Rebutting A Failed Policy

thomas vance Published:

A letter I wrote to the members of the General Assembly regarding SB11 and legalizing marijuana in Kentucky garnered a reply from Kentucky House Speaker Mr. Greg Stumbo. In his reply he said we should keep our current policy because marijuana today is more potent and because adding marijuana as another legal recreational drug will add social damage to that suffered by our citizens already from alcohol and tobacco. Below is my reply:

Sir,

Thank you for your kind reply to my last letter to you regarding marijuana. I’ve been writing you all in the Assembly for about 6 years now to try to educate the Assembly members about marijuana and to convince you all that the end of marijuana prohibition will be extremely good for Kentucky in all three uses, medical, recreational and industrial.

You cited the potency of the marijuana grown today and the idea of introducing another recreational substance to our citizens which might cause more social damage than we already experience with alcohol and tobacco as your reasons for not supporting ending prohibition here in Kentucky.

Please allow me to address your concerns. As to potency, most marijuana users in other states where medical or now recreational marijuana use is allowed report just using less or more depending on the potency or situation. Wouldn’t the potency be regulated by the State if potency were a problem?

Marijuana like alcohol has industrial, medical and recreational uses. This is where the comparability ends. The terrible outcomes of alcohol use are not present when marijuana is used. Violence, abuse, traffic deaths, all these things the prohibitionists say will happen if we were to allow the citizens the freedom to use marijuana without penalty do not happen. I can say this with confidence because the proof is right before our very eyes.

Consider medical marijuana. Both California and Colorado have had medical marijuana laws in place for well over a decade. If the prohibitionists are to be believed, and both alcohol and marijuana are available to the citizens then all the harms from alcohol should be doubled. There should be double the violence, double the traffic accidents etc. etc. What has happened in these states? Nothing, nada. No increase in the supposed harms that we should be seeing. Medical marijuana was so bad for Colorado that last November they Voted by a wide margin to legalize marijuana for recreational uses. Are they stupid do ya think?

Yes marijuana is usually smoked like tobacco but like tobacco now days there are many ways of ingesting medical marijuana without smoking it. Electronic cigarettes come to mind where one inhales a mist of nicotine and no burning of tobacco is involved. The largest study ever done designed to link marijuana to lung cancer was done by a Dr. Donald Tashkin involving 2500 patients. It was originally supported by the Government however the result showed that regular marijuana users get head neck and lung cancers at the same rate as people who have never smoked anything at all. Dr. Tashkin said in his conclusion that marijuana seemed to act as a cancer preventer. (This is why there is so much hope about marijuana and cancer. This research should be being done here in Kentucky) The Government withdrew it’s support because by law, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the Government can only support research on marijuana that shows harm. The Drug Czar is forbidden to say anything positive about any drug listed as Schedule1. This is why everything the Government says about marijuana is circumspect.

You can find the facts about this subject by going to either NORML.org or MPP.org and click on library. Both sites have everything factually available on the subject both the good and the bad.

I called out to the Colorado office of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws to ask what Colorado Legislator there you could call to ask them directly how ten years of medical marijuana have helped or hurt their state. A nice woman named Rachel Gillette told me that you should talk to Congressman Jared Polis. No one knows about how marijuana has affected Colorado more than him. She also laughingly mentioned that one result since legalization is that marijuana use is down, not up. I called Congressman Polis’s Washington office and said I was going to suggest that you call him and they said they would be happy to take your call. The number is 1-202-225-2161. I thought if you could talk to another legislator you would get a different perspective than mine.

Congressman Polis D Colorado and Congressman Earl Blumenauer D Oregon have filed the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013. It would among other things transfer marijuana to the ATF and create a new Department of Alcohol Tobacco Cannabis and Firearms. You can access a copy of the bill at this link—

http://polis.house.gov/uploadedfiles/the_path_forward.pdf

Thank you again for writing. I hope I haven’t bored you but I am passionate about ending this mistake we call prohibition, a policy failure of huge proportions. If you have any questions about this issue please don’t hesitate to ask, I am at your service. Remember every year we wait to end medical and recreational marijuana prohibition we, by the laws of statistics, condemn 9090 of our fellow citizens to arrest and possible jail time solely because we weren’t ‘ready’ or ‘the time is not right’.

Please urge your fellow members of the Assembly to have compassion and at least pass SB11 so our sick and disabled citizens do not have to risk life and freedom for another year for using a medicine the citizens in 18 states can legally use.

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  • "Kentucky is the world's largest tobacco producer." This is a FALSE statement. Most sources will show we aren't even the United States largest tabacco producer, North Carolina is. Maybe you should do a little fact checking first... below is the beginning of an article from late 2010 when Commonwealth Brands, Inc. moved their facilities OUT of KY and into TN. (via www.PRnewswire.com) GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- After a search lasting over a year, Commonwealth Brands, Inc., the country's fourth largest tobacco manufacturer will be relocating its corporate office to Goodlettsville in Spring 2011.

  • Amen, to TVance and HaightAshbury. I have had two friends recently die with cancer and having marijuana caused them to suffer much less - and of that I am sure. However, they risked criminal action against them for ingesting natural organic marijuana - plus it had to be purchased "underground." Why? KY should permit medical marijuana PERIOD Until more legislators' families die horrible deaths without comfort from pot, our backward laws may not change unfortunately.

  • My father was a lobbyist for over 20 years. Two of the contracts he had were with an alcohol beverage company and a tobacco company. Stumbo sure didn't mind taken free meals and campaign donations from my father. If the reform act had money to hand out to legislators reelection funds...trust me, opinions would change. Until we raise money to influence Kentucky politics and form a strong "union" of reform voters, Kentucky will lag behind again in forward thinking progress.

  • My father was a lobbyist for over 20 years. Two of the contracts he had were with an alcohol beverage company and a tobacco company. Stumbo sure didn't mind taken free meals and campaign donations from my father. If the reform act had money to hand out to legislators reelection funds...trust me, opinions would change. Until we raise money to influence Kentucky politics and form a strong "union" of reform voters, Kentucky will lag behind again in forward thinking progress.

  • Cowboy, don't impose your preferences on everyone else. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean everyone else should have to do without.

  • I would imagine that the smoking of marijuana will be regulated as to where and when one can smoke it. Societal pressure is turning people away from tobacco and it will temper marijuana use just as well. Continuing to put people in jail has not worked.

  • I agree with both sides of the marijuana debate. However, I tend to lean towards the prohibition of marijuana. Despite all of the arguments for legalizing marijuana, I see one problem: how does our government and the society, in general, feel about cigarettes (tobacco)? For decades, now--especially since the Clinton era in the 1990s--we, in this country, have spoken-out against cigarette smoking. In fact, a person cannot smoke in a bar, in most cities, anymore. I can somewhat understand that in west-coast states, but not here, in Kentucky. Kentucky is the world's largest tobacco producer. A person can't smoke a cigarette in a bar or restaurant located in the capitol city of the largest tobacco producer?! I guess what I dislike the most about all this, is the double-standard. Also, a lot of comparisons are being made between marijuana and alcohol and tobacco. So, let's compare them. For example, you are in a bar (before the ban on cigarette smoking). I light-up a cigarette, you don't smoke, but you are getting the second-hand smoke. Also, I am drinking alcohol. You sit down next to me, and your body is being affected by the cigarette smoke, but not by the alcohol. Now, let's look at present-day. I am not allowed to smoke tobacco, because it is bad, bad, bad. Instead, I am smoking marijuana in this bar. You sit down next to me. Your body is still not affected by my alcohol consumption (you're not getting drunk just because I'm drinking alcohol), but you probably are getting a buzz from the marijuana I am smoking. Sure, it doesn't cause cancer, such as cigarettes--by the way, statistically speaking, by the time you leave the bar, you will not have cancer from my tobacco smoke. However, the second-hand marijuana smoke is having an adverse affect on you. What if you don't smoke marijuana, and don't like it at all? Well, too bad. If you want to be in that particular establishment, you have to be around it. Isn't that what we said for a very long time about tobacco smoke? Now, we say, no, you should not have to be exposed to it. It's okay to be exposed to marijuana, though. Regardless of the studies, it is still something you are putting into your body that should not be there. The only substance that needs to go into our lungs is the air we breath. Not tobacco smoke, not marijuana smoke. I've smoked it before, I know the effects, and if I wanted to be around it, now, I would be. However, I don't, so I don't want it legalized.