by Jeff Meyers
Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney, who is also president of the California Police Chiefs Association, has come out swinging against marijuana legalization in order to save our citizens from the evil weed. Especially the children.
But let's be real for once: Maintaining marijuana prohibition and the status quo not only doesn't protect our children, it does the opposite.
The unregulated black market puts children at grave risk every day from drug dealers who don't verify age, don't care about regulations on potency and purity, and don't have any scruples about offering kids various assortments of far more dangerous drugs than weed, such as cocaine and heroin.
Last month, Chief Corney said legalization "will have a significant negative effect on the quality of life for communities across California." According to the chief, the sky was already falling in Colorado, where a 2012 voter-approved ballot initiative made it the first state to legalize marijuana. Although the chief correctly pointed out that emergency room admissions for pot doubled from 2012 through 2013, his information is old history now.
Although marijuana was technically legal to sell and consume in Colorado in 2012, it took the state government two years to devise new laws and strict regulations and get a system up and running. Those two unregulated years were marred by problems until 2014 when — cue the trumpets — the rules and regulations finally went into effect.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, owner of a brewery, was initially opposed to legalization and said if he "could wave a magic wand" he would reverse the vote. But he has since changed his mind. Not only because of hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue, but because the new system is working beyond expectations.
In a May 17 article, the L.A. Times wrote: "None of Hickenlooper's worst fears were realized …. marijuana consumption has not changed much from pre-legalization levels, and there has been no significant increase in public health and safety problems."
In the same article, a Hickenlooper spokesman said, "In the beginning, we had problems with edibles and hash oil fires but now, for the most part, Colorado looks a lot like it did before legalization." Maybe even better.
From the Times' story: "Colorado is booming. The state has a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, one of the best in the country. High-tech companies are moving in. Small towns across the state, some once teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, have been saved by tax revenues from pot dispensaries. And the $1-billion-a-year cannabis business will pump $100 million in taxes into state coffers this year."
Many substances we ingest have risks. Peanut butter can kill and so can the pills in your medicine cabinet: Government-approved prescription drugs kill 100,000 Americans a year, but nobody refers to pharmacists as drug dealers or Big Pharma as a cartel.
And then there is America's favorite legal drug, alcohol. Besides liver disease, broken homes, assault and daily carnage on the roads caused by alcohol, there are some 80,000 deaths attributable to excessive use every year in the United States.
Let this fact sink in: In recorded history, cannabis has never caused a single overdose. None. In a 1988 ruling favoring medical marijuana, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young wrote, "Cannabis is the safest therapeutic substance known to man … safer than most foods."
Please rely on facts and common sense in November and vote yes to legalize cannabis. Let's protect the kids with a well-regulated market and age restrictions … and stop arresting and fining adults (most of them minorities) for using a drug far less dangerous than alcohol.
Jeff Meyers, of Westlake Village, is a former L.A. Times staff writer and producer of the documentary "Emperor of Hemp."
Read more here: http://www.vcstar.com/opinion/columnists/jeff-meyers-legalizing-marijuana-would-create-a-well-regulated-market-356845d4-5d73-167b-e053-010000-383481531.html