Pubdate: Sun, 19 Jun 2016
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Jeff Meyers
Note: Jeff Meyers, of Westlake Village, is a former L.A. Times staff 
writer and producer of the documentary "Emperor of Hemp."


Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney, who is also president of the 
California Police Chiefs Association, has come out swinging against 
marijuana legalization in order to save our citizens from the evil 
weed. Especially the children.

But let's be real for once: Maintaining marijuana prohibition and the 
status quo not only doesn't protect our children, it does the opposite.

The unregulated black market puts children at grave risk every day 
from drug dealers who don't verify age, don't care about regulations 
on potency and purity, and don't have any scruples about offering 
kids various assortments of far more dangerous drugs than weed, such 
as cocaine and heroin.

Last month, Chief Corney said legalization "will have a significant 
negative effect on the quality of life for communities across 
California." According to the chief, the sky was already falling in 
Colorado, where a 2012 voter-approved ballot initiative made it the 
first state to legalize marijuana. Although the chief correctly 
pointed out that emergency room admissions for pot doubled from 2012 
through 2013, his information is old history now.

Although marijuana was technically legal to sell and consume in 
Colorado in 2012, it took the state government two years to devise 
new laws and strict regulations and get a system up and running. 
Those two unregulated years were marred by problems until 2014 when - 
cue the trumpets - the rules and regulations finally went into effect.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, owner of a brewery, was initially 
opposed to legalization and said if he "could wave a magic wand" he 
would reverse the vote. But he has since changed his mind. Not only 
because of hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue, but 
because the new system is working beyond expectations.

In a May 17 article, the L.A. Times wrote: "None of Hickenlooper's 
worst fears were realized .... marijuana consumption has not changed 
much from pre-legalization levels, and there has been no significant 
increase in public health and safety problems."

In the same article, a Hickenlooper spokesman said, "In the 
beginning, we had problems with edibles and hash oil fires but now, 
for the most part, Colorado looks a lot like it did before 
legalization." Maybe even better.

 From the Times' story: "Colorado is booming. The state has a 4.2 
percent unemployment rate, one of the best in the country. High-tech 
companies are moving in. Small towns across the state, some once 
teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, have been saved by tax revenues 
from pot dispensaries. And the $1-billion-a-year cannabis business 
will pump $100 million in taxes into state coffers this year."

Many substances we ingest have risks. Peanut butter can kill and so 
can the pills in your medicine cabinet: Government-approved 
prescription drugs kill 100,000 Americans a year, but nobody refers 
to pharmacists as drug dealers or Big Pharma as a cartel.

And then there is America's favorite legal drug, alcohol. Besides 
liver disease, broken homes, assault and daily carnage on the roads 
caused by alcohol, there are some 80,000 deaths attributable to 
excessive use every year in the United States.

Let this fact sink in: In recorded history, cannabis has never caused 
a single overdose. None. In a 1988 ruling favoring medical marijuana, 
DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young wrote, "Cannabis is the 
safest therapeutic substance known to man ... safer than most foods."

Please rely on facts and common sense in November and vote yes to 
legalize cannabis. Let's protect the kids with a well-regulated 
market and age restrictions ... and stop arresting and fining adults 
(most of them minorities) for using a drug far less dangerous than alcohol.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom