Last evening, Indiana NORML and the Howard County Cannabis Coalition hosted the First Congressional Cannabis Debate for candidates in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. Four candidates appeared in Kokomo for the event.
I was proud to be one of four candidates who appeared and participated. The other candidates were Andrew Bales (the other Republican Party candidate), and Jennifer Christie and Dee Thornton (candidates in the Democratic Party primary).
Here is a link https://www.facebook.com/IndianaNORML/videos/482024609110691/
The audience was great. My views were a bit different from the views of the other candidates. I am glad to say three of us stated our support for legalization of marijuana. I believe we should go further.
First, prohibition of pot and of alcohol have proven equally successful - in other words, not at all successful. Turf wars between gangs arise. People still consume. People die, go to prison, or at the very least acquire criminal histories.
Second, any “bad effects” of marijuana result from its illegality, not from the intrinsic nature of use of the plant. There are no harmful effects in the use of marijuana. The World Health Organization has noted: There are no cases of fatal cannabis poisoning in the human medical literature. WHO, “The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use,” 2016, p. 19.
Pot never has been proven to have a “gateway effect.” Janet E. Joy, et al., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Div. of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999).
No link has been established between smoking pot and increases in traffic accidents. Pot smokers tend to compensate effectively while driving via behavioral strategies. Epidemiological studies: inconclusive re: whether pot use causes increase risk of accidents Sewell, et al, “The Effect of Cannabis Compared with Alcohol on Driving, Am J. Addict. 2009; 18(3): p. 185.
On the other hand, organized crime profits greatly when marijuana is illegal. According to one study, when a state on the Mexican border legalised medical use, violent crime fell by 13% on average. The Guardian, “Legal marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws see crime fall,” 01/14/18.
The danger of buying and using any illegal drug is we can never know for sure what exactly is in it. Since cannabis is illegal, it is unregulated. It could contain contaminants like mold or mildew or fillers that may be toxic. Drugs produced and obtained inside a regulated system can be controlled for purity and strength. The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, “If cannabis is dangerous, why are we legalizing it?” 2018.
Drug laws racially discriminate: despite studies showing black and white people use marijuana at the same rates, black people are approximately four times as likely to be arrested for either misdemeanor or felony marijuana possession, and enforcement of marijuana possession laws has created a crippling backlog at the state agency tasked with analyzing forensic evidence in all criminal cases, including violent crimes. Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center , “Alabama’s War on Marijuana,” 10/18/18.
Third, because marijuana is illegal under Federal law, banks do not allow accounts for cannabis businesses. That subjects people in States in which pot is legal to heightened concerns for security.
Some believe “decriminalization” is a good mid-way point, but that means pot STILL WOULD BE ILLEGAL. Possession would be the same as a parking ticket, but it could not be consumed, or bought and sold, legally. That means there still is the problem of the illicit market.
One person at last night’s debate suggested it is not the right time to legalize pot. That is as silly as when people claimed the time was not “right” for marriage equality.
The same candidate said this was not an issue she considers as amongst the most important. I say because prohibition of marijuana affects tens of millions of people in this country every day, it IS important.
While I believe marijuana should be legalized, I would go further and say the arguments about prohibition apply equally to all drugs. All drugs should be legalized. Portugal decriminalized all drugs - IN 2001.
In Portugal, usage rates have gone down. They face none of the problems that those who pushed the “war on drugs” said we would face. (I was at one of several events that commemorated the end of the “war on drugs.” The events were called Grateful Dead concerts.)
We need to legalize all drugs, expunge the criminal histories of non-violent drug offenses of all of those who have been victims of this absurd effort, and devote our resources elsewhere than drug enforcement.
I am Mark Small, a candidate in the GOP primary for U.S. House in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. I say: LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS. I approve of this blog. Hell, I wrote it.