Pubdate: Tue, 26 Apr 2016
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2016 The New York Times Company
Author: Deborah Peterson Small
Note: Deborah Peterson Small is executive director and founder of 
Break the Chains, Communities of Color and the War on Drugs. 
Previously, she was director of public policy for the Drug Policy Alliance.
Note: Fourth OPED in a group of four under the title, "Is Marijuana a 
Gateway Drug? Does using marijuana lead to the use of more dangerous 
drugs, making it too dangerous to legalize? "


The science on marijuana is settled.

The assertions that continue to be made linking marijuana use to
serious drug addiction by officials like Michele Leonhart, the former
administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, are contradicted
by facts.

But since the science is settled, the question we should be unpacking
is why do some people persist in promoting messages known to be false,
as was done by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey during his failed bid
for president?

Why are we still not discussing the evidence: that the real gateways
to addiction are poverty, trauma, mental health problems and the
effects of criminalization and stigma?

There are many who have economic and political interests in promoting
the myths that surround marijuana, none of which have to do with
public health or safety.

These myths about marijuana justify the use of law enforcement as the
principal method to control its use, which is why more than half of
all drug arrests annually are for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The myth justifies the use of drug testing of people applying for
public benefits or almost any job and the exclusion of otherwise
deserving people from needed public housing. The income generated for
the companies that create drug tests or that privatize prisons is
well-documented. Criminalizing people is a cash cow.

The majority of people who use marijuana (and most illicit drugs) do
so in nonproblematic ways. Legalizing it protects their ability to do
so without fear of punishment. And for those who develop a substance
dependency, marijuana regulation will generate revenue to support drug
treatment for those who need and want it.
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