LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Separating myths from facts on marijuana

I am getting a little annoyed by so many people submitting false information by way of a Letter to the Editor, in order to intentionally mislead the public and our elected officials on some issue they care about. This time, I must write about “The Keep Delaware Safe and Healthy Coalition,” whose article printed on 6/11/17 [“Myths, fact regarding recreational marijuana”] is just full of false information! You should know the truth, irrespective of how you feel about legalizing marijuana.

They couch their arguments in the format of “myths” and “facts,” seeking to promote their agenda. The problem is, and it is a big one, that most of their “facts” are clearly, irrefutably, dead wrong! When we see that most of the members of this “coalition” are law enforcement officers, we can better understand why: They want to preserve their jobs by arresting, processing, and locking up people for marijuana! Other members include some reputable organizations that obviously did not check the “facts” espoused by whoever wrote the piece. And to that, I say “shame on them”!

Let us look at just a few examples:

1. They say “myth” = by legalizing marijuana, our prisons would not be overcrowded. Then, they say “fact” No one is in prison for smoking a joint, they say, and they point out that many of those incarcerated for pot are also sentenced on other charges. This is patently false and misleading! There are people in prison in Delaware – many – for simply possessing marijuana. I have gotten calls from their family members and seen their sentence orders!

All over America, we are wasting a fortune of your tax money with our current drug policies. Many people are in prison for having a “roach” in their car ashtray!

The best reasonable estimates are (nobody can know the precise numbers) that as many as half of all federal inmates are in for nonviolent drug offenses, with one-eighth serving time for violating marijuana laws! That alone is about 12,000 people. Yet, illegal drugs are available on street corners in every town in America.

2. They say “myth” If pot were legalized, the state would make a lot of money. Then, they say “fact” and argue that Colorado is not benefiting from the funds raised by pot legalization. Balderdash! Many of their statements are vague and cannot be substantiated at all, such as: “Nearly all revenue brought in from marijuana sales in Colorado goes towards the bureaucratic infrastructure needed to oversee the program and to increased law enforcement to address increased dangers on the road.” Worse, they then suggest that, overall, Colorado is losing money, not making money! Hogwash!

They can’t prove what they say because it is FALSE. For example, in Colorado, $40 million comes “right off the top” of tax revenue to benefit schools! I could go on and on, accurately debunking the letter in question, but space does not allow me to address every falsehood they put forth. On this issue, see these two articles:

http://www.9news.com/news/where-does-all-that-colorado-pot-tax-go/298554132

Colorado’s 2015 Marijuana Tax Results: $135 Million, $35 Million Going to Schools

In addition, the authors of the grossly misleading piece do not mention the benefits of the tens of thousands of new jobs created by legalization! More than 10,000 new jobs in Colorado alone! See http://naturalsociety.com/colorados-marijuana-legalization-creates-10000-new-jobs/

3. They say that illegal pot sales account for 70 percent of all marijuana sales in Oregon. False I can find no such statistic, and they cite no sound source for this number “plucked from the air”! I have read the report by the Oregon State Police, mentioned by the deceivers, and a) it equivocated on its numbers, b) nowhere does it say 70 percent, and c) because Oregon grows much more pot than can be consumed in-state, most of the illegal pot is shipped out-of-state!

Moreover, the letter writers ignore the very real benefit that legalization enables people to buy pot in a safe environment (no shootings or stabbings in “drug deals gone bad”) and far away from “pushers” who may be selling heroin and other drugs!

The black market for pot, and other pot problems, always will exist, but the fact remains that any way you slice it, any way you analyze the real benefits/problems, the truth is that legalization is far preferable to the old policies which have failed for 40 years! That is why the majority of states now have legalized marijuana in some form, and why Delaware should be the next.

Ken Abraham
Deputy Attorney General, 1974 -1979
Founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE
Dover

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