Pubdate: Thu, 25 Nov 2010
Source: San Bernardino Sun (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Rodney G. Jones
Note: Rodney G. Jones is chief of police in Fontana.


On Nov. 2, Inland Empire voters sent a very strong message to those
who support the recreational use of marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana endangers our children, our roads, and our
financial stability. The proponents have vowed to bring this back
again and again until they get what they want. I encourage our
electorate to stay informed and continue the message they just sent
them - not here, not now, not ever.

Proposition 19 would have legalized possession of less than one ounce
of marijuana for anyone 21 years old or older. It would have allowed
the same people to cultivate up to 25 square feet of marijuana. The
state election results show it was rejected by nearly a 10 percent
margin; 54 percent to 46 percent. However, the voters in the Inland
Empire were more determined to reject this proposition. San Bernardino
County rejected Proposition 19 59 percent to 41 percent and Riverside
County rejected it 58 percent to 42 percent.

Legalizing marijuana is dangerous to our children. If you increase
availability and societal acceptance, you will see an increase in
usage by our children. In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court
decriminalized the possession and use of marijuana within the privacy
of one's home. In 1990, the people of Alaska voted to recriminalize
it. At that time usage by children in the 12-17 year range was 51 percent.

Marijuana is a gateway drug. People who experiment with it will
frequently go on to other drugs. It is estimated that the risk of
using cocaine is 104 times higher for people who have tried marijuana
compared to those who have not. Using marijuana lowers inhibitions and
exposes our children to a culture that encourages marijuana use and
experimentation with other drugs.

Don't be fooled by false information about the benign effects of

Marijuana is a dangerous drug. It damages portions of the brain,
especially in our youth. When smoked, it is bad on the respiratory
system, leaving four times as much tar on the lungs compared to a
filtered cigarette. It is bad for the heart. Marijuana increases your
heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. This deadly combination
makes it five times more likely you will suffer a heart attack.

Marijuana is already causing an increase in traffic fatalities.
Legalizing it would make things worse. Marijuana causes reduced
coordination, distorts a sense of distance, causes hallucinations,
panic, and depression.

Proposition 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act was passed January
2004. In the five years leading up to the passage there were 631
traffic fatalities where the driver was under the influence of
marijuana. In the five years after Proposition 420 was passed, there
were 1,240 of these fatalities. If medical marijuana doubled traffic
fatalities for drivers under the influence of marijuana, wholesale
legalization of marijuana would increase the number of innocent lives
lost exponentially.

The argument that legalization would create a revenue stream for our
state and local governments is without merit. Just a few months ago
the Rand Corp. studied this very issue and determined that any
potential financial benefit would be offset by the societal costs of

Alcohol is taxed and it generates about $9 billion in federal revenue
and about $5.5 billion to the states. The loss to our country is
roughly $185 billion because of the burden it places on health care
and the criminal justice system. The same can be said for tobacco;
raising about $25 billion in collected taxes, while costing our
country about $200 billion annually.

We just celebrated Red Ribbon Week in our schools. During this time we
encourage our children to "just say no" to drugs. We, as parents and
guardians, need to do our part. We sent a very strong message about
marijuana legalization in this last election - not here, not now, not

We need to make sure our representatives in Sacramento understand our
position. Legalization of marijuana is dangerous for our children, our
highways, and our economy. Just say no!
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake