Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jul 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Ann Croze
Note: Ann Croze lives in Northeast Portland.


The word "public" is defined in Webster's as "relating to or 
affecting all the people or the whole area of a nation or state." 
This definition needs to be understood by the marijuana users in our 
state and our neighbor to the north. In the past year, I have been 
exposed to marijuana smoke coming out of a Mariners game (try getting 
around that group to avoid it), a concert at the Sleep Country 
Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Washington, at Mt. Tabor Park on July 4 
and, on a few occasions, in the parks near my home.

I didn't vote for the legalization of this drug for recreational use. 
As in many cases of past legislation passing, give them an inch and 
they'll take a mile. Or in this case, give them a roach and they'll 
take a joint.

The law states that if you're 21, which many of the individuals I've 
seen were not, you are allowed to smoke in the privacy of your home. 
There is even a gray area about smoking it outside on your own 
property if it intrudes on your neighbor's livability. On two 
occasions, I have let the individuals know that the law states it is 
illegal to smoke in a public setting, as in the neighborhood park 
where I walk my dog. One young man responded, "That's why we are in a 
secluded part of the park." I don't believe that the bleachers of the 
softball field are a secluded area.

As a former middle and high school health teacher in Portland Public 
Schools, it breaks my heart the message this law has given to our 
youth. A student from Cleveland High School did a video project to 
document the use of marijuana among teens. It was eye-opening. The 
saddest part was in an interview with one of the health teachers at 
Cleveland. She said that there are times the kids come to class so 
high you can't even have a conversation with them. Aren't our schools 
a "public" place? Why are there not consequences? Doesn't the teacher 
have the right to teach and the students the right to learn in an 
environment created for learning?

There was a reason why they made the legal age 21. Even at that age, 
much of the new science shows a lack of full development of the 
brain. Youth have latched onto the idea that they are close enough to 
21, and it's legal - so why not use it? Why didn't I call the 
non-emergency police line to report it? Mainly because I know that 
our overworked police force was probably responding to a drive-by 
shooting in some area of our town and would not have had the time.

Legalization of recreational marijuana is another law that was passed 
before all the risks and benefits were weighed and will only get 
worse before it gets better, if it ever does. This is in part why I 
now teach elementary school, where a teacher can experience 
enthusiasm and love for learning from the students before the culture 
of our world takes that away from some of them.

The public needs to voice their opinion and stand up for their rights 
to have a drug-free public setting. I am not ready to give up my 
freedom to be outdoors and enjoy the beauty around me without having 
to breathe in pot smoke.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom