Why Reading PA Should Decriminalize Small Amounts of Marijauna
Cannabis has been used by human beings for thousands of years, long before we ever came up with the slang term marijuana to demonize both the plant and its consumers. Long before we decided its use is a ‘crime’. By definition a crime is a ‘violation of a law in which there is injury to the public or a member of the public’. Not only is cannabis not harmful to the individual who consumes it, nor to the public at large, in fact its use is beneficial to the wide majority who use it, whether they are using it under the guidance of a medical program or through self medication.
Cannabis is non-toxic, there has never been a single overdose death, and it is not physically addictive. For the rare instance that someone becomes psychologically dependent, I have to wonder why even that is ‘criminal’. The top 10 addictions are typically listed as alcohol, tobacco, prescription and illicit drugs, gambling, video games, shopping, sex, the internet, food and work. With the exception of drugs, which is typically listed third, none of these addictions are considered crimes. Why the double standard? People who suffer from any type of addiction need help, not to be burdened and harmed further by being saddled with the consequences of being labeled as a criminal.
In addition, while marijuana has never killed anyone, Spice or K2 has. It has become the drug of choice for many who are subjected to drug testing and/or falsely believe that because it is promoted as ‘synthetic marijuana’ that it is safe. And it most definitely is not. Decriminalizing marijuana will have a positive effect in reducing deaths from this dangerous alternative.
I am a mother, so I definitely understand the argument that decriminalizing marijuana is akin to condoning its use. I understand it, but whole heartedly disagree with it. Every parent has a duty to instill in their children the principles of responsibility and morality that will guide them towards the best possible future. No mother wants to see their child engaging in reckless behavior, and equally no parent wants to see their child’s potential for the future destroyed by being labeled a criminal. A very large majority of youth have used marijuana at least once. Their ability to get student loans for college, to find a job and suitable housing should never come down to whether or not they got caught.
Then there is the economic and social impact for implementation of a failed policy. Decriminalization will have a positive impact both in the cost savings of not running people the court system for possession of a small amount of marijuana as well as providing funding for either drug and alcohol education programs or any other program council and law enforcement deem appropriate.
Decriminalizing will free law enforcement to focus on actual crime. It will also allow law enforcement to better build a positive relationship with their community. When I was a child, I was taught to seek out the police should I ever need assistance, I was raised to believe law enforcement is on my side. Unfortunately, many now teach their children to avoid any interaction with law enforcement. They are no longer viewed as friends of the community. This needs to change. Police need to be respected. When citizens no longer look at officers as being in the community to arrest them for a petty drug offence and start seeing them as being there to protect and serve a more mutually beneficial relationship will emerge.
Despite the endless unsubstantiated claims otherwise, cannabis is not a gateway way drug to harder more harmful drugs. It is the gateway to only one thing….the criminal justice system.
The simple fact of the matter is, whether you use it or not, approve of it or not, marijuana has always been a part of our culture. After more than 8 decades of attempting to arrest our way out of it, there are no less marijuana today then there was 80 years ago. Prohibition deters no one from its use. After all this time as a rational society we have no choice but to admit that cannabis prohibition is an utterly failed policy. It is time for it to end.
Mayor Scott said in the Reading Eagle (in regards to speaking to other mayors that have deriminalized ) that he wouldn’t ask their opinions on the ordinances since they don’t follow state or federal laws.
He said “Regardless of what the others are doing, I don’t think we should be looking at people who are basically making laws that are breaking laws,”
This is extremely disappointing to me and I couldn’t disagree more. This country has seen many an unjust, immoral law that needed eliminating or changing. The idea that a law must be followed simply based on the fact it’s a law is somewhat shortsighted and absurd. PA is moving towards statewide decriminalization, as it should. But the wheels of state government move slowly. Those cities and their Mayors that have decriminalized are not basically making laws that are breaking laws. They are ending the collateral damage and unintended consequences of a failed policy as we await the state to do the right thing. They are making laws that put their constituents and community first. I strongly urge Reading to so the same.