Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jan 2009
Source: Berkshire Eagle, The (Pittsfield, MA)
Copyright: 2009 New England Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Edward Parsons


I am concerned about the tone in your front page article concerning the new
rules for marijuana following the overwhelming passage of Question 2
("Answers few on Question 2," Eagle, Jan. 3.) The article quotes District
Attorney David Capeless, who fought hard against Question 2, but no one who
fought to protect young people found with an ounce or less of marijuana from
a permanent criminal record. The article seemed to me to promote the bias of
those opposed to Question 2. Specifically, the article states, "Advocates of
the relaxed law claim it erases the criminal stain of being caught with
small amounts of it (critics claim) it sends a mixed message about drugs,
especially to youth, and also may help smart drug dealers, who likely will
figure out ways to avoid criminal prosecution by carrying smaller quantities
of marijuana."

There are two basic fallacies with this statement. First, of course,
is about the drug dealers being more careful. The drug dealers - the
real criminals - come to Berkshire County from Springfield, Boston,
Albany and New York City. They bring marijuana by the pound or kilo.
They already cut it up into one ounce bags which get sold on the
street. The kids are not the drug dealers.

But the more basic fallacy is the bias that marijuana is a gateway
drug to the use of other drugs. Any therapist will attest to this
being untrue; our experience is that a handful of pot smokers

become "potheads" (smoking pot every day) but a vast proportion of
young people smoke marijuana occasionally, or have simply given it

Further, the gateway to other drugs comes not from marijuana, but from
bad socio-economic conditions, hanging out with a bad crowd, or, and
significantly, from well-meaning but addiction-ignorant physicians,
who prescribe Percocet, Ativan and Xanax like candy. The principal
resource text for the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM),
"Principals of Addiction Medicine," Third Edition, 2003, by Graham,
Shultz, Mays-Smith and Ries & Wolford, states on page 261, "Cannibus
(marijuana) use typically precedes involvement with other drugs such
as stimulants, yet there is no scientific evidence of a
neurobiological basis for such a 'gateway' effect."

We should be grateful for passage of Question 2 so that kids caught
with an ounce or less of pot will not end up with a permanent criminal

Edward Parsons

Great Barrington
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