Norton Lehner: Why to vote ‘No’ on Prop 64
Regarding the use of addictive substances, the population can be divided into three distinct groups:
Group A: Those who would never use the substance, legal or not.
Group B: Those who would use it, even if illegal.
Group C: The law-abiding folks who would use it if legal, but would not if illegal.
During Prohibition, alcohol use was confined to those in Group B. They were the ones, along with their families, who were affected by the debilitating side effects. The alcohol industry lobbied for the repeal of Prohibition. They were successful, opening up the market to not just Group B folks, but to those in Group C. Through advertising, the use of alcohol was glamorized. The industry’s profits skyrocketed. As a result, however, there are now about 100,000 alcohol-related deaths per year, and tens of billions of dollars in medical costs. The industry lacks the integrity to acknowledge the harm their product is responsible for.
With tobacco, the story is a little different. This addictive drug, though not illegal, carried a stigma with its use. The tobacco industry overcame that stigma with advertising that glamorized tobacco use, especially cigarettes. That opened up the market to all those who did not use tobacco because of the stigma. The industry’s profits skyrocketed, and now there are about 500,000 tobacco-related deaths each year, and tens of billions more dollars spent on medical care. Here, too, the industry lacks the integrity to acknowledge the harm their product causes.
We can expect a similar progression with marijuana. Currently it is illegal on a recreational basis, meaning only those in Group B are using the substance. The marijuana industry is fervently lobbying to legalize marijuana for recreational use. If successful, in other words if Proposition 64 passes in November, we can expect the industry to glamorize marijuana use through advertising, especially to the folks in Group C and our youth, and the industry’s profits will soar. As with alcohol and tobacco, prolonged use of the substance will eventually claim hundreds of thousands of lives a year. Tax revenues will be exhausted on medical care for the abusers, and the additional law enforcement cost, as the industry attracts organized-crime attention. It is evident that, as with the alcohol and tobacco industries, the marijuana industry is without conscience with respect to the well-being of the users and their families.
There is no reason to believe that the use of alcohol and tobacco will be reversed, even with the special labeling required by the government, and the TV campaign to discourage tobacco (and e-cig) use. The products are too well entrenched in our society.
With alcohol and tobacco, in the early days the medical research was incomplete, and the long-term effects were not well understood. The same is not true with marijuana. The science is clear: marijuana is an addictive drug with dozens of dangerous and potentially deadly side effects. That opinion is held by, among others:
— The Mayo Clinic, one of the most renowned medical research facilities in the U.S.
— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC and the Surgeon General warn that “Marijuana use is a major public health problem in the U.S.”
— The Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA recently declined to remove marijuana from its list of most dangerous and addictive drugs, a list that includes heroin, meth, LSD and ecstasy.
— The American Medical Association. The AMA recommends against smoked marijuana, even for medical use.
We have an opportunity with Prop 64. Defeating Prop 64 will limit the marijuana industry’s ability to market their product. The defeat of Prop 64 will eliminate the possibility of TV commercials glamorizing the product, and attracting the attention of our youth. The defeat of Prop 64 will confine marijuana use to the folks in Group B (and any of our youth that the industry can enlist). The defeat of Prop 64 will send the marijuana industry back to their illegal grows and attendant prosecution by law enforcement.
Will the defeat of Prop 64 eliminate the marijuana industry? No, but it will limit its influence on the citizenry of the state, avoid the rise in DUI fatalities experienced in Colorado and Washington, and help protect our youth from yet another plague.
Vote no on Proposition 64.
Norton Lehner lives in Grass Valley.
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