THE TRUTH ABOUT MARIJUANA

People who have followed my columns know that I have supported the legalization and control of majrijuana, but do not support its use, outside of medical purposes.  The reasons are simple: The 40-year war on drugs is lost, and it is a futile endeavor to continue wasting taxpayer funds, jamming courts, jails and prisons, with violators who are undeterred. Then, attaching the stigma of criminal records onto millions of young people that will follow them for life. We must seek a new strategy for discouraging users, youngsters in particular.

Meanwhile the continued draconian laws and policies only serve to fatten the war chests of drug cartels everywhere, much the same as the Organized Crime bosses of the Prohibition era profited from laws that banned behavior that could not be dissuaded.   Since the beginning of time, crime syndicates thrive on unenforceable laws.

This article appears in today’s issue of the TC Palm newspapers serving the Treasure Coast of SE Florida. 

Marshall Frank: Marijuana a dangerous drug; let children know the truth

Marshall Frank is an author and retired South Florida police detective who lives in Melbourne. Online: MarshallFrank.com.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It is a misnomer and a moral transgression to say that marijuana is a harmless drug. It is absolutely not harmless. I hope the teens are reading this.

Yet, as burning cigarettes were once a regular prop in movie scenes, passing a joint around has become the new cinematic norm, as though it’s cool, it’s safe and fun. Shame on the movie industry for glamorizing the use of drugs. That’s like glamorizing poison.

Shame on adults and parents, young and old, who openly use marijuana, giving it tacit approval by example. More than once I’ve heard, “My mom and dad use it, there’s nothing wrong.”

That being said, I would agree that new attitudes about decriminalizing marijuana are needed in this country, because we are constantly stuffing courts and prisons with people who are not dangerous to society. This gives many young people prison stigmas for life, just for possessing a weed that gets people high.

Using small amounts of marijuana is still illegal in 48 states. It is an unenforceable law, although pot is used by nearly 20 million people. It is the best example of how much the so-called “war on drugs” is a colossal failure. The laws and the policies have not worked. We need a new game plan — without jails — with the same objective, to deter the use of drugs, particularly by young people.

In a nutshell, here are the main reasons marijuana is harmful.

It impairs judgment for driving that cannot be detected like alcohol.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites long term use deters IQ, especially when adolescents begin using in the teen years.

Regular use causes lethargy, lack of ambition and memory problems.

Long term use is linked to mental problems, such as paranoia and schizophrenia.

Marijuana is addictive to people who have a predisposition to addictions

Casual marijuana is still illegal in 48 states, which results in the arrests of nearly one million people a year, giving them criminal records that affect their lives.

Gateway drug? Some say yes, some no. Here’s the truth: If you’re prone to enjoying drugs, marijuana will likely be your first, but not your last.

Colorado and Washington have passed laws legalizing small amounts of pot. No doubt, more states will follow. Nobody should celebrate these new laws, unless the states agree to use the tax funds saved from burdening the courts, cops and prisons, into appropriations for meaningful programs that prevent, educate and treat. That is essential.

We’ve all see how effective anti-cigarette campaigns have reduced smoking. The same should be applied to the use of pot, so that Americans get the truth about the harmful effects, too many to name in one article.

Recent studies show that 44 percent of eighth-graders think pot is totally harmless. And while 16 percent of eighth-graders have smoked marijuana, that number jumps to 42 percent for high school seniors.

Children need to know the truth and it’s our job as adults to provide that truth.