Pubdate: Mon, 11 Aug 2014
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2014 Florida Today
Author: Marshall Frank


I'm a 30-year retired cop. I'm also the father of a lifelong drug

I've witnessed the bane of the drug world on the inside and the
outside, from a professional standpoint, as well as a personal one.

On its merit, I support Amendment 2, concerning the legalization of
medical marijuana, on the November ballot. There are worthwhile uses
for people with symptoms of nausea, glaucoma, seizure disorders and
more. But we cannot be dismissive. There's much more to the issue of
using marijuana for medical reasons, or debating the pros and cons of
pot in general.

If and when the amendment is approved, it would be naive to believe
that all marijuana use will be confined to health issues. Profiteers
and users will exploit the new relaxations, which will transgress into
abuse for purposes other than relieving pain and nausea. That's a
guarantee. I suspect it will open the floodgates for marijuana highs
in the name of health care.

Yet, there are two reasons to support Amendment 2:

* It will alleviate suffering for many health-related symptoms

* It will alleviate court dockets and prison populations, thus saving
hundred and thousands of non-dangerous people from being tagged for
life with criminal records.

That doesn't mean marijuana is not dangerous. Alcohol is dangerous,
cigarettes are dangerous and the negligent use of prescription
medicine is dangerous. Don't believe anyone who tells you marijuana is
not dangerous. It is.

The greatest danger is infesting drugs within the youth population.
Teenagers are using illegal pot more than cigarettes. Here's why:

* Pot is glamorized in the entertainment industry, cigarettes are not.
In modern cinema, it is common to see actors toke up on screen (not
cigarettes). It's even more common to see role models such as Miley
Cyrus and Justin Bieber defy the law and encourage marijuana use among

* In today's world, adult users negligently sanction marijuana as a
cool, harmless activity, giving teens the OK. That includes young
parents who openly smoke dope around kids as though there was no harm.

Kids are where the dangers lie, because marijuana is absolutely a
gateway drug for teens younger than 18. I know. My son was only 12
when his divorced mom - a regular user - handed him a joint, saying
"Go ahead, try it. Don't do it behind my back."

The boy was a model student. Was. From there, it led to stealing his
mother's stash and selling it in school. He became a popular kid
overnight. By the time he reached his late teens, it was time for
something better, stronger, more cool. He had become immersed in the
drug culture. During his early adult life, no drug was taboo. He did
it all. Meanwhile, his life passed him by. It's a tragic story that
all began with a liberal-minded mom who provided the seed for future

Yes, his father was around, in and out playing tough love and soft
love, struggling to make a difference, but that was nearly impossible
when someone is hellbent on running away all the time.

So, is marijuana a gateway drug? It depends. Not all people who use
marijuana will move onto harder drugs. But nearly all people who have
used heroin, cocaine and meth used marijuana first. Adults who begin
smoking pot in their late 20s and 30s might not use harder drugs. But
kids are different. It is a major risk.

While enacting medical marijuana laws, Florida authorities must
simultaneously embark upon a prevention campaign that targets the
young with fact-based education announcements - similar to
anti-cigarette ads - about the downsides of using pot, and there are
plenty. Science has concluded that pot smoking among teens has a
negative impact on brain function. It affects IQ. It diminishes
ambition. Driving high on pot is dangerous, the same as alcohol,
though less detectable.

Meanwhile, we should rebuke Hollywood and the irresponsible music
industry for their roles in glamorizing drug use. It is critical that
we protect kids from dangerous enticements. We must make a difference.

That's our job.
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