Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jan 2016
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2016 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Christopher Griffith
Note: Christopher Griffith lives in London.


In a recent op-ed piece, Frank Rapier, the director of the Appalachia 
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area based in London, made a few 
statements that I think a great deal of Kentucky residents should 
take issue with.

Rapier begins his column by claiming that the push for marijuana is 
propagated by corporations that make money off its sale.

I would say that is completely true; but to view that in a negative 
light is overtly hypocritical.

Both our state and federal governments are heavily influenced by 
special-interest monies. Rapier's job is to help aid the state in the 
government's war on drugs. A war that, in 2014, led to the arrest of 
seven times the number of people for possession of marijuana than for 
distribution or trafficking.

He argues, "Law enforcement is too busy to bother with casual marijuana users."

Yet, FBI statistics show that, in 2014, drug possession arrests made 
up 83.1 percent of all drug-related arrests, 39.7 percent of which 
were made for the possession of marijuana.

Arrests for possession of all other illicit drugs combined were just 
43.3 percent. This means that 700,990 people were arrested for 
marijuana out of the total 1,561,231 people arrested for all drug offenses.

The article states that "Big Marijuana" falsely claims our prisons 
are filled with those arrested on marijuana offenses. While the 
number is smaller than most advocacy groups claim them to be, the 
fact that ordinary citizens have an arrest record for marijuana 
possession is still a very real issue.

Just because a person may serve little to no jail time for a 
possession charge doesn't mean they escape unscathed. Everyday 
citizens in every city across the country have possession charges on 
their record, making it difficult for them to find employment and housing.

Rapier states the Food and Drug Administration should be researching 
and approving THC-based medicine. They are and they have.

Many states, including Kentucky, have some sort of THC-based 
treatment that has been approved by the FDA. To my knowledge, the 
only two locations you can receive these treatments are the 
University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

However, not all medical marijuana needs to be in pill form. 
Treatments for cancer and AIDS can leave patients weak from lack of 
appetite, and unable to keep any medicine down. Multiple medical 
studies have shown THC relieves pain and nausea and increases appetite.

It may not be a panacea, but I don't think anyone is claiming it to be.

Of course, the legalization of marijuana should be taken seriously; 
we should have many debates on the subject and draw up rigorous 
guidelines for those growing and selling the plant.

What we shouldn't do is use scare tactics to halt the conversation.

Big money funds pro-marijuana groups, big money funds anti-marijuana 
groups. Some people will make successful business from legalization. 
Many people currently make money with marijuana illegally. Rapier's 
office receives money for helping states wage war on drugs.

The day Rapier's op-ed was published, an announcement was made in 
Blount County, Tenn., that labeled the location as the newest high 
intensity drug trafficking area in Rapier's jurisdiction. This 
increases the financial support the regional office receives from the 

I'd like to argue that Rapier's office has just as much to gain with 
the continued enforcement of archaic marijuana laws as would "Big 
Marijuana" if legalization occurs.

Maybe it's time to try a new approach, not one of throwing money at a 
problem with unrealistic hopes of making it disappear, but one of 
making money to regulate it. Lawmakers can't seem to make a decision 
based on what is good for our state instead of basing the decision on 
their personal biases.

Maybe it's time to let the people decide. Maybe it's time for the 
Bluegrass to go green.

At issue: Jan. 15 commentary by Frank Rapier, "Don't fall for the 
lies from Big Marijuana"
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom