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Pot Clouds Political Judgment


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In your left hand you hold green, dried plant material ingested by many, recognized by state legislatures for its medicinal value, suitable for court diversion and appropriate for humor (recall how two state officials described a large quantity of marijuana as enough to keep a UVM fraternity happy for a year and then some).

Alas, the marijuana paradox: a dangerous, gateway drug, yet a substance suitable for a frat house joke. A substance consuming vast criminal justice resources with nearly 1,800 arrests in Vermont annually

Can anyone think of another area of criminal law for which so many people think the law itself should not exist?

Why the paradox? Why the contradictions? One word: politics. Marijuana has proven over the decades to have great political value as a wedge issue, separating users from those who benefit from distancing themselves from users. Whether the targeted groups were Latinos, African-Americans, musicians, hippies, young people or those addicted to other drugs, marijuana has served politicians well in an effort to divide the electorate. Does marijuana cloud our judgment? Absolutely.

What an evolutionary accomplishment: A plant that not only intoxicates those who ingest it, but also those who react to those who ingest it.

So, with what should we tackle the intoxicating influence of marijuana on users and politicians alike? Again, one word: truth.

As a society we have seen how truth can influence and support a decline in use of that most dangerous and addictive legal drug: tobacco. With truth we may fairly confront the problem of marijuana use and abuse, a problem that according to the 2007 Vermont Youth Risk Survey has resulted in 55 percent of Vermont high school seniors trying marijuana

As we enter this important political year with criminal justice and, perhaps, drug policy issues prominently featured, let us all try to avoid divisiveness, proselytizing, and demagoguery and focus instead on science, medicine, and truth. We owe that to ourselves.

Source: Ruthland Herald (VT)
Copyright: 2008 Ruthland Herald
Contact: letters@rutlandherald.com
Website: Rutland Herald: Rutland Vermont News & Information
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