Pubdate: Wed, 06 Jul 2016
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2016 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Mark Davis


Mark Davis: Those Pushing for This Don't Know What It Does to Neighborhoods

Looks like this is my year for congratulating the Dallas City 
Council, although I do not pretend that the horseshoe is bending 
toward my worldview.

First they found a way to reject the absurdity that there was a First 
Amendment obligation to host a porn convention on city property. Now, 
at least for the moment, they are resisting widespread urgings to 
loosen marijuana laws.

As some state-level experiments plod forward with outright pot 
legalization, the Dallas issue involved ratcheting pot-possession 
penalties down from a jailable offense to a mere ticket.

The initiative stalled, bogged down in questions about how 
enforcement would vary in the portions of North Dallas within Collin 
and Denton counties. This is a good thing, and it is time to embrace 
the reasons why it is unwise to follow all the cool kids, from 
journalism to government, who think going easy on pot is just a great idea.

Funny thing: Among the oh, so clever voices calling for softening pot 
laws, almost none of them have to endure the ill effects of its 
widespread use in some communities and among some age groups.

What a bitter irony that some people who say they care about inner 
cities are flippant about facilitating a stoned society that makes 
those communities more dangerous. Their logical contortion that the 
laws themselves endanger society is either a hipster fantasy or a 
tired libertarian index card, neither one supported by residents in 
areas thick with pot haze or by the police officers who enforce those laws.

The voices lecturing us that we need to be more "sensible" about pot 
laws need to own the resulting damage they are ignoring among our 
nation's children.

I grew up with parents who told me it was wrong to smoke pot for two 
reasons: It was illegal and it was harmful. We can change the first 
but not the second.

Like countless people who write columns and pass laws today, I 
promptly ignored that advice once I reached adulthood. And maybe 
that's what fuels some of today's push among actual grown-ups to 
erode those very good anti-pot messages that used to be common in 
American families: We don't want to admit that when we strayed from 
the teachings of our parents and the law, we were doing something 
wrong and stupid. Now we run the risk of telling every child that the 
pot objections we have had forever were just kind of silly.

If you don't want to believe me about the wisdom of using pot, maybe 
you'll accept the testimony of Lady Gaga, who apparently smoked a lot 
more than I did: "I have been addicted to it," she said in a 2013 
radio interview. "I was smoking up to 15 or 20 marijuana cigarettes a 
day. ... I was living on a totally other psychedelic plane, numbing 
myself completely."

I hope the occasional Gaga fan in the legalization crowd, maybe even 
on the Dallas City Council, will heed her warning: "I just want young 
kids to know that you actually can become addicted to it, and there's 
this sentiment that you can't and that's actually not true."

And while we're busting myths, enough distracting sideshows about 
racial disparities in enforcement. This is almost surely a function 
of economics rather than race. Poor white kids in Dallas are more 
likely to get popped than the youth of Southlake, and affluent blacks 
are as insulated from likely arrest as their white stoner brothers 
and sisters. But if we ultimately need to bust some more white folks 
for pot, then fine, let's do it. I'm guessing this will not quiet the 
posturing of those who use the race card to fuel their real agenda.

Behaviorally, we get less of what we keep illegal and more of what we 
allow. Let the pushers of weaker pot laws explain how the 
de-stigmatization of more intoxicants makes a better city or a better nation.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom