#456: Why Parents Should Support Legalizing Marijuana



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #456 – Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Today newspapers are reporting that California’s respected Field Poll
found 49% of those likely voters support Proposition 19, with 42%
opposed and 9% undecided.

Since undecided voters tend to vote against on Election Day
Proposition 19 is in need of every possible vote.

You may help by contacting your California voter friends to let them
know how you feel about the initiative.

Perhaps sending one or more of the FOCUS Alerts about the issue would
help. You may send them from this page http://www.mapinc.org/focus/

Other ways you may help are found at the Proposition 19 website

Newspaper clippings about California’s Proposition 19 are MAP posted
at http://www.mapinc.org/find?272

Your letters to the editor are important, as we stated at this alert

If you are not yet registered to vote, please do so. You may use the
Rock the Vote system linked from http://drugsense.org/url/JoudT0rb to
register in your state.

Below is an article for parents.


Source: AlterNet (US Web)

Author: Hanna Liebman Dershowitz

Note: Hanna Liebman Dershowitz is mother of a seven-year-old and a
five-year-old. She is an attorney in Culver City and co-chair of the
Proposition 19 legal subcommittee.


“As Parents, We Know That Education Is Often More Effective Than
Punishment, and in Some Cases Punishment Is Not Effective at All.”

My son just started kindergarten. So naturally, I have been thinking
a lot about the type of world and community in which I want him and
our seven-year-old daughter to live. I am involved in a project to
improve school lunches in our district to reinforce the nutrition
lessons we teach in our home. I am a founding board member of a
community group trying to improve our city’s parks.

And I am working to help pass Proposition 19, the initiative to
control and tax marijuana in California. It is important to me as a
mother that my children grow up in a state–hopefully a country
soon–that rejects the ineffective and damaging policy of marijuana
prohibition. It may be counterintuitive, but legalizing marijuana
will be better and safer for our children.

I would like to believe my kids won’t ever choose to use drugs.

But whatever happens, it is certain that prohibition does not stop
kids from using marijuana, and that my kids will be exposed to it
along with other risky behaviors.

After all, about a third of high school seniors have used marijuana
within the last year, a figure that has been relatively stable over
decades across the country and has not been affected by variations in
laws and enforcement. Moreover, it has long been easier for kids to
get marijuana than it is for them to get alcohol.

The plain fact is drug dealers don’t require ID, and legitimate
businesses do. By taking marijuana out of the black market and
placing it within the confines of safe, regulated, and licensed
businesses that only sell to those 21 and over, Proposition 19 would
actually reduce underage access to marijuana.

While we don’t want our kids to try marijuana, if they do later on it
can lead to very harsh consequences if they are caught, even for
actions that are not harmful to others.

And this next part is really scary: when a person is convicted of a
marijuana offense, he or she is precluded from receiving federal
student loans, will forever have a drug record that diminishes job
prospects, and is precluded from many other benefits, not to mention
being arrested, possibly serving time, and other harsh and harrowing outcomes.

We don’t prevent even violent criminals from getting student loans.

Or underage drinkers, for that matter. I don’t want people to have
their lives derailed for a youthful indiscretion. Do you?

To truly serve public safety, we should control and tax marijuana,
since under present policies, thousands of violent crimes go
unsolved, while police spend valuable and scarce resources targeting
thousands of non-violent adult marijuana users.

Arrests for simple possession of marijuana have tripled over the last
two decades.

The $300 million California spends each year on marijuana enforcement
would better serve our communities spent on solving and preventing
violent crimes.

Any new tax revenues would better serve our children if spent on drug
education, drug rehabilitation, and of course shoring up our
crumbling public education system.

We know our children are going to make decisions for themselves,
probably at an age we think is too young.

Laws are not going to be nearly as effective in guiding those choices
as the messages we send to them as parents and in our public education efforts.

We need to help kids navigate into adulthood with the judgment to
moderate their intake of so many substances capable of abuse–from
sugar to caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, and, yes, marijuana.

Not to mention making good decisions about sex, Internet usage,
driving, studying, and extracurricular activities. As a mother,
thinking through the list, I am not most terrified by the choices
they might make regarding marijuana. How about you? So let’s treat
marijuana like alcohol, explain to our kids why they should avoid
both, at least while they are young, and teach them how to be
responsible about various choices in life.

This month, my five-year-old new kindergartner has taken up
rollerblading. He goes fast, and has a lot of confidence. He has
great balance so I resist the impulse to hover too much, even though
I know a skinned knee is possible.

I breathe a sigh of relief when he stops at driveways to ask if it’s
OK to go ahead.

And I hope that he will learn to internalize that check against his
daredevil tendencies. I will do my part, and I don’t want the state
hovering over my shoulder, reflexively criminalizing behaviors that
happen to make mothers gasp. As parents, we know that education is
often more effective than punishment, and in some cases punishment is
not effective at all.

Women were instrumental in bringing about repeal of Prohibition in
1933, and we can be again when it comes to determining when marijuana
prohibition is reversed.

In my view, Proposition 19 is the right choice–not just for true law
and order–but for our kids.