To the editor:
In a public statement on Feb. 15, state Rep. Edith Ajello and Sen. Joshua Miller announced their plan to submit legislation to legalize marijuana. They correctly cite the current failure of marijuana policy and the increase statewide in marijuana use among our youth, and it’s ready availability.
They fail, however, to point to the state cuts in drug prevention funding and the passage of the Medical Marijuana Bill, increasing use due to the ease in getting doctor signed permission slips from the state Department of Health. Our state is inundated with marijuana, legal and illegal. Legalization will not prevent illegal drug sales. Users will seek out the least-expensive source.
Proponents claim the time has come for legalization because attitudes have changed. Uninformed attitudes should not be a basis for legalization. Marijuana contains more carcinogens than ordinary tobacco. Marijuana is deadly for young people, impacting brain development. It saps initiative and motivation and is as much an impediment to safe driving as alcohol.
Legalizing marijuana is just the latest revenue-producing bill, full of justification and promises, but really the bottom line is refilling the general fund in an election year, and we’ll deal with the consequences later. Voting legislators need hard data on the impact legalization has had on crime and the social climate of Colorado before voting to bring this to a small state like Rhode Island. Sadly, because of the time invested in this issue, legislators will once again bypass any serious consideration to bills that would help our state become economically stable.
Legalizing marijuana is just another crisis waiting to happen. As members of our respective communities we have an obligation to be concerned for the future of our young people, as citizens of the U.S. we have an obligation to be aware that none of our nations enemies are looking for ways to anesthetize their citizens.