Friday, July 20 , 2018, 6:47 pm | Fair 71º


Janet Rowse: Marijuana Legalization Does Nothing to Pay It Forward for Future Generations

Not only is Proposition 19 poorly written, it puts our children in increasing danger from drug abuse

Don’t let facts, logic and history scare you, we want to use drugs and feel good about it. The most self-indulgent, self-medicated generation in history is poised to increase our lack of social interaction and communicative dysfunction by making sure that frontal-lobe impairment is accessible and convenient to all.

» “Have compassion, it’s medicine!” That was the sales pitch that sold us Proposition 215 in 1996 and, as is the case with almost all initiative law, it needed further definition, leading to SB 420. Now, apparently we need marijuana for financial reasons. We can “legalize it and tax it” is the common libertarian cry, so now we have the common cause of Proposition 19 to “legalize” it. Compassionate use was just a red herring toward normalization and legalization of this federally illegal Schedule I drug, concerns about taxing this “medicine” was never really a problem. Soon enough the gig would be up.

» “Prohibition doesn’t work, and our jails are full of nonviolent victims of oppressive drug laws.” First of all, there is no prohibition on marijuana currently in California. Personal use, possession and cultivation for “medical” purposes are protected for all adults to do everything but make a retail career out of it — and often even that is sanctioned, as we’ve seen in Santa Barbara. Second, our jails are not full of people incarcerated for simple possession, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation data note that 0.03 percent are there for possession, often the result of a final plea bargain from more serious arresting offenses.

» “The violent drug cartels from Mexico will go away with legalization.” Yeah, and La Cosa Nostra left America after Prohibition. Let’s not get started on that finger wagging from Mexico. Let’s do some Econ 101. Legalization brings the price down as the supply comes out into the light. There are 49 other states that consume Mexican pot, and they will continue to operate on our side of the border, murders and all.

» “Everyone is using it anyway, the use of pot wouldn’t increase significantly with legalization.” If you want to use the liquor analogy, compare the use and production of alcohol after prohibition to during prohibition ... usage soared. In addition, the federal government (with whom the ultimate responsibility must lie) developed some very stringent regulations about the sale and distribution of alcohol that exist to this day. Every drop of legal liquor is regulated so that the source, content and potency are known. Further, believe it or not, some folks actually do or don’t do some things based on whether that activity is legal.

The reality is that we will be seeing some form of marijuana legislation in the works for years to come, regardless of the outcome of this election. Prop. 19, like other initiatives in the past, is poorly written and creates more problems than solutions. Serious drug-control reform must happen at the federal level, but proponents of marijuana know that California has initiative law as part of our process, and that we have been manipulated by special interests in the past.

Most important, decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana will not happen in the absence of harm. The three most controlled and regulated drugs: tobacco, alcohol and prescription medications, are the three most abused drugs by our youth. Our local youth are abusing drugs more than their counterparts throughout California. What does this mean for all of us? Their success is our future, too. Now that we know the human brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-20s and therefore more susceptible to damage and addiction, aren’t we as the adults committing a form of child abuse if we knowingly make yet another drug more accessible and more tolerated?

If you still believe that further normalizing drug use is the way to go, please consider the world that your children and grandchildren will inherit. Our kids deserve better from adults. Will the continued drugging of our citizens — which makes us more susceptible to illness, dependency and manipulation — make us better or worse off? Will we be more prepared to adjust and respond to the challenges of the future by our continuing to self-medicate? Please read the language of the proposition and give this your serious attention before you vote.

— Janet Rowse is a veteran parent volunteer in the Santa Barbara School Districts who has been following the Santa Barbara medical marijuana dispensary ordinance closely.

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