Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vote No to Legalizing Marijuana

Not Your Grandpa’s Shake        Opposition to Prop 64      


Why shouldn’t we legalize recreational use of marijuana? People should be allowed to get high if they want to, right? I used to think that way; I didn’t think marijuana should be illegal. The first time I smoked pot, as a teenager in the 1960’s, my step-brother sent some home from Viet Nam; it opened more than my eyes, it opened a door into the drug world that I couldn’t close for 15 years. During those years I got involved with drug smugglers, growers, and dealers and I learned first hand that people who break the law in one area don’t think twice about breaking it in other areas. So let me start there: marijuana is still illegal at the Federal level, anyone using it in any form is still breaking a Federal law, that’s one area. Here is another part of law breaking, people get high and get in their cars and drive. The American Automobile Association AAA has statistics of an increase in car accidents in states that have legalized marijuana. (Sacramento Bee 2016) Driving under the influence of marijuana is like drinking and driving, and we already have a lot of people out there getting into their cars after a wine tasting, do we need to add to the numbers of impaired drivers? Speaking of wine, there are people who believe that smoking a joint is no different than drinking a glass of wine. Really? When is the last time someone told you they got paranoid after drinking wine? I know that for over 30 years the growers have been cultivating to get stronger strains of cannabis with higher Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. Smugglers didn’t just bring back pounds, they also brought seeds to the growers; they wanted those sticky resin fibers on the buds in abundance for a longer lasting high and the hallucinatory effect, which makes you vulnerable to paranoia. This generation of Cannabis isn’t your grandpa’s shake, that’s what we called the baggies of leaves we smoked. Those dried out leaves weren’t very strong, but even that marijuana was and still is considered a drug. Remember marijuana is a drug that affects your brain; research what marijuana does to the brain (How Stuff Works Bosner and Gerbis 2001).  

Marijuana is especially harmful to developing brains, the very time when many young people try it, not realizing that some people have a predisposition for mental illness. High levels of THC can cause psychosis which can be triggered the earlier a person starts smoking marijuana. (Royal College of Psychiatrists 2016) There are studies in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe confirming this, why isn’t there more research here in the United States on cannabis and its side effects? We passed the Medical Marijuana Bill without going through the right channels so now we have growers and distributors telling us it’s good for whatever ails us; there is antidotal hearsay for topical use to the cure for cancer. But think about this, if it cures cancer then what did Bob Marley die from? (Wikipedia) He was the Jamaican ganja guru of my generation.

Here is another side effect of legalization that you rarely hear about: pets and children getting into marijuana edibles and overdosing. I first saw this on Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet, a program out of Colorado, where he was trying to save a dog that had eaten its owner stash, so I asked my local vet and he verified it saying that they were seeing an increase in cases.

Ask yourself “Who is behind this push for the legalization of marijuana?” Follow the money trail. (Washington Times 2014) One reason proponents use to legalize is by saying that it will solve our financial problems. That is the same argument the Lottery used and did the Lottery help our schools, or are we still asking for money to repair buildings, provide books for children, and pay our teachers? Bringing in taxes, if the distributors comply, will not offset the costs incurred from implementing this proposed law.

Prop 64 wants you to believe that by legalizing marijuana we won’t have criminal activity by the drug cartels. Back in the early 1970’s when I was involved there wasn’t a drug cartel, my friends just thought we were doing a good thing by bringing money to the struggling farmers in Mexico, and other places, and then bringing marijuana back so people could party. That justification worked until people starting dying. There is always a consequence to the choices we make. I see now that the money we and other people gave them, planted the very seeds that grew the drug cartels, and now the cartels have moved on to other more lucrative illegal drugs.  

One thing I think the proponents and opponents of Prop 64 agree on is the problem of incarcerating people for minor marijuana possession. These long term sentences overcrowd our prisons. We need Sentencing Reform, more addiction recovery programs, and an up grade in our mental health facilities, not blanket legalization of marijuana. 

Another thing I know personally is that it is rare for a person to smoke marijuana and not go on to try other drugs, and for addicts it’s “one is never enough and one is too many.” We didn’t believe that marijuana was addicting, we now know that anything that changes your brain chemistry and is used on a continual basis becomes an addiction. (Pietrangelo 2014) If Prop 64 passes more people will try marijuana adding to the numbers of people who have a tendency towards addiction. Is that what we need in California; a tsunami of new addicts? If Proposition 64 passes then we will all be dealing with the fall out from DUI, drug addiction which harms our families and neighborhoods, and adds people to our flawed mental health system. I have the benefit of hindsight and longevity to say that in my opinion Prop 64 is bad for California.