Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jan 2011
Source: Kaleidoscope (U of Alabama at Birmingham, Edu)
Copyright: 2011 The Kaleidoscope
Author: Ron Crumpton
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Anyone who has ever read my column knows that I am an avid supporter 
of medical marijuana. Recently, I sent letters to several of our 
elected officials concerning Alabama Compassionate Care and the 
Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act, which would make marijuana 
legal in Alabama for medicinal purposes. Thus far, Senator Jeff 
Sessions was the only one to reply.

"While I understand the arguments that you and others have made in 
support of legalizing marijuana, I am still concerned that the 
legalization of the drug, or decriminalizing its use, would encourage 
today's youth to turn to more deadly substances such as heroin and 
cocaine," Senator Sessions said in his reply. "At a hearing of the 
Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, we listened to four 
teenagers, each of whom is recovering from heroin addiction. I was 
struck by the fact that the first drug each had used was marijuana. I 
believe our policies should deter people from using these substances, 
not encourage or endorse them."

Senator Sessions, it is time to get some new material.

First of all, let us just get this out in the open: teenagers are 
going to smoke marijuana whether it is legal or not.

Second, it does not surprise me that the first drug they tried was 
marijuana. I do not know if he includes alcohol or cigarettes as 
drugs, but I would find it odd if all four had tried marijuana before alcohol.

However, the Senator made no mention of how they progressed from one 
to the other. Did these four teenagers suddenly develop an 
uncontrollable urge to do heroin after smoking marijuana? If studies 
are correct, this is not the case.

In today's age of information, it is not hard to find a study on the 
internet that says what you want to hear, but report after report - 
including at least two sanctioned by the federal government - shows 
that it is not smoking marijuana, but acquiring marijuana that puts 
teenagers at risk of moving on to more dangerous and addictive substances.

The only true "gateway" between marijuana and hard drugs is drug dealers.

There are many pot dealers out there who do not sell to kids, who are 
just trying to make ends meet or help a brother out. Then there are 
drug dealers who use marijuana as a tool to get teens in the door and 
then try to get them addicted to harder drugs because they know that 
once addicted to heroin or meth, a teenager will lie, cheat, steal 
and recruit new users just to get a fix.

That is your gateway between marijuana and hard drug use. Do not get 
me wrong, I am not advocating selling marijuana to minors, but if 
they obtained marijuana through the same avenues that they obtain 
beer - stealing it from their parents or getting an older brother, 
sister or friend to buy it for them - they would not be put in the 
position of being pressured by drug dealers.

Third, let us tighten the discussion to the original topic: medical marijuana.

According to most studies, the second most abused drug by teenagers 
is prescription narcotics that they steal from their parents, 
grandparents and friends. Percocet, Valium, and many other 
medications fall into this category. An effective marijuana regiment 
can replace many of these drugs.

Therefore, if marijuana reduces the number of these narcotics 
available to children, it is all the better. Every one of these 
medications has deaths attributed to them every year, but the 
consumption of marijuana has never been proven to be a cause of death.

If my child is going to steal my medication, I would much rather they 
steal my marijuana than my Percocet because I know the consumption 
itself will not kill them.

Mr. Sessions, the people of this state need a senator with the vision 
to see the truth and serve the citizens of Alabama. We do not need 
someone who spouts the same party rhetoric that led Ronald Regan to 
proclaim, "I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana 
cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during 
an H-bomb blast."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom