Common Freaking Sense on the Downside of Legalized Pot

January 14, 2014

Children are a magnifying lens for adult issues. The impact of legalized pot in Colorado may be minimal in the adult population. But its effects will be magnified through the children who are exposed to it, directly or indirectly.

Preschooler bagging marijuana

Preschooler Bagging Marijuana

The following are my letters to the editor addressing Amendment 64; the Colorado ballot initiative that would make the use and possession of pot a protected right in our state.

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Amendment 64 will not end the War on Drugs

I was astonished to see an ex-cop from Denver do a pro-Amendment 64 ad on the basis that the “war on drugs doesn’t work.” The fact is that the war on drugs will not go away just because using one illicit drug becomes a protected right. There will still be meth, cocaine, heroine, and scores of designer narcotics, pharmaceuticals, off the shelf substances and UNREGULATED POT that will come across the border and continue to spread in all parts of the country. LEGALIZING POT WILL NOT END OR EVEN PUT A DENT IN THE WAR ON DRUGS. That argument is another deceptive fallacy.

The first solution is to physically secure the border with Mexico and enforce current immigration law. Continue to do random searches vehicles coming from Mexico, and patrol the skies over the border. Allow border states like Arizona to enforce existing law and use technological innovations to secure their own borders.

Drugs in America are not a result of too much government. They are a symptom of a spiritual and moral crisis in our civil society. The War on Drugs will not end until the war against God and morality is ended and parents begin to model moral behavior, and governments begin to encourage religious practice by ending constraints on religion in public spaces.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

America needs a spiritual revival to address the problem of drugs in our homes, schools, and communities. Permissive laws that encourage the sale of destructive substances will only add to the moral crisis that is destroying us from within

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Standing United Against Amendment 64

In the closing days of the 2012 election season I want to add my voice to the chorus of individuals and groups in Colorado who oppose Amendment 64.  I’ve been heartened to see resolutions come out of our local Mesa County Valley School District 51 School Board as well as the Colorado Education Association and many local teachers unions and affiliations.

It’s no accident that those involved in education at the elementary and secondary levels are uniting against the amendment to legalize marijuana in Colorado. Amendment 64 would permanently alter the Colorado Constitution, making the possession and use of marijuana, with certain restrictions, a protected right in our state.  Supporters of the pot amendment tout its similarities to alcohol. One thing is sure; the law prohibits the use of alcohol by minors, but that doesn’t prevent some youth from obtaining it. The same would be true of pot legalized for the use of adults—the kids would still find a way.

Politically diverse parties have united against Amendment 64 in behalf of Colorado’s children. The social/emotional problems of students who are exposed to drugs and drug use in their homes are altering the landscape of our public education system.  Few teachers will talk about the additional services, such as informal counseling, intensive educational support, and a safe haven, they provide to children whose lives and learning are disrupted by drugs.  But there is a population of students whose parents lack the ability or will to properly care for their children because of substance abuse and addiction. In nearly all cases the addictive lifestyle began with marijuana.

Special Educators have a unique role in supporting children whose lives have been harmed by drugs. Some learning disabilities are the result of exposure to drugs, including marijuana, while in the womb.  Parents who are using are often unstable and place their children in stressful and dangerous situations. Children from such environments exhibit learning problems, anxiety, and social symptoms that result from the addicted lifestyle of their caregivers. One of the most noble acts of the modern educator is providing  a sense of safety and stability to children who are exposed to drugs at home, knowing that when they return home from school, that safety and stability may disappear.

Amendment 64 proponents have effectively deceived people from both ends of the political spectrum with arguments of “limited government” and “individual liberty.” The experiences of states like Alaska which have previously legalized marijuana, are proof that government does not shrink, but will grow as a result. The legalization and regulation of marijuana gives the government new taxing powers and requires the creation of new agencies to regulate the retail distribution of pot.

Drug-related crime—not possession arrests, but property and personal crimes—and traffic accidents will increase. Teen pot usage will increase, and the educational system in Colorado will be further burdened with higher drop-out rates and lower academic achievement.  The Military is already facing a numbers crisis with a dearth of new recruits. Potential recruits who have a history of drug use can be disqualified on moral grounds. Legalized marijuana will increase the number of disqualified recruits, adversely affecting  our military readiness.

Studies on marijuana use by teens have shown that those youths who choose to abstain usually do so because it’s illegal.  The law is important to our children. It informs the moral impulses of young people. The law should be an exemplar and teacher.

Children are a magnifying lens for adult issues. The impact of legalized pot in Colorado may be minimal in the adult population. But its effects will be magnified through the children who are exposed to it, directly or indirectly.  Marijuana use denigrates the moral culture of our communities. It weakens homes and families. It harms the ability of children to learn and function. Marijuana is a psycho-active drug that inhibits emotional development and cognitive functioning. It impairs memory and ambition in adults. And its intoxicating effects increase the potential for accidents on public highways and in the workplace.

Coloradans must ask themselves if they want their surgeons, nurses, pilots, teachers, childcare workers, mechanics, truckers, chefs, miners, or anyone upon whom they depend, to smoke pot before they come to work. Under Amendment 64, they will have the right to do so.

by Marjorie Haun  1/14/14

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