vermont nonprofit
organization. Our members have opened a new dialogue about marijuana
that has been too long kept in a dark corner on the table of public
discussion. In our community outreach we have found (anecdotally) that
when asking the person on the street about decriminalizing marijuana,
so many of them replied, "I don't use marijuana, but why
decriminalize? We should just legalize it." In our four months of
public outreach for decriminalization we expected a handful of people
to say that. But not well over a hundred people.

Can we say anything good about a drug that drives so much
prosecutorial madness? All of this marijuana bashing makes us yearn to
show others what's on the other side of the fence.

Here's a glimpse: It has long been known, as reported by the Vermont
Drug Threat Assessment, that marijuana is the most commonly used drug
in Vermont and it "constitutes a lower threat" because marijuana
effects are "less debilitating and not commonly associated with
violent crime." A Johns Hopkins study in 1999 reported that there is
"no significant differences in cognitive decline between heavy
(marijuana) users, light users and non-users."

Additionally, the Washington Post reported on the largest marijuana
case-control study ever done, funded by NIDA, that "While no
association between marijuana smoking and cancer was found, the study
findings, presented to the American Thoracic Society International
Conference did find a 20-fold increase in lung cancer among people who
smoked two or more packs of cigarettes a day."

Moreover, Mitchell Earleywine, Professor of Psychology, State
University of New York at Albany, reports that "Multiple ingredients
in the (marijuana) plant have helped battle tumor growth in the

Louis Armstrong, who had a "lifelong fondness" for marijuana, once
said, "There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell

Marijuana Resolve would like to tell them anyway. One way, is by our
sponsorship of a free and open community meeting to be held at UVM on
Aug. 10. We also have more community events planned for Windham
County. You can write to the signers below at  call 802-579-1377 for more information.

Daryl Pillsbury, Vidda Crochetta and Paul Bennett are on the board of
directors for Marijuana Resolve. Dan Riffle is on the board of
advisors for Marijuana Resolve. 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D