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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Legalizing Pot

The Seattle Channel will be airing a show about marijuana policy on Friday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m. Two members of the panel are Chemical Dependency Professionals, Kelly Kerby and Gary Hothi, who will be talking about how decriminalizing/legalizing marijuana would affect young people and youth substance abuse prevention efforts. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and a representative from the ACLU will be talking about the merits of decriminalizing/legalizing marijuana.

Seattle Channel is channel 21 on Comcast and Millennium but the program can also be seen at:

http://www.seattlechannel.org/cityinsideout"

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a loaded topic.

Here in Seattle there seem to be so many people in favor of legalization. You'd get the feeling that only some stodgy old fart could possibly see things differently.

Well folks, how do you think legalization will affect "young people and youth substance abuse prevention"? Here's the formula:

1) Every single user who currently uses marijuana while it's illegal will continue to do so when it's legal. It would be remarkably stupid to think otherwise.

2) Making it legal will increase access and reduce penalties. So of course there will be more use. Teens and younger will have new channels that don't include dark alleys and secret handshakes. Yes, that's a little over the top, but you know what I mean.

This math is simple. No losses + Some gains = Higher use. That's enough for me to vote no.

Is there any reason why we want like to encourage our teens and kids to be engaging in more of this kind of activity? There are so many thoughtless people that seem to think this is so great for adults, but not for kids. But who do you think the kids learn from?!

If you haven't seen families ripped apart by either drug or alcohol abuse, then either you haven't lived long enough or you live in denial. Or both. But hey, we're in Seattle, the land of the selfish and self-righteous, so I'm just wasting my breath.

Anonymous said...

It is indefensible to legalise alcohol and cigarettes but prohibt other drugs, esp. when you look at the prohibitive costs "law enforcement" costs - because all the extreme costs of drug-related crime and many diseases would vanish if drug use were out in the open.

dan dempsey said...

Here is a reality check from Needham Mass.,which is a suburb of Boston.

It comes from Results of the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey.
You can get the Survey for Middle School and High School HERE: by clicking on the last two Reports 2009.

a..MWAHS HIgh School Executive Summary
b..MWAHS Middle School Executive Summary
===================
For High Schoolers

Drove a car when you
had been drinking
(past 30 days)* = 12%

Rode in a car driven by
someone who had been
drinking (past 30 days) = 21%

Episodic heavy drinking
(5 or more drinks in a row
in the past 30 days) = 25%

Alcohol use on school
property (past 30 days) =4%

Current alcohol use
(past 30 days) = 43%

=========================

Lifetime misuse of prescription drugs = 7%

Lifetime steroid use Current = 3%

marijuana use (past 30 days) = 24%

Lifetime marijuana use = 33%

Lifetime heroin use = 3%

Lifetime methamphetamine use = 3%

Lifetime ecstasy use = 3%

Lifetime cocaine use = 4%

Lifetime inhalant use = 8%

===========================

Note that Current Marajuna use = 24%

and Episodic heavy drinking = 25%

Comments about "The Economist's" thinking follow.

dan dempsey said...

The Economist had a special issue a few years ago on drug use. It looked at lots of data from developed nations and concluded the more restrictive the drug laws the more drug use occurred.

They explained this as follows:

Restrictive drug laws create an excellent climate for "Entrepreneurial success" via the marketing and sale of a highly profitable product.

The nations with the most restrictive drug laws had the most robust organizations marketing their products successfully.

Switzerland had noticed this and acted on the information some years earlier. They made drugs easily available through goverment outlets at cost. Driving the drug industry out because their business model could not compete with the Gov.'s model.

Since there was no longer aggressive marketing of the product use fell, and property crime as well. The court's had less business. The Swiss then offered increased and more effective free rehab, which was easily afforded as the expensive to deliver "jail time" and "court procedures" were eliminated.

In short the conclusion was if you are really really really against drug use then legalize it "Swiss Style" and watch drug use plummet.

Patrick said...

none1111, I don't agree with your point 2. Pot dealers now will happily sell to teenagers because they have no license to lose if they are caught doing it. It's harder for teens to get liquor than it is pot.

Sell it through the state liquor stores and legalize possession for adults. Drive the black market out of business. Some teens would still get it, but not more than get it now. Drub rehabilitation could be fully funded from taxes on it, instead of terribly underfunded as they are now.

For that matter, after prohibition ended alcohol use actually declined. It lost its forbidden allure. So point 1 is not necessarily true either.

Anonymous said...

Patrick said: "Pot dealers now will happily sell to teenagers because they have no license to lose if they are caught doing it. It's harder for teens to get liquor than it is pot."

Ridiculous. Existing dealers selling pot will not bother with a license, and could hardly care less about any legitimacy to what they do. That's the point. Some will quit, but not all. Legalization would very likely reduce the street prices, which would simply mean less profits back down the chain all the way to the growers. But unless the state was willing to sell at a loss, things would equalize.

But Dan makes a far more interesting point, next post.

As for the common myth (joke) that it's harder for teens to get alcohol than pot, take a look in your fridge. Or liquor cabinet. Most households have plenty of alcohol sitting around, readily accessible to kids and teens. Because it is legal and societally acceptable, it's everywhere. Not locked up or managed in any significant way. It may be hard for kids to BUY a new bottle of whiskey or get a keg, but it's trivial to find a friend with open access to booze right at home.

Anonymous said...

Dan said: "Since there was no longer aggressive marketing of the product use fell, and property crime as well. The court's had less business. The Swiss then offered increased and more effective free rehab, which was easily afforded as the expensive to deliver "jail time" and "court procedures" were eliminated."

This is probably the most reasonable argument with actual data I've seen in favor of legalization.

We're not talking about the same demographics, but I didn't dig deep to see if there was something closer to what we have here in the U.S., i.e. very diverse populations with large pockets of high poverty. It doesn't negate what happened in Switzerland though.

I do think that in the future at some point we will see pot legalized in this state, unfortunately. So then what? How far do we take it? We can say the exact same thing about ecstasy and heroin. If we legalize it and make it cheap and readily available, then the black market will shrivel up. But no one is clamoring for that to happen, so people in Seattle (and various other areas in the U.S.) are making a judgement call about the level of danger with different drugs. Given the very real progression that drug use takes (when it does), that seems dangerous.

While I believe it's worth looking at what happened in Switzerland, I also believe it sends a bad message to our youth. Maybe it's worth it, but I'd rather somewhere else here in the U.S. was the guinea pig.

Chris S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris S. said...

"Maybe it's worth it, but I'd rather somewhere else here in the U.S. was the guinea pig."

Funny, that's exactly how I feel about RTT. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Chris S. said...

And yes, maybe I do think Arne's been smokin somthin.

Patrick said...

none1111 said: "But unless the state was willing to sell at a loss, things would equalize."

No, pot now sells at far more than it would cost to produce, distribute, and tax as a legitimate businesses. Everyone all along the line has to be paid extra to compensate them for risking getting caught. They have to work inefficiently in order to hide the operation. They need to bribe people to look the other way. They may have armed struggles with other gangs for market turf. With all those expenses, the state could easily undercut their prices.

How many people kept making and distributing liquor illegally after prohibition was repealed? Practically none, because liquor can be manufactured in a large-scale above-board quality-controlled operation, instead of bootlegged or made in a basement.

There is alcohol available in homes, and a teen might take enough for him/her self. But most parents would notice if they took enough to supply a party. (Wouldn't they?)

dan dempsey said...

If drugs are sold at actual production cost by the state there will be ZERO drug dealers.

I think the Swiss system needs further investigation into the actual nuts and bolts of what drugs they sell at cost and what kinds of restriction there are on use.

Example if they sell heroine at cost do you need to use it in a room provided by the government at time of sale? In other words it cannot be taken off the premises. That certainly would stem a distribution problem of Gov. Heroin use by teens.