“KEEP SAYING NO TO LEGAL MARIJUANA”: A letter to the editor by Police Chief Rodney G. Jones, Fontana, California.
On Nov. 2, Inland Empire voters sent a very strong message to those who support the recreational use of marijuana.
Legalizing marijuana endangers our children, our roads, and our financial stability. The proponents have vowed to bring this back again and again until they get what they want. I encourage our electorate to stay informed and continue the message they just sent them – not here, not now, not ever.
Proposition 19 would have legalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for anyone 21 years old or older. It would have allowed the same people to cultivate up to 25 square feet of marijuana. The state election results show it was rejected by nearly a 10 percent margin; 54 percent to 46 percent. However, the voters in the Inland Empire were more determined to reject this proposition. San Bernardino County rejected Proposition 19 59 percent to 41 percent and Riverside County rejected it 58 percent to 42 percent.
Legalizing marijuana is dangerous to our children. If you increase availability and societal acceptance, you will see an increase in usage by our children. In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court decriminalized the possession and use of marijuana within the privacy of one’s home. In 1990, the people of Alaska voted to recriminalize it. At that time usage by children in the 12-17 year range was 51 percent.
Marijuana is a gateway drug. People who experiment with it will frequently go on to other drugs. It is estimated that the risk of using cocaine is 104 times higher for people who have tried marijuana compared to those who have not. Using marijuana lowers inhibitions and exposes our children to a culture that encourages marijuana use and experimentation with other drugs.
Don’t be fooled by false information about the benign effects of marijuana.
Marijuana is a dangerous drug. It damages portions of the brain, especially in our youth. When smoked, it is bad on the respiratory system, leaving four times as much tar on the lungs compared to a filtered cigarette. It is bad for the heart. Marijuana increases your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. This deadly combination makes it five times more likely you will suffer a heart attack.
Marijuana is already causing an increase in traffic fatalities. Legalizing it would make things worse. Marijuana causes reduced coordination, distorts a sense of distance, causes hallucinations, panic, and depression.
Proposition 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act was passed January 2004. In the five years leading up to the passage there were 631 traffic fatalities where the driver was under the influence of marijuana. In the five years after Proposition 420 was passed, there were 1,240 of these fatalities. If medical marijuana doubled traffic fatalities for drivers under the influence of marijuana, wholesale legalization of marijuana would increase the number of innocent lives lost exponentially.
The argument that legalization would create a revenue stream for our state and local governments is without merit. Just a few months ago the Rand Corp. studied this very issue and determined that any potential financial benefit would be offset by the societal costs of legalization.
Alcohol is taxed and it generates about $9 billion in federal revenue and about $5.5 billion to the states. The loss to our country is roughly $185 billion because of the burden it places on health care and the criminal justice system. The same can be said for tobacco; raising about $25 billion in collected taxes, while costing our country about $200 billion annually.
We just celebrated Red Ribbon Week in our schools. During this time we encourage our children to “just say no” to drugs. We, as parents and guardians, need to do our part.
We sent a very strong message about marijuana legalization in this last election – not here, not now, not ever.
We need to make sure our representatives in Sacramento understand our position. Legalization of marijuana is dangerous for our children, our highways, and our economy. Just say no!