Pubdate: Tue, 02 Sep 2014
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2014 Swift Communications
Author: John Redfern
Note: John Redfern is a 10 year resident of Incline Village. He is 
married and has adult children ages 35, 33 and 28 years old as well 
as twin 13-year-olds.


My neighbor and friend Andy Whyman wrote a guest column in the Aug. 
15 Sierra Sun and Aug. 24 Bonanza stating his case for legalizing 
pot. Hopefully after he reads this we will still be friends. But Andy 
is just plain wrong on this issue and here is why.

His opening paragraph states that "the criminalization of marijuana 
is a war on citizens, particularly citizens of color." So by that 
reasoning we should legalize killing in the inner city neighborhoods 
for the same reason. Or maybe make mass murder legal because it is a 
war on white people.

He further defends his position by stating that by comparison to 
marijuana, other hard drugs, alcohol and cigarettes are more 
addicting than marijuana. Both of these arguments are ridiculous and 
irrelevant. In fact he states that only 9 percent of marijuana users 
develop any degree of dependency, like that is an insignificant number.

Andy jumps on the New York Times bandwagon of pushing for 
legalization like it is divine direction from one of the Gospels of 
the Bible. That carries about as much weight to non-liberal people as 
a push for outlawing abortion would be to liberal people coming from 
Fox News. The opinions of both news outlets are sincere but are not a 
reason to agree with the position they take in and of itself.

What is relevant to this argument is the 30 years of data that has 
been gathered that shows the harmful effects of this drug, especially 
on our youth. As well as some common-sense thinking about the 
unintended consequences that legalizing pot would have on our 
children and on our society.

In her letter to the editor in the Aug. 21 Bonanza that opposes 
legalization, Debbie Larson cites studies from the Northwest School 
of Medicine showing the adverse effects of pot use on the brain. I 
have found similar data confirming this in numerous studies by such 
esteemed publications as Journal of the American Medical Association, 
National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Institute on Drug Abuse 
and the New England Journal of Medicine among others.

In fact, in an April 2014 publication a study in the Journal of 
Neuroscience documented that there is a much higher incidence of 
mental illness and adverse brain development especially in the 
working memory. What was astounding and concerning is that these 
adverse effects are being suffered by people defined as "casual 
users" - defined as once per week.

In addition to the scientific reasons found in the above studies, 
there are two more immediate health and safety issues that will 
become apparent immediately the day that pot is legalized. First is 
that there will now be even more opportunities for our kids to obtain 
the pot illegally. It would be naive to think that someone making $10 
an hour selling pot legally out the front door of a "legitimate" pot 
distribution outlet wouldn't also be selling it illegally on the side 
to our kids. See "California medicinal outlets" if my forecast seems 

The argument from the legalize pot side is that there are already 
plenty of opportunities for our kids to get it illegally. So what? 
Let's not make it even easier.

Second is that you will immediately have a lot more impaired drivers 
on the road. In a compilation of nine individual studies published by 
the British Medical Journal, it was found that there were twice as 
many traffic accidents that involved people under the influence of 
marijuana than by those who were unimpaired. Again the pro pot people 
will claim that there is already a problem with alcohol-impaired drivers.

While again a "so what" answer is appropriate, there is a big 
difference that needs to be considered. Your typical drinking driver 
is not a threat at all hours because they are not usually drinking at 
all hours of the day. Your typical pot user will in fact take a 
couple of hits in the morning, again at lunch and then again for the 
ride home from work. And remember that while it normally takes 
several beers or drinks consumed over at least an hour or two for the 
typical drinker to become impaired, it only takes one or two hits off 
of a joint in a matter of seconds to make a pot user impaired.

While stating the above, I realize I probably offended the many 
mature pot users who do so responsibly in the safety of their own 
home. I would even consider the argument that we should decriminalize 
pot use by mature adults over a specific age. But here's the rub. I 
believe the majority of people who would vote to legalize pot aren't 
mature adults with kids. They are the 18- to 25-year-old crowd or 
some empty nesters that don't have younger kids.

If this comes to a vote in your state please vote no. Are you willing 
to risk your son or daughter's future? I'm not.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom