Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jun 2014
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2014 Austin American-Statesman
Note: Letters MUST be 150 words or less
Author: Calvina Fay
Note: Fay is the executive director of Drug Free America Foundation 
Inc. and Save Our Society From Drugs.

Two Views: Marijuana Legalization


Radical shifts in public policy are far-reaching and have everlasting 
effects that may not be foreseen. Marijuana legalization is an 
extreme measure of policy reform and a dangerous social experiment. 
Policies should be implemented with public health and safety in the 
forefront. However, marijuana legalization seems to only benefit 
those who stand to profit.

Following the legalization of marijuana, Colorado and Washington have 
seen increases in drugged driving and marijuana use. Colorado 
experienced an infestation of "drug tourism."

One student on spring break in Colorado ingested a marijuana-infused 
edible, exhibited bizarre behavior and then fell off his hotel 
balcony and died. In another incident, a man consumed a marijuana 
product, became psychotic and fatally shot his wife. Following these 
tragedies, many families told me they will vacation elsewhere so 
their children will not be exposed to the flagrant marijuana use and 
associated dangers.

The mindset that helps further legalization is rooted in the premise 
of inevitability and marijuana being a benign substance. Those who 
believe legalization is inevitable should not throw the baby out with 
the bath water, but rather take a stand. If you are a parent, this 
will affect your child's perception about the harms of marijuana and 
increase accessibility to the drug. If you are a business owner, this 
will affect your bottom line, impact employee safety, increase 
workplace accidents and absenteeism. This will raise your chances of 
being injured or killed by a drugged driver.

Marijuana is not a benign drug. Its THC potency (the stuff that gets 
you high) has increased tenfold and in edibles can be up to 90 
percent. It has been linked to mental illness and interferes with the 
cognitive development in adolescents.

According to research, persistent adolescent marijuana users could 
face up to an 8-point IQ drop. Marijuana has significant impacts on 
school scores, dropout rates, health care, and treatment costs. More 
young people are in treatment for marijuana use than any other drug.

As for the popular myth that legalizing marijuana will cut crime, 
it's just that - a myth. Legalization will make those younger than 21 
even more of a target and a potential illegal market for drug gangs 
and street pushers.

The Obama administration has explicitly stated: "It is therefore fair 
to suggest that decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana might not 
reduce the drug's burden to our justice and public health systems 
with respect to arrests, but might increase these costs by making the 
drug more readily available, leading to increase(d) use, and 
ultimately to more arrests for violations of laws controlling its 
manufacture, sale and use."

The push for marijuana legalization comes directly from the 
profiteers. Creating a big marijuana industry is the goal. Some say 
it will overshadow Big Tobacco. The pro-legalization lobby has been 
particularly candid about personal self-interest motivation. They 
entice the government and voters with promises of economic benefits.

But we must be smarter and learn from past experiences. We know that 
the annual state and federal tax revenue for alcohol is $14 billion - 
yet alcohol costs $185 billion in health care, treatments, lost 
productivity and criminal justice. Tobacco generates revenue of 
approximately $25 billion and costs over $200 billion.

Legalizing and normalizing marijuana will prove to be a public health 
and safety disaster.

Countries that have experimented with weak drug laws - the 
Netherlands and Great Britain, for example - have been trying to 
reverse course and repair the damage. Here in the United States, we 
must practice damage control and reject the legalization of marijuana.

We can't possibly know all of the costs of legalizing marijuana until 
it's too late, but of what we do know, these costs are dreadfully 
steep. Who will pay? Our children and society will pay. How so? We 
will become a weaker, more inferior society riddled with tragic loss, 
the scourge of addiction, moral decay and diminished entrepreneurial 
capacity. Will it happen overnight? No, it will occur over time. 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom