Pubdate: Sun, 27 Mar 2016
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2016 The Tribune Co.
Author: Thomas Winterstein


I read the editorial in The Tampa Tribune on Feb. 20 concerning 
"Sanctioning drug use in Tampa" and was pleased to see that you are 
skeptical about the ordinance, which Mayor Bob Buckhorn signed into 
law last week. You have every reason to be skeptical. You should be 
more than skeptical.

Those people who want to legalize marijuana are not informed of the 
harm caused to individuals from its use, especially to the brains of 
young people. I also believe that people are not aware of the 
difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

As an example, I was against medical marijuana before I was for it. 
When I did the research on the topic, I changed my mind. There is a 
big difference between the two. The reason I did the research is that 
I do seminars on alcohol and drug user identification programs and 
driver education programs, and have done so for the past 40 years.

There are two things that people who do drugs want. They want to feel 
good, and they do not want to get caught. I think that just the mere 
fact that marijuana and other drugs are illegal keeps some people 
from trying them. I also believe that if the penalty for possession 
is reduced, people who have never tried marijuana will change their 
minds and do so.

Two effects that marijuana has on users are that it interferes with a 
person's ability to pay attention, and they tend to fixate on 
objects. When a person is driving, do you have to pay attention? If 
that person fixates on an object for any length of time, it will be 
like texting, and we all know the issues with that.

Marijuana users also have problems with divided attention tasks. 
Having been a certified drug recognition expert, I have conducted 
field sobriety tests, which include divided attention tests, on 
individuals under the influence of marijuana. Driving a vehicle 
definitely involves divided attention tasks.

Under ideal conditions, a vehicle traveling at 70 mph will require a 
minimum of about 338 feet total braking distance to stop. (Source vehicle stopping distance and time.)

The reason they gave for the change in the amount of marijuana 
possession in Tampa was to keep individuals from having a criminal 
record. What kind of record will they have should they be charged 
with driving under the influence of drugs and/or become involved in a 
serious personal injury or fatal accident?

I just hope the city council members who voted for reducing the 
charge will do the proper research the next time there is an issue 
concerning marijuana.

Thomas Winterstein

Sun City Center
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