Red Herrings

There was a “Town Hall” meeting up in Seattle the 19th; Seattle Speaks: Marijuana Policy. I meant to catch it and participate from my keyboard. Meant to – I missed it. I caught the archived version the other morning. If you have any interest you can catch it at the url below (1 1\2 hr.). I haven’t a clue how long it’ll be valid.

I did send in a short email prior to the program. I was pleasantly surprised to hear it read first. Emails were sent and read during the program.

The prohibitionists keep using the same red herring arguments time and time again. Those being, the children, addiction\abuse and impaired driving.

“Impaired driving,” is non sequitur in my opinion. We have existing laws to address that; whether it be alcohol, prescribed drugs, cannabis… Or are they speaking of more incidence of?  I don’t see crystal ball hypothesise as being an arguing point.

We don’t need a crystal ball to evaluate what effect legalization would have on drug abuse. We have real social evidence. There are cool numbers like percentages and, uh, stuff. Isn’t everyone familiar with the “Portugal Experiment ” by now? Haven’t I written of that all-the-ready? Alright, at the risk of repeating myself –

In 2001 Portugal abolished all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs. They didn’t legalize, but quit locking people up for small amounts of drugs. Yeah, like coke, heroin and meth even. The naysayers were more than few. Some had the opinion that Portugal would become some sort of dopers’ Meca. It hasn’t quite worked out that way. I know numbers are boring, but in order for me to give evidence, I must. The Cato institute, a Libertarian think tank, released the following:

After decrim Portugal had the lowest rate of marijuana use in the European Union for people over 15 at 10%. The number for the U.S. runs almost 40% for people over 12 (people who have used at least once). More people in the U.S. have used cocaine than people in Portugal have used marijuana (proportionally).

In the first five years the rates of use (again, at least once) between seventh and eighth graders dropped from 14% to 10.5%. Drug use in older teens dropped too. Heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds dropped from 2.5% to 1.8%.

In a four-year period new HIV infections in drug users dropped 17%. Drug deaths were cut more than in half. Treatment (methadone) for drug addiction rose from 6,040 to 14,877. The bucks Portugal saved from prosecuting and imprisoning went to drug abuse assistance.

So, we’ve seen decriminalization in action. Can you imagine what legalization would do for our country!

I suppose I jumped ahead a bit by quoting the drug numbers for children. That’s okay. Another word on that though: With the current market regulated by gangs and cartels anyone with the money in their pocket can buy illegal drugs. Black marketers don’t have any age requirements.  Further, there’s a good chance that drug peddler is sitting right there in class. Prohibition does nothing but exacerbate the adolescent drug problem.

The legalization detractors are beating an old worn out drum. Worse, it appears it was never a drum at all but only an old oatmeal container. The flat notes are beginning to irritate me. Have you ever engaged in an argument with a person and soon realized they were arguing just for the sake of argument. Yeah, that kind of irritating.

Don’t get me started on bunk research associating cannabis use with schizophrenia. I might just freak out on ya’, man. Heh.


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