Prop. 19: Vote Yes for public safety
Let me start by saying that I am not a lifelong marijuana activist. In fact, I spent many years as a police officer arresting drug users, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the harms that drugs cause our society.
But it was my experience policing the streets that showed me how much our current prohibition of marijuana harms society and puts our children at risk.
Prop. 19, the marijuana legalization initiative on California’s ballot this November, will actually reduce the easy access to marijuana our children currently have. Drug dealers don’t check ID. They don’t care if your child is 13 years old or 30 years old. It’s all about money.
These criminals also hire children to sell marijuana in our schools. Do you know what is not sold in our schools? Age-regulated alcohol. But don’t just take my word for it. Ask any cop you know how often they come across alcohol being sold on school grounds compared to marijuana.
A recent study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has some startling results about teens and drugs.
In their study, they found that 40 percent of teens could get marijuana within a day; another quarter said they could get it within an hour. In another portion of the survey, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 say it’s easier to get marijuana than buy cigarettes, beer or prescription drugs.
In contrast, look at Holland, where retail marijuana sales have been tolerated since 1976. They have 50 percent less use among their youth and adults than we do here in America.
“Legalization” took the mystique away from the drug. The Dutch minister of health said it was because they have succeeded in making pot “boring.” And that’s something the U.S. won’t be able to do as long as we keep marijuana “illegal.”
And, if we choose to regulate marijuana like alcohol, we will have the opportunity to take control away from the violent criminals who control the illegal market, just like we did when we ended alcohol prohibition 77 years ago and took control of the alcohol market away from mobsters and thugs.
Does this mean I want everyone and their mother getting high? Of course not. As a law enforcement veteran, I am very concerned about the current levels of drug abuse in our state.
To reduce drug use, I believe we should take the same approach for cannabis that we did for tobacco. According to the State Board of Equalization, in 2009 the number of cigarette packs sold in the state fell to 972 million – down from 2.8 billion in 1980.
That is a 66 percent reduction in tobacco consumption without having to arrest, prosecute or jail one adult for possessing cigarettes.
We accomplished this by strict taxing and regulation coupled with a massive anti-smoking ad campaign. Right now legislation is being written at the state capitol to regulate and tax marijuana at the state level should Prop. 19 pass.
Under legalized regulation, we can finally educate people on the real harms of smoking marijuana instead of parroting the propaganda that has so obviously failed in the past.
When you go to the polls in November, remember that a No vote on Prop. 19 will leave the current dangerously failed system in place and maintain the status quo. Our children will still have easy access to marijuana and the drug dealers that currently profit by selling marijuana to our children will continue to control the market.
I would encourage every parent who reads this to vote Yes on Prop. 19 because a system where we regulate and control marijuana is much safer than the chaos and crime we have now under marijuana prohibition.
Nate Bradley, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com), is a former police officer with the City of Wheatland.
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