Ambivalent About Pot Laws
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Ambivalent About Pot Laws
Posted by CN Staff on December 08, 2009 at 18:14:27 PT
By Lori Pyter, Community Columnist
Source: Journal Sentinel 
Wisconsin -- The idea of legalizing marijuana has never been something I have seriously considered. More recently, as the issue of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in Wisconsin has become a realistic possibility, and one that I support, I began exploring the pros and cons more carefully. In this process, I learned that Wisconsin was actually the 33rd state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1982, although the statutes later were changed. I wonder why that happened.
Many experts believe that marijuana is no more harmful than other drugs that we legally use regularly, such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and some prescription medications. Many believe that when used in moderation, marijuana is actually less harmful, although that likely is true for just about everything.Others believe that marijuana is the stepping stone to hard drug use, including cocaine or heroin. Wisconsinites already have major problems with drunken drivers and alcohol-related tragedies, and I'm worried about compounding the dangers with stoned driving - not that this isn't happening already. I wonder just how many people are driving their kids to and from school under the influence of Valium, Xanax, Percocet and the plethora of mind-altering medications prescribed to millions. I'm not sure if, or how, marijuana is different from that.Our legal system is overwhelmed, and our prisons are filled with people convicted of crimes related to small-time marijuana possession. I most certainly want criminal behaviors to be addressed and appropriately punished. But I also wonder what effect there might be in terms of our legal and parole systems if marijuana were legal. I have to anticipate that court time and resources would be freed up for more serious crimes. With legalization, drug dealers would lose their business, the illegal trade competition, and the subsequence violence wouldn't be necessary anymore. That certainly sounds like a good thing.The tax revenue that could be generated from legalization likely would be tremendous. and I wonder what legalization would mean to the Food and Drug Administration. Think of the enormous sums that are pulled in with alcohol and tobacco alone. At the same time, I don't believe that making decisions solely on the basis of finances is a good idea in any situation.Overall, what I worry about most is our children and how legalization might affect the health and welfare of our greatest resource. I worry about how it might change the way adults parent, how available and responsive parents might be if they're using. I know that alcohol has most certainly changed the practices of many parents - and certainly not for the better.I don't know what the right answer is, and I'm ambivalent about the issue. But what I do know is that the declared war on drugs has been a massive failure. Our approach to dealing with drug and addiction issues, as well as legalization, needs some updating.I hope that we can look at our cultural beliefs, habits and legal guidelines and explore them thoughtfully, with the backing of science and evidence. That I am not ambivalent about at all.Lori Pyter of Germantown is a licensed psychologist. Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)Author: Lori Pyter, Community ColumnistPublished: December 8, 2009Copyright: 2009 Milwaukee Journal SentinelContact: jsedit onwis.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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