Letter: Vote No to keep cannabis regulated

Vote No to keep cannabis regulated

As we prepare to vote on Proposition 1 Oct. 3, some wonder, “Why shouldn’t we prohibit cannabis in our borough?” Yes, medical access, tax revenue and jobs may be damaged by prohibition; but does cannabis need to be permitted in our society?

As described in, “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” by Daniel Okrent (2011), the same questions were put forth regarding alcohol in 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect. While alcohol prohibitionists anticipated Americans would abstain from drinking and invest in more wholesome activities following the passage of prohibition, they were disappointed by numerous unintended consequences. Not only did the “moral” behavior of Americans decline, but the economic laws of supply and demand created a monstrous black market. Jobs in regulated saloons and breweries were lost, excise taxes disappeared, and the cost of enforcing new laws that were essentially unenforceable skyrocketed. People found loopholes for making, buying and selling alcohol. As illicit alcohol became more lucrative, quality declined and a public health crisis related to consumption of tainted booze ensued. Enforcement agencies were corrupted by bootlegging opportunities and bribes. Millions of Americans were made criminals, overwhelming courts and jails. Mobsters profited as blood was shed. Prohibition eroded respect for religion and the law, created organized crime and corruption, and promoted wild habits of excess and intemperance. Prohibition of alcohol bore such rotten fruit, that it was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment.

Cannabis prohibition has destroyed the productive lives of many who became entangled in the justice system for the victimless crime of possession; it has clogged prisons and turned “good” people into felons. Has prohibition ever improved human conduct? We have reached for forbidden fruit since the original sin in the Garden of Eden. It was love, grace, sacrifice, forgiveness, faith and connection that eventually brought salvation in that tale, not prohibition. As we look for ways to encourage and strengthen our children, we need to realize that prohibition fails to teach children alternative coping tools, and instead encourages secrecy and deceit that prevent honest conversation. Displacing destructive habits with healthy ones is a better way of curbing behavior, and it can be done with loving connection (through robust health education, a broad range of extracurricular activities, and ongoing conversations at home and school to teach decision-making skills). Parents have the responsibility of deciding what is best for their children.

The black market not only supplies consumers with untested, possibly tainted cannabis but exposes customers to dangerous substances like spice, meth, heroine, etc. Regulated cannabis in state-licensed retail outlets is tested for purity and labeled with information that helps guide medical users. Those licensed retail outlets are the only place medical cannabis can be legally purchased.

As a mother, grandmother, former school teacher, and concerned citizen, I want more for my family and community than a failed policy like prohibition. I am voting NO on Prop 1 Oct. 3 to keep cannabis regulated.

Ann Fraser