'Should marijuana be legalized?'
Yes – Phyllice Bradner
I have been signing petitions to legalize marijuana for more than 40 years, and I am finally beginning to see rational movement in public attitudes toward our ill-conceived “war on pot.”
We need only look back at the disastrous effects of the Prohibition era to recognize that laws prohibiting the manufacture, sale and possession of something people are going to use anyway only harms the economy and turns otherwise productive citizens into criminals. Laws that make no sense deteriorate the public’s respect for all laws and for those who enforce them.
I don’t smoke pot, but that doesn’t mean I think those who do should be considered criminals — not any more than I think my friends who drink alcohol would have been committing a crime in 1925. As I have seen firsthand, enforcement of these misdirected laws has done far more damage to some people’s lives than the use of the drug has ever done.
I have seen college students on paths to meaningful careers languish in jail for growing a few marijuana plants. Their ability to serve the community in productive jobs was lost while the government wasted public money prosecuting and incarcerating them.
I have seen those who choose to relax with a little pot — hardworking laborers, craftspeople, successful businesswomen, teachers and grandfathers — venture into back alleys, pay exorbitant prices and risk arrest, while those who choose alcohol instead stroll into a liquor store or tavern for their legal libations.
I personally have known respected politicians who use pot at home and then speak in favor of drug laws to appease constituents. Why? Because Americans are hypocrites!
So many people we idolize — movie stars, musicians, soldiers, writers, athletes, public figures of all sorts — admit to using pot for recreation and relaxation. Do we really think of them as criminals? Of course not; we merely turn a blind eye. And yet we direct our law enforcement officers to arrest the enterprising hippie dude for growing some pot in his back yard.
Obviously , when you decriminalize marijuana, you save government money. How much? Consider the cost of enforcement, prosecution and often defense, incarceration, probation officers, foster care for children of incarcerated offenders and public assistance for families whose wage-earners have been jailed.
Instead of sucking money from our dwindling state coffers, legal marijuana could generate tax revenue. Sales to minors can be regulated as it is with alcohol. Growing and processing cannabis and hemp will create farming and manufacturing jobs that will boost the economy.
There’s no doubt that we have a big drug problem in our country. Sales of illegal drugs to U.S. consumers make up a huge percentage of the market that benefits foreign drug cartels.
Phyllice Bradner is a McMinnville author and award-winning artist with associate degrees in art and journalism. She owned and operated Katz & Dawgs retail shop in McMinnville. In Alaska, she ran her own communications business for 17 years and worked as an art director, interior designer and political consultant.
No – Jack Crabtree
As a sheriff, parent, husband and American citizen, I find it troublesome to observe the tragedies striking our youth every day. I wish I knew what causes such tragedies, but since I don’t, I will offer an educated guess.
I believe children are the products of both their parents and the environment in which they are raised. Children are like sponges, absorbing what they observe, and they constantly are looking for cues about right and wrong behavior.
I believe people want to do the right thing. Unfortunately, over the years, what once was deemed wrong now is considered a good thing.
For example, behaviors that once were wrong, but which since have been accepted by society as “good,” include the promotion of gambling and the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs such as marijuana.
Fortunately, our society finally realized that the harmful effects of tobacco use could no longer be denied, and we have since admitted that the promotion of its use has destroyed countless lives.
Regrettably, society has not reached the same point with the other behaviors. When we allow the promotion of these vices as “good” things, our children are not aware of factual consequences. Thousands of people enroll in expensive treatment programs or need hospitalization, or worse, die as a result of their drug use.
Four million people are dependent on or abusers of marijuana. Annual emergency room admissions involving marijuana have surpassed those involving heroin. And marijuana use is associated with depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. Youths who engage in anti-social behavior are far more likely to use marijuana than those who do not. Recent studies show that marijuana use among adolescents has a direct cause and effect on their IQ, and increases school dropout rates.
For these reasons, I find it difficult to support the “cop out” of today’s misinformed messages that we should legalize and promote these vices because they are perceived to be safe.
The truth is, we don’t have the will to take a stand and resist what we all know will increase the health risks and danger of addiction to our youth.
Legalizing marijuana will increase exposure and usage among adolescents as well as adults. Also, addiction, incarceration and abuse of this drug will increase, as will the inherent negative financial strain on our society. So why are we even considering legalization?
If we are going to have an honest debate about marijuana, then it should be based on facts, not myths. Therefore, we should consider the following questions:
Do we want to increase the availability and consumption of marijuana within our communities?
Do we want to increase the financial burden upon taxpayers?
Do we desire additional stress to our fragile health care system and our overburdened criminal justice system?
Do we want to increase the mental and physical health risks to our families?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then a Yes vote is appropriate; if you answer no to any of them, then vote No on legalizing marijuana.
Recently, the sheriffs of Oregon took a stand. I believe a story published in the sheriff’s magazine helped prevent the legalization of marijuana in Oregon. The story, which was very informative and to the point, was entitled, “What’s good about marijuana? Nothing!”
Over the past decade, exposure of drug prevention ads in the media and from school sources has declined. Meanwhile, messages in the media about marijuana being safe have increased, leading to a false sense of security among our children that smoking marijuana is OK.
Finally, recent studies show that 40 percent of adolescents never talk with their parents about the dangers of substance abuse. For me, this leaves one last question about the debate over legalizing marijuana: “Have you talked to your kids about drugs lately?”
Guest writer Jack Crabtree was elected Yamhill County Sheriff in 2002 and headed the sheriff’s detective division in the county for 12 years before that. He has headed investigations in many drug-related and high-profile cases over the years, most recently the seizure of 544 marijuana plants worth $500,000 in Sheridan.