After Steve Chapman had his outstanding OpEd in the Chicago Tribune: An unconventional cure for Mexicoâ€™s drug violence, former DEA administrator emerged to pen this letter to the Tribune: Fighting for health and safety
In it, he basically tosses out every prohibitionist argument in a row, without any context or attempt to explain or defend them. It’s a really pathetic attempt.
It would not stop crime but would increase health problems and costs, highway deaths, workplace accidents, absenteeism at work and school, and lower academic achievement, and it would open up a bigger market for the drug cartels. […]
Health consequences would be enormous.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves all medicines in the U.S., as it should, but has never approved smoked marijuana nor any medicine that is smoked.
Marijuana has cancer-causing elements and tar content.
Chronic use would flood California emergency rooms.
Health costs will skyrocket with accidents and when the negative impact on immune and respiratory systems occur.
Violence in Mexico has escalated because traffickers feel the heat from the Mexican military. […]
Highway accidents from drugged drivers are already a problem.
With marijuana legal, California highways would become death traps.
These are the ravings of an Alzheimer’s patient who is just throwing words out there that he’s used a thousand times, with no context or meaning.
And yes, this truly is the level of discourse to which our opponents have sunk. And people are starting to notice.
That’s right, the media is starting to notice.
John H. Richardson at Esquire Magazine writes Losing the Drug War in California and notes:
Opponents of the proposed law to legalize and tax marijuana need better arguments, because just saying they’re concerned that kids will start driving high is sending the debate up in smoke.[…]
… the New York Times ran a story with comments from the president of the California Peace Officer’s Association, John Standish. “We just don’t think anything good will come of this,” he said. “It’s not going to better society. It’s going to denigrate it.”
Later he was quoted again: “We have a hard enough time now with drunk drivers on the road. This is just going to add to the problems â€” I cannot think of one crime scene I’ve been to where people said, ‘Thank God the person was just under the influence of marijuana.'”
My jaw dropped. That’s it? That’s the best you’ve got? For that, thousands of people die every year in the drug war? For that, we arrest more than seven hundred thousand Americans a year? For that, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on police, prisons, and international eradication efforts?
Richardson goes on to tell how other spokespeople responded and added more arguments…
These are the arguments he came up with:
“First off, the figure of seven hundred thousand arrested is factually inaccurate â€” people do not get arrested for simple possession. The most that happens is they’re given a citation and release. In California, the penalty for simple possession is $100 fine.”
In other words, pot isn’t all that illegal, which strikes me as a weird argument for keeping the drug war going full tilt. It also suggests they don’t take the stoned driver problem as seriously as their rhetoric suggests.
“Second, I think what John was trying to say is that the burden of proof is on the legalizers, because right now what you have is serious public safety problems caused by alcohol abuse, pharmaceutical abuse, tobacco that kills people. Given all that, the question is, What is the public policy good of adding another substance that alters their minds?”
Also, “this substance is a registered carcinogen.” […]
At that point, I had to stop him and ask the obvious question: Isn’t the drug war exactly like Prohibition? Didn’t the legalization of booze make Al Capone’s mobsters pack their Tommy guns back in their cello cases so semi-law-abiding citizens like Joseph P. Kennedy could take over the liquor “cartels.”
“That’s a theoretical argument,” he said.
“But isn’t it true?
“For sure, it’s going to cost every employer more in insurance,” he said. “If you look at section 11340C, the only thing an employer can do is address consumption issues of an employee that actually affect their workplace performance â€” if you’re in possession, an employer can’t take any action. If you test dirty, the employer can’t do anything.”
So you can only punish an employee for something that “actually affects his workplace performance” â€“ these are his words, folks. In other words, if a person gets stoned on Saturday night and comes in Monday morning 100 percent sober, there’s no way to punish him? And the problem with this is?
This war is lost. The only question now is how much more blood and treasure we’re going to waste before we all admit it.
Nicely done by John Richardson. And it’s so true. The prohibitionists just keep throwing stuff out there hoping something will stick, even though it makes no sense. I love the “this substance is a registered carcinogen.” Registered? Well, let’s see… it’s been registered with NIDA through the largest study to date as a substance that most definitely will not cause cancer.
And the pathetic whining that the only way to fire someone for drugs under legalization is if it actually affects their job performance. How much more obvious can you get? These people don’t care about drugged driving or workplace accidents or cancer or kids smoking pot. These are just arguments they’re using to disguise their real reasons for being against legalization (money, jobs, power, and just not liking the people who like marijuana).