Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 2016
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2016 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Frank Rapier
Note: Frank Rapier is director of the Appalachia High Intensity Drug 
Trafficking Area, based in London.


Big Business, Not Public Safety, Is the Goal

In Colorado, Teen Pot Use Has Increased

Only a Fraction of Prisoners Convicted for Possession

In response to the column, "Stop waste of money, lives in 
criminalizing pot," let me say that I agree with Sen. Perry B. Clark 
on one point: America is being bamboozled.

We are being bamboozled by Big Marijuana.

For several years now, we have witnessed a highly financed, deceptive 
campaign to legalize marijuana. It started with the premise that 
marijuana is medicine. Marijuana may contain medical components, but 
so does opium. We don't smoke opium to get the pain-killing effects 
of morphine. How could you dose smoked marijuana?

While it is entirely possible that the marijuana plant does contain 
elements that would be useful in treating specific disorders, there 
needs to be research and a process of approval like all potentially 
helpful medicines. The Food and Drug Administration performs this 
procedure daily. Let's give that a shot before we can get serious 
about marijuana as medicine.

Big Marijuana has lied for years in stating that the prisons are 
filled with people arrested for possession of small amounts of 
marijuana. Nothing could be further from the truth.

With the current opiate addiction crisis in Kentucky and other 
states, law enforcement is too busy to bother with casual marijuana 
users. A survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that 0.7 
percent of all state inmates were behind bars for marijuana 
possession only (with many pleading down from more serious crimes).

In total, one-tenth of one percent (0.1 percent) of all state 
prisoners in the U.S. were marijuana-possession offenders with no 
prior sentences, according to a 1999 report from the Bureau of 
Justice Statistics.

Colorado's passage of a responsible adult marijuana-use law has also 
resulted in other issues.

A report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area 
compared studies of the two-year average of marijuana use during full 
legalization (2013-14) to the two-year average just prior to 
legalization (2011-12).

The latest results show Colorado youth, aged 12 to 17 years old, 
ranked No. 1 in the nation for past month marijuana use, up from No. 
4. Their usage was 74 percent higher than the national average. 
College-aged adults, 18 to 25, increased 17 percent. This was 62 
percent higher than the national average.

Legalization is about one thing and one thing only: Making a small 
number of business people very rich. There is indeed some bamboozling 
going on. Kentuckians shouldn't fall for legalizing marijuana.

At issue: Dec. 15 commentary by state Sen. Perry B. Clark, "Stop 
waste of money, lives in criminalizing pot"
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom