Last chance for Mary Jane

21Oct16

cannabis_station

A lot of people who plan to vote “Yes” on Question 4 will be in for a big surprise after it passes.

They think the ballot question to legalize marijuana for recreational use is about making it so that people won’t go to jail for smoking a joint. But what it’s really about is allowing the profit-driven, billion-dollar marijuana industry to set up shop all over the state, including right here in Wakefield.

police_bikesI’m told that I’m insulting the voters’ intelligence by suggesting that they don’t understand the ramifications of Question 4. OK, so why do I keep hearing about all the law enforcement resources that will be saved if Question 4 passes? It’s one of the pro-pot crowd’s favorite arguments that we’re wasting millions of dollars jailing people for pot.

Here’s a newsflash: no one has gone to jail for simple possession of marijuana in Massachusetts since at least 2008, because possession of less than an ounce of weed has not been a criminal offense since the state decriminalized it that year.

The worst that can happen is you’ll be handed a citation and have to pay a fine. But a lot of times, nothing happens – even if someone is caught with more than an ounce.

Every time I hear someone talk about all the money and law enforcement resources we’ll save by not putting people in jail for pot, I issue the same challenge: Name one person who has gone to prison in Massachusetts for simple marijuana possession in the last decade.
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If so many people are being jailed for pot, it should be easy to come up with one example. But so far, no one has been able meet the challenge.

Still, they continue advance the argument that we’re going to save all this money and free up all kinds of law enforcement resources if Question 4 passes. And people believe it. To paraphrase H.L Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American stoner – least of all the marijuana industry, which is poised to make millions of dollars in Massachusetts if Question 4 passes.

I attended a public information session on Question 4 that was held in Melrose on Tuesday night. One of the speakers was pediatrician Dr. Alan Woolf, who talked about all the negative effects that marijuana has on the still developing adolescent brain.
alan_woolfDr. Woolf is director of the Environmental Medicine Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and board-certified medical toxicologist.

But what the hell does he know?

Compare his credentials to the stoner in mom’s basement Googling how George Washington smoked hemp – whoever this George Washington dude was.

Of course, the pot proponents point out that under the new law, those under 21 won’t be allowed to use marijuana. The same way teenagers aren’t allowed to drink? Oh, I feel much better now.

marijuana_plantIn addition to the black market, we’ll be adding the new legal marijuana market, not to mention the 12 pot plants that every two-adult household will be allowed to grow at home.

But kids will never get ahold of it.

The pro-pot crowd claims that right now it’s easier for teens to get ahold of pot than alcohol. Again, they never let the facts get in the way of what sounds like a good argument. Actually, the statistics show that far more teens drink than smoke pot.

Why do you suppose that is? Could it have something to do with the fact that alcohol is legal?

We have far more problems with alcohol than we do with all the illegal drugs combined. Is alcohol a more harmful substance than cocaine? Than heroin? Than meth?

The answer is obviously “no.”

So what’s the reason that alcohol causes us so much more damage than all of the other drugs? What’s different about alcohol?

If you answered, “It’s legal,” you win. And now some people want to make another mind-altering drug legal. What could possibly go wrong?

In terms of its cost to society, alcohol is a net loser. Unfortunately, it’s so intricately woven into the culture, there’s no way to get rid of it. That horse long ago left the barn.

Pot proponents tell us that the history of the 1920s teaches us that Prohibition doesn’t work. Actually, what Prohibition teaches us is that once you make a substance legal, you can’t go back and make it illegal again.

marijuana_storeIf we legalize marijuana, it’s forever – like alcohol.

If you want a commercial marijuana industry in your backyard that will be looking to expand its market and grow its profits by getting more and more people – especially young people – to use its product, then go ahead and vote “Yes” on Question 4.

If you don’t want to legitimize and normalize another way for people to get high – if you don’t see that a plus for our state, then join me in voting “No.”

Nov. 8 is our last chance. There won’t be any do-overs.

[This column originally appeared in the October 20, 2016 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “Last chance for Mary Jane”

  1. 1 .

    Wonderful article! I for one will be voting no on question 4.


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