Pubdate: Fri, 21 Mar 2014
Source: Barnstable Patriot, The (MA)
Copyright: 2014 Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Richard Elrick


Editor's note: The following was addressed to columnist Paul Gauvin 
and copied to the Patriot.

I hope you are well, but I fear you've been spending too much time in 
your other homeland  too much sun, perhaps ... I'm writing to 
heartily disagree with your anti-medicinal marijuana column [March 7].

I hate to tell you, Paul, but the 45-year drug war that was started 
by Nixon, jacked up by Reagan, and sadly, but robustly continued by 
Democratic presidents, has failed miserably to keep cannabis or any 
other drugs out of Cape Cod. The drug war, from the start, has been 
primarily driven by politics and the money of the prison-industrial 
complex, such that over the last decade it has became a larger 
lobbying entity than the teachers unions in California, and other states.

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved the medicinal use of 
cannabis because the evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, is 
clear that the use of marijuana is medically efficacious for a number 
of diseases and ailments - more effective, in many cases, than any 
other alternative. My god man, if doctors can prescribe morphine, 
they certainly ought to be able to prescribe marijuana medicinally.

By comparing opiates with cannabis you promote a silly and quite 
absurd comparison that the 48 percent of Americans who have tried 
cannabis know is obviously and completely false. Yes, cannabis can be 
abused, and I certainly don't believe children should use it for 
non-medicinal purposes. But the fact is, every credible shred of 
evidence shows that marijuana is less addictive and dangerous than 
tobacco and alcohol, and just about every other drug. In addition, 
there is no known level of toxicity from MJ. People aren't dying from 
"pot" overdoses like they are from opiates and alcohol, and even 
aspirin, for that matter. How can you defend continuing a policy that 
criminalizes the possession and use of a substance less dangerous 
than either alcohol or tobacco?

You decry the creation of a new "tax-free" business (medical 
marijuana), yet are opposed, apparently, to taxing and regulating the 
sale of cannabis - just like we do with alcohol.

You allude in your column to the recently captured Mexican drug 
king-pin, but you fail to acknowledge that he was able to do what he 
did, and make the money that he did, precisely because what he was 
selling was illegal! When alcohol prohibition was enacted in 1920, 
"alcohol king-pins" just like that Mexican neighbor of yours cropped 
up all over America.

Yes, in a sense, medical marijuana is a step toward legalizing 
cannabis. By seeing how relatively benign cannabis is, and that the 
state won't have fallen apart after medical marijuana became legal, 
citizens will be more likely to support the complete end of marijuana 
prohibition, replacing it with a policy of appropriate regulation and 
taxation. I expect the 2016 presidential election in Massachusetts to 
include a ballot question calling for legalization, and am optimistic 
it will pass. The tide has turned, Paul, and people are finally 
seeing the sad, painful, and unproductive results of the drug war. 
Americans, in ever-growing numbers, are saying enough is enough!

Be well, my friend, and watch out for that hot sun; it can do strange 
things to one's ability to think clearly.

Richard Elrick

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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom