Ca: ‘reefer madness’ mentality persists

mapinc / 5/21/2011 / By Andy McIntosh, Source: North County Times

Future generations will look back at us as idiots for this war on drugs, the same way we mocked the Roaring Twenties prohibitionists," said retired Sutter County Deputy Sheriff Nate Bradley in response to my May 15 column, "Time to put medical pot issue behind us."

While the thrust of that column was to shine a light on the failure of lawmakers to reconcile Proposition 215 —- California’s 1996 Compassionate Use Act, which legalized the use of medical marijuana —- with the official state’s "Reefer Madness" attitude towards law enforcement, reader feedback has firmly come down on the side of outright legalization of marijuana, never mind medicinal use. The arguments in favor are compelling.

"Reefer Madness," the 1936 cult classic about the evils of weed, is available on DVD and remains the definitive joke against America’s War on Drugs. Its cover proclaims, "With just a little toke, average teenagers become addicts turning into psycho killers and brazen hussies."

It is this false premise that defeated Proposition 19, a voter initiative to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in California, in last November’s election, and it is the fundamental inability of lawmakers to reconcile Prop. 215 with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 that creates ongoing conflicts between legal dispensaries of medical marijuana and local police.

And yet, the larger issue speaks directly to the de facto futility of America’s war on marijuana. As I suggested last week, the only winners of this war are the drug cartels who manage supply and the justice system that prosecutes it.

Retired Superior Court Judge James Gray is just one of hundreds of advocates in law enforcement who admit the war on marijuana has been a total failure.

On the web site, "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition," Gray writes, "Drug Prohibition has resulted in a greater loss of civil liberties than anything else in the history of our country … The USA leads the world in the incarceration of its people, mostly for non-violent drug offenses. … The War on Drugs has contributed substantially to the increasing power, bureaucracy, and intrusiveness of government."

Or, as retired Deputy Bradley put it, "the war on drugs provides job security" to those in law enforcement.

Regardless, "Reefer Madness" mentality persists despite research to the contrary.

In a 2010 study of crime taking place within 1,000 feet of Denver Colorado’s 258 licensed marijuana dispensaries, statistics revealed a 3.7 percent drop in crime in areas where dispensaries had an open/commence date between December 2008 and December 2009. Outside this parameter, crime increased on average 1 percent.

Readers ideologically opposed to legalizing marijuana —- either outright, or at least by allowing Prop. 215 to operate unfettered

need to research just how damaging the war on marijuana has been to our society.

"Reefer Madness" has nothing to do with smoking a joint and everything to do with the way in which we prosecute, incarcerate and stigmatize users of this plant.

MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.