Fri, May 24

Letter: ‘Weed vs. Guns’ reveals absurdity of marijuana prohibition


Your article on weed vs. guns reveals the absurdity of marijuana prohibition. Not only is the government’s understanding of marijuana and its users based on flawed premises, out-dated notions, and a lack of experience or understanding, but focusing on enforcing marijuana prohibition is a waste of money, manpower, and time. Marijuana users are probably among the least violent people out there, and there are many vets among them. Good luck trying to get their guns from them.

This illustrates well that those making and enforcing the laws are from a particular socio-economic background and have little to no experience with marijuana or other drugs; similar biases exist in other government institutions. I find it ironic that we often demand our reps have experience to work in government, except when it comes to drugs. It would seem prudent to hire people who have past drug experiences to inform drug policy, since they are the only ones who actually know something about drugs. But no, it seems that the feds would rather cling to an out-dated reefer madness mentality that serves no one well because it is propaganda not reality. And furthermore, at least when it comes to marijuana use, the feds are doing us all a grave disservice by excluding from employment many bright and talented individuals who just happen to smoke weed instead of drinking alcohol.

Many of those who voted against marijuana legalization in this state freely admitted they had no firsthand knowledge of marijuana or its users. As someone who actually grew up in a poor, drug-infested, violent neighborhood, I’ll paint a realistic picture for you all: the drug user population is like an iceberg: the violent crimes, extreme behaviors, and overdoses are the visible part above water, while the rest of the drug using population is beneath the water out of sight. The majority of the drug using population just going about their daily lives, and using whatever drug of choice gets them through the day. You hear and see nothing about them because they give no cause for alarm or attention, and other than their drug use they are not committing any crimes. So why do they need to use drugs?

Good question. Many started using at parties or purely recreational, but most of this group who initially experiment with drugs do not continue drug use in any serious way, they go on to live what you all would call good, normal lives. Some however continue to use to fill their chemical gap (like some anti-depressants), to manage physical pain, and/or to self-treat psychological trauma, often due to the long-standing stigmas against seeking mental health treatment. But the majority of drug users out there are really no different than those who use alcohol, pain medication, or anti-depressants. They work, raise kids, go to school, maybe even are grandparents. Many strive to eat well and exercise, and, contrary to negative stereotypes, some are very well-read and intelligent. Most of them are decent enough people, some are even good people, and fewer great people; kind of like the non-drug-using population.

We need to stop demonizing drugs and drug users, most especially marijuana users. We need to replace our out-dated attitudes of contempt and derision with compassion and support. Perhaps our money, manpower, and time would be better put to use on a national drug database: one that would keep track of crimes, drugs, and demographic information. Then we could begin to develop policy based on empirical evidence, not flawed mid-20th century prejudices. If and when such a database exist I’m pretty sure alcohol would come out at the top of the list for violent offenders, also for traffic fatalities, marijuana probably at the bottom of the list. How about all those wrong-way drivers on freeways? Alcohol or marijuana? Would be nice to be able to look up data and information on this, but my educated guess would be that the majority of wrong-way drivers are under the influence of alcohol driving home from a bar. Can you imagine the uproar there would be if marijuana smokers wanted to be to able to drive somewhere, smoke weed, and then drive home! So if empirical evidence showed that more violent crime and traffic accidents were the results of being under the influence of alcohol than marijuana, could alcohol drinkers become legally prohibited from owning a gun?

Matthew Holmes