Pubdate: Thu, 20 Mar 2008
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2008 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Carl Hedberg


When I ventured up to Concord earlier this year to testify in favor of
decriminalizing marijuana in the state, I invited my 12-year-old
daughter to come along. She and her sister are home-schooled, and it
seemed like an excellent opportunity for a civics lesson.

She listened to the many articulate and well-reasoned arguments in
favor of HB 1623 and saw that the opposition put forth just two
relatively unprepared speakers -- one from the attorney general's
office and one representing the interests of the police chiefs.

As we were leaving, my daughter sparked smiles in the full elevator by
proclaiming that the measure would have to pass, since the speakers in
favor of the bill were so much better prepared than the mumbling
opposition with crinkly notes. On the way home, I explained that if
members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee were to
base their votes on the testimony they heard, the measure would indeed
have their support.

But because their views are based instead on entrenched and largely
false notions about cannabis, they were not likely to be swayed by any
amount of fact-based testimony.

Although the House of Representatives has taken the bold step of
passing the measure, it is already being called dead on arrival in the
Senate. If it passes that hurdle, the governor will surely uncap his
veto pen because he feels that relaxing penalties for simple
possession of marijuana "sends absolutely the wrong message to New
Hampshire's young people about the very real dangers of drug use."

My older daughter raises a brow. Her confusion is understandable,
since as home-schoolers, they get their messages not from the
government but from responsible parents and mentors.

Marijuana is but one of many temptations she and her sister will face
along the way -- temptations that warrant their staunch rejection, at
the very least, until they have physically matured. Once they reach
adulthood, they will be free to make reasoned decisions about what
substances they may put in their bodies. Or will they? As adults in
America, they will be free to get themselves hopelessly addicted to
tobacco, and they will be free to poison themselves with alcohol.

But as an adult citizen, if they use cannabis tincture to quell
premenstrual discomfort the way Queen Victoria did, they will risk
losing their rights and freedoms.

My daughters know that last year we spent over $40 billion fighting
the war on cannabis and that over 800,000 Americans were arrested for
the victimless crime of simple possession. They also know that
although no one has died from an overdose, cannabis is not a substance
children should experiment with.

These parental messages are guided by facts and credible testimony
available in print, in documentaries and online. There are already
lots of online sites that convincingly refute drug war proclamations
about cannabis, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, The
Science of Medical Marijuana, Marijuana-Uses and Vote Hemp.

The message to my fellow citizens is it is up to you to first avail
yourselves of the truth about cannabis, and then be willing to either
take direct action, or at least elect informed officials who have the
conviction and courage to push against these laws that waste obscene
amounts of our tax dollars, and more importantly, are far more harmful
to users than the plant itself.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Carl Hedberg is a board member of the New Hampshire
Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy (, an
advocacy group seeking decriminalization of cannabis.

Carl Hedberg,

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