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News (Media Awareness Project) - US UT: Editorial: Opposing Marijuana
Title:US UT: Editorial: Opposing Marijuana
Published On:2012-02-02
Source:Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)
Fetched On:2012-02-04 06:00:28

Opponents of the movement to allow marijuana use for medical purposes
have long warned it is the foot in the door toward what supporters
really want - full acceptance of recreational marijuana use. Those
warnings are gradually coming true.

Later this week, Washington state is expected to certify petition
signatures to place a measure on November's ballot legalizing
marijuana for recreational purposes. Colorado officials may do the
same with an initiative petition there soon. Both states already
allow medical marijuana, as do 14 others and the District of
Columbia. Supporters of the initiatives say they have a responsible
approach that restricts usage to adults. Washington would allow sales
through only those outlets licensed by the state, which would control
production. Drunken driving laws would be changed to include limits
on the blood content of THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

But there really is no responsible way to expand the universe of
harmful substances that are acceptable by law. While there are
legitimate arguments for changing the focus of the criminal justice
system to one of treatment, rather than imprisonment, for users,
there would be no public benefit in making the drug legal. Marijuana
is a mind-altering and addictive substance that is detrimental to health.

Even the arguments that legal marijuana would undercut and destroy
the lucrative illegal drug trade should be tempered by a dose of
reality. A tightly controlled marijuana market still would encourage
drug traffickers to cultivate and sell a type of marijuana that is
more potent than the official brand. Meanwhile, the idea that
sanctioning a drug would somehow reduce the rate of usage, as some
claim, is fuzzy thinking, at best. For several reasons, including
history and culture, the marijuana trade is not analogous to alcohol
during prohibition.

Fortunately, the White House has been consistent in its policy
against the legalization of marijuana. In a statement late last year,
the Obama administration seemed to indicate it is prepared to
continue the long-standing policy of not granting immunity from
federal drug prosecution because of contradictory state laws.

At the time, Obama's director of the Office of National Drug Control
Policy said, "...legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to
any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and
community quality of life challenges associated with drug use." He
also mentioned the drug's connection to respiratory disease,
cognitive impairment and addiction.

Supporters have been buoyed by a recent Gallup poll that showed 50
percent of Americans supporting legalization, a record level of
support. That is the opposite of what appears to be happening in
Europe, where support is dwindling despite some countries' experience
with permissive laws.

California voters rejected a similar legalization measure in 2010.
They may have been influenced by the strong opposition of the
American Society for Addiction Medicine, as well as by common sense.
We hope similar thinking prevails in Washington and Colorado.
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