Will Wooton: Legalizing pot won’t unburden legal system

By Will Wooton

My prediction is that we will live in a state that someday will decriminalize not only the use of “medical” marijuana, but also its recreational use. I have watched this battle unfold for a decade with both sides doing a better job of misinforming the general public then actually giving a sound argument.

Will Wooton

To me, this is such a vital issue. When asked, I discuss it in groups, parent forums, counseling sessions and with people on the street. I receive more emails asking “What is wrong with marijuana?” than any other topic and am sent links to pro-legalization websites and challenged with statistics about why marijuana is not bad. This is such a long topic I will break down my view into two articles so I can address each point.

Again and again I hear the same few arguments: marijuana is natural, it’s a plant or it’s organic. Now we could split hairs how something so genetically crossbred and engineered to raise potency levels of THC is in any way natural or that organic crops are certified by private agencies through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that no agency will do this for marijuana.

What is being implied is that if you claim something is natural, it somehow makes it sound less harmful. It must be safe because it’s a plant. Arsenic, atropine, strychnine, cyanide and thallium are all natural yet very deadly. The natural defense just doesn’t mean much when, by the standards set, cocaine and heroin can be listed as natural too.

Criminalization of marijuana lands millions of people in prisons every year just for smoking it. In researching this, I found the answer is not black and white. There are actually very few people who are in prison for only marijuana. With over two million Americans in prison, what are the actual rates for marijuana sentences? According to my online research, the total number of state inmates doing time for any drug offense with a prior conviction is 83 percent. Basically, the large majority committed crimes in the past and nearly two-thirds of them (62 percent) had multiple prior convictions.

• First time drug offenders equals 3.6 percent of all state inmates.

• Offenses involving marijuana equals 2.7 percent of all state inmates.

• Prisoners held for marijuana only equals 1.6 percent of all state inmates.

• Prisoners held for marijuana possession only equals 0.7 percent of all state inmates.

• First time offenders held only for marijuana possession equals 0.3 percent of all state inmates.

These clearly are not the numbers that the legalization movement is talking about when they say that there are 86.5 marijuana arrests every hour in this country. Yes, that may be a number that is real, but it is misleading. If someone steals a car and is arrested for that car theft and marijuana, I don’t believe it is fair to list that person as a causality of the federal marijuana laws. You can’t solely point out just the drug arrest and omit that they have priors and may be on parole for other crimes. You can be sentenced just for marijuana but, as the numbers point out, only 0.3 percent of inmates are incarcerated for only that with no prior record. Many of 3.6 percent are individuals that were arrested for selling or trafficking very large amounts, not for their personal use.

I don’t believe that making marijuana legal will somehow free millions of marijuana smokers and unburden our legal system.

(Part 2 in two weeks.)

Wooton is director of Pacific Treatment Services and co-author of “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink.” PTS is a substance abuse company working with teens and young adults. Website: www.PacificTreatmentServices.com.

Short URL: http://www.pomeradonews.com/?p=32180

Posted by Staff on Jan 16 2013. Filed under Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

79 Comments for “Will Wooton: Legalizing pot won’t unburden legal system”

  1. 650,000 marijuana arrests last year in the US alone.

    And this guy doesn't see that as a burden on the system, or the good people that get caught by bad people with one of natures oldest recorded herbs and medicines that has grown native in every states since before any of us were born.

    Marijuana, zero toxicity rate yet more people get arrested for using it more than any other one single crime in the name of 'saving us'. It's total balderdash..

    • Gerome

      "more people get arrested for using it more than any other one single crime " — I have some land I would like to sell you… did you know that travel is the largest industry in the world and is only growing?

      just plain ignorant.

  2. allan

    really?

    not a burden? those 650,000 (I believe it’s higher than that by 200,000 but why split hairs eh) arrests require an hour or two of LE time. At $50/hr (+ or – a bit) we’re up to $30+ million just spent on processing those arrests. Money many might say would be better spent on police chasing real crime. You know… rape and assaults, property thefts… real crime.

    And maybe Will can explain where exactly the “crime” comes in a private citizen privately consuming a plant (semi)easily grown in their gardens. Surely it can’t be the danger factor. Cannabis really has no fatal overdose potential. Not even water can claim that. In 1988 the DEA’s own administrative law judge, the late Francis Young called cannabis “one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man.”

    Richard Nixon appointed PA’s former Republican governor, Raymond Shafer to lead the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. The commission recommended, at minimum, decriminalization. As did the US Army when it studied pot use in Panama in the 1930s. As did New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia ‘s study done in the early ’40s. As did judge Young’s study from 1988.

    And if Will uses the “but it’s against the law” argument then I say let’s look at that. Was the prohibiting of pot based on science or any kind of factual data? No. Racism and lies, xenophobia and fictional horror stories is what underlies the plant’s banning.

    So please, Will, explain to me (an open consumer of cannabis) what crime I am committing in consuming pot.

    • Feels bad for you

      You use the term plant as a shield to deflect the idea that its harmful. Allan what's wrong with your life? Why don't you like who you are? If you were a happy person I can't see why you'd be so focused on altering how you feel or your emotions. Will smoking pot kill you. No. Not smoking pot alone but there is more to live then walking around running from your feelings.

  3. Delbert

    Sorry Will, I'm usually with you. However I think you've missed the boat on this one.

  4. Servetus

    Legalization of marijuana will free up significant resources for use in other areas of crime fighting. The percentages mentioned may be small, but the numbers are big, which may be why percentages were used instead of the numbers, eh?

    Legalization means that a trip to jail (or prison) won’t be needed for being in possession of marijuana. It means no criminal records. And no demoralizing and radicalizing exposure to a justice system devoid of justice.

    Legalization means that the overburdened drug treatment industry will have plenty of space for people having real problems with real problem drugs. Or will that be a buzzkill for profits in the treatment industry? As it will be for the drug testing industry?

    Is that a problem?

    • Greg

      Legal drugs cause just as much of a problem as federally classified illegal drugs. your statement is delusional and leads me to think you might be paranoid about the "treatment industry" having some grand scheme with law enforcement. Relax, digest the facts, maybe take a break from the pipe.

  5. Amy Roost

    Did I miss your column that advocated for the criminalization of wine? Alcohol, but any objective standard, is more harmful than pot. Also, if we treated drug addiction (which does not include pot unless we're talking the psychologically addicted) the same way we treat alcoholism, then there wouldn't be the "burden" on prisons and taxpayers. You of course know that USDA can't certify mj organic while it's illegal so that's a straw man. Drug LAWS are big business in this country. How else do all these private prisons get built if not to be filled with those who use drugs? Treat drug addiction as an addiction not a crime and we solve a lot of the probelms you mention above…your income likey goes up as well… On a side note, it's funny that conservatives don't want the government telling them they can't carry a semi-automatic weapon but they're all for telling the people what they can and can't ingest.

    • Gerald

      Amy, you are just way off base here. If marijuana wasnt a drug, why do you like it so much? and why justify your use as only a "psychological" addiction? These are obviously defenses that if you only recognized them as suck, you could possibly grow out of you adolescent viewpoint on this topic.

      • Amy Roost

        Wow Gerald!! You might want to check your own THC levels or get an eye exam because your reading between the lines is a bit fuzzy. Who said anything about my own use of marijuana?

        As far as addiction goes, I'm sure Will can confirm for us that in common usage and addictive substance must, by definition, form a tolerance, i.e. higher and higher dosages (up to a point) were needed. Psychologcially addictive, or habituating substances, such as marijuana are things you crave, but do not create a gross physiological change in the way your body works (trace neurological and neuro-chemical changes can and do happen but, they're quite minor, and they aren't always substance-related: stroking a pet for instance, can cause such trace effects).

        In the cases of alcohol and barbiturates, the physical addiction is very strong. Stopping these drugs suddenly for extreme addictions usually will require hospitalization.

        Take a look on Google and you'll find many studies that have shown that most marijuana users (maybe all marijuana users) do not display signs of addiction (as defined above).

        • Gerald

          no, youre wrong, marijuana has an identifiable detox syndrome, and does in fact create tissue dependence. Youll find out once you put down the pipe.

          its just ridiculous to think that a substance that gets you high is "not addictive", remember when the tobacco industry tried that? people believed and said that about cocaine in the 80s too… youre just wrong.

  6. vi0xiuzm

    50,000+ arrests annually in New York City alone in their stop-and-frisk program, where they deceive mostly black and latino citizens into giving up their search rights and then arrest them on small amounts.

    You may want to make your case for Prohibition by saying the arrest and incarceration records are distorted by the anti-prohibitionists, but you are also distorting the facts.

    The vast majority of marijuana arrests in this nation (some 750,000 last year) are for simple possession. Most are handled in local jurisdictions. So to say the court systems would not be freed up in a legalized and decriminalized environment is incorrect. The cost savings are immense.

    But this is not the issue – whether or not courts will become less burdened. The issue is not whether or not cannabis is a miracle plant or a harmful drug. The issue is fundamental human rights. It's each person's right to determine what they do with their body and live, including anything they may want to ingest into it.

  7. Garrett

    Does the fact that Alcohol is legal "unburden" the system from it's wrath? no. anyone who thinks those arrests are going to magically disappear are gravely mistaken.

    Get over your zealous defense of marijuana and be realistic for once people.

    • Amy Roost

      Garrett, I think the point is that marijuana has a much worse reputation than alcohol–undeservedly so IMHO. Alcohol is considered a socially appropriate means by which to unwind, marijuana is not and yet alcohol is much harder on the body and families who deal with addiction. I don't advocate for use/abuse of either (although I do enjoy my Malbec), but I think for the sake of argument, it's important to be consistent. If we're not fighting alcoholism aggressively, then it is prejudicial to fight marijuana aggressively. If we send someone with an alcohol problem to a treatment facility, then why not send someone like Brian's son to a treatment facility instead of to prison? Unemployment rates among formerly incarcerated are huge! Worse habits than pot smoking are picked up in prison. I submit that you can't have it both ways–or perhaps you can, but you'll piss off a whole bunch of people as evidenced by this thread.

      • Garrett

        I dont get too concerned about pissing off the local pot movement, its hard to step outside without doing that. It's become a religion and as far as I know, that doesnt result in higher mental health statistics either.

  8. Will Wooton

    For clarity……
    This article is focused on three main points. One being the idea of Marijuana being a natural harmless plant. Two is the actual arrest figures and how these numbers are reached. Three on the mental health aspect (In part two). Nothing stated suggests that adults should or shouldn't be allowed to smoke Marijuana. Nothing is stated that the legal system is fair or even correct. Nothing stated on costs to the legal system in time or actual funds. Simply numbers given.
    If I had my way addiction would not be a legal issue at all and would be handled in more appropriate venues. Serving the needs of the people who need it. I don't think anyone should spend time in prison for smoking Marijuana but I also don't believe that making a case for it by citing incorrect figures will work in the long run.
    If your worked up about my thoughts wait till part two comes out!

  9. BillG

    In states where they arrest people for marijuana, pretty much everyone arrested goes to jail. They may not be sentenced to jail time in the end, but when they're arrested they go to jail and have to bond out. I am a criminal defense attorney and I worked for many years s a public defender. I have seen people in jail for weeks on a simple possession of marijuana, even people with clean records. These are people who couldn't make bond, didn't have the money. I've also seen quite a few go to prison over pot, even just simple possession. Second offense was a felony in my state, and we see an awful lot of cases where people on probabtion or with suspended sentejnces have their sentences revoked over possession of a tiny amount of pot and end up in prison. Those going down on revocations over pot do not show up in the statistics as being in prison for pot. They'll be under the heading of "public order" offenses.

  10. BillG

    Had to break my commnt down into three because they said it was too long.

    I was just in court on a pot case this morning. It was a simple possession case. Two state troopers were there on that case and we spent all morning in court over it and in the end the case was continued, so we'll all be back. They could have been out on the highway stopping drunk drivers, catching fugitives, pullling big loads of hard drugs off the roads, working accidents and saving lives, etc.

  11. BillG

    Part 3 of 3

    It is stupid waste of time to keep marijuana illegal. We aren't stopping people from smoking it. We aren't making it hard to find. We aren't making it expensive when you consider how much it costs on a per use basis. It's not harmless, not good, but it's not that bad either. It doesn't impair people that much. It doesn't lead to violent stupid behavior like alcohol. Other than the occasional DWI drugs most all the marijuana related criminal conduct arises out of the fact that it is illegal. Booze is behind most assaults and battery cases and so many other cases involving stupid, reckless, and/or violent conduct. It's crazy that alcohol is legal but pot isn't. We're doing more harm than good trying to keep up the ban and that's just stupid. Pot isn't that big of a threat and most who want to smoke it already do.

  12. Mike

    Cocaine and heroin are processed with chemicals! They are not natural! Neither of these ridiculously hard drugs should be put anywhere near the same category as a plant that you can eat raw, smoke, or vaporize to gain an affect.

    • Gerome

      Ever heard of opium?

    • really

      and what do you think marijuana is grown with? have you seen the industry in growing supplies and chemical enhancers? How much toxins are used to grow either in the soil or added to the water?

      • Dwayne

        Ya well lets talk about veggies they r grown just like marijuana but instead of smoking them u eat them and they aren't flushed clean like we do marijuana.Most growers flush all cemicals out before harvest ask your farmers if they do that with your food?

  13. Michele

    Part One:
    I do not argue with Will's statistics. I don't think too many heavy drug users in prison started out using heavy drugs first, without trying pot before them. I don't believe that the prisons are full of innocent marijuana users and our system is clogged because of that.

    More IMPORTANTLY I believe that marijuana IS harmful. You can obviously see what it does to people's personality, and the non motivational behavior that follows. For an adult to use marijuana it just dulls the mind and the creativity and makes you boring and uninteresting. But for a KID, or young adult I think it does way more than make them boring and uninteresting. I use experts who have researched, not Internet jargon that will say anything. Here is the latest excerpt from ScienceDaily (Aug. 27, 2012) — The persistent, dependent use of marijuana before age 18 has been shown to cause lasting harm to a person's intelligence, attention and memory, according to an international research team.

    • Dwayne

      That's funny I own a multi million $ business I smoke everyday all day and work 12-14hrs a day I also employ 30,000 people that most of them do the same as me.They show up for work every day on time. So I guess that blows your theory all to hell.According to your so called experts I must be stupid well I would rather be me then them anyday

    • sally

      you can obviously see what detrimental effects
      alcohol does to peoples personalities but yet it is legal.
      Not everyone drinks alcohol and not everyone will smoke cannabis when it is decriminalized.

  14. Michele

    Part Two:
    Individuals who started using cannabis in adolescence and used it for years afterward showed an average decline in IQ of 8 points when their age 13 and age 38 IQ tests were compared. Quitting pot did not appear to reverse the loss either, said lead researcher Madeline Meier, a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University. The key variable in this is the age of onset for marijuana use and the brain's development, Meier said. Study subjects who didn't take up pot until they were adults with fully-formed brains did not show similar mental declines. Before age 18, however, the brain is still being organized and remodeled to become more efficient, she said, and may be more vulnerable to damage from drugs. "Marijuana is not harmless, particularly for adolescents," said Meier.

    • Ismoke

      Duke university proved this study to be bios and inaccurate… TWB has a article on there about it.
      I'm also a engineer and run two successful side businesses. I guess I provide nothing either.

  15. Michele

    Part Three:
    So my point here is kids and young adults should not smoke marijuana. Period. But the parents that allow it are also allowing their child's IQ to go downhill. And if that's what they want they have that right. But I don't personally see how an adult sitting on his couch hugging his bong with glazed over eyes, is doing anybody any good and worse yet if they allow their kids to follow their example.

    I look forward to the 2nd part of this column as I'm sure this will be addressed!

    • Mike

      Hi Michele,

      Even though the validity of that study is being disputed on a variety of grounds even today, I will give you that as a valid point to make. Absolutely no one in the legalization movement is saying we should be letting our kids smoke marijuana. Quite the contrary, everyone wants it to be 21+ as is alcohol. Just the same, I do not believe that tobacco or alcohol, or any other drugs, don't show similar drops in IQ over time when consumed at such a young age.

      There are so many things going on hormonally and developmentally in children, and even into your early 20s that can be affected by drug use of any sort, legal or not, prescribed or not, that the mere idea of allowing use of or prescribing use of any drug to a child absolutely disgusts me. I know more kids with serious drug and/or mental issues now, that were drugged as children with all sorts of pills to "keep them under control" for ADD, ADHD, and a variety of other alphabet soup "illnesses" than I care to admit.

    • Amy Roost

      You could switch out the word heavy beer drinker for marijuana user and almost everything you say would still be true, except that alcohol has a much more deleterious effect on a person's physiology.

  16. Tom Yarnall

    This sounds like an auction. The number of arrest has gone from 650,000 to 750,00 to 850,000. Can anyone bid 1,000,000?
    Before making judgement about legalizing marijuana I suggest you read the latest NIH review on the effects of this gateway drug.
    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/m...
    How in the world can demonizing alcohol justify using a drug that has such ill effects? Would you kiss a rattlesnake?

    • Amy Roost

      Hey Tom,

      I started with beer and now I drink small batch whiskey. Does that make beer a gateway beverage?

      • Tom Yarnall

        Amy, I have no idea about beer, but suspect there are plenty of alcoholics who only drink beer and wine just like those addicted to marijuana.
        What is intriguing to me is why you have a need to ingest all of those mind altering substances. I am not a teetotaler and do enjoy a glass of wine or two before dinner, but have never tried drugs. Do they make you happy?
        May I give you a lite?

        • Amy Roost

          I don't use anything that requires a light. And to quote Dorothy Parker: "I don't care what is written about me as long as it isn't true". So you're on the right track Tom.

          • Tom Yarnall

            Amy. I always wonder what your response will be because I never know which liberal you will quote.
            Do you think there is a drug problem in the country and do you think making drugs legal will reduce drug abuse deaths and families being torn apart by their effects? Do you want to make them legal to make them more readily available and cheaper or are you really concerned about the cost of law enforcement? Does legal alcohol justify legalizing dope?
            In this case you may want to quote Bob Filner, since he is on the same side of the equation as you.

          • Amy Roost

            Funny Tom that as a liberal I believe more in free will than you do. If I were a illegal drug user and I broke the law (beat my husband, drove my car too fast, smacked my kid), I'd expect to be punished for it. But you have no more right to tell me what I can put in my body than you do telling me what I can put in my mind.

          • Tom Yarnall

            Amy,not another entry from your book of quotes?. I do believe they liven a conversation so let me give you an implied one.
            " I may disapprove of what you ingest in your mind and body, but I will defend to the death your right to do it" Amy Roost, Jan 2013.
            Does that not have a good ring to it?

          • Gerald

            and you obviously have a drinking problem too now amy.

          • Amy Roost

            Well to quote another liberal Gerald, "I drink to make you [and Tom] more interesting" ~Ernest Hemingway

  17. Mike

    Having spent quite a bit of time on both sides of the drug debate, I can say with complete certainty that marijuana use alone doesn't ruin lives, unless the authorities get involved. Cocaine and Heroin on the other hand, which you incorrectly claim are "natural" to hold up your counter argument against marijuana being natural, do ruin countless lives. I have lost several friends and acquaintances over the years to cocaine and heroin use. I have never lost a single friend to marijuana.

    • Tom Yarnall

      Mike, I find it intriguing you have lost so many friends and acquaintances to drugs. What kind of people do you hang out with?
      Did any of them start with marijuana before going to the hard stuff? Could they not find happiness without resorting to mind altering drugs?Did they only smoke pure marijuana or did they sometimes lace it as many do, especially teenagers?

      • Amy Roost

        Tom, please stop painting everyone who disagees as a user/abuser. Believe it or not, some of us can actually have intelligent discourse without being high.

        • Tom Yarnall

          Good point Amy. In the future I will use the term "95% of the drug users/abusers". I am sure at least 5% of you are sincere and altruistic in your quest to legalize.

    • Bruce

      I bet that you have Mike, because virtually every drug addict I've come in contact with starts with Marijuana. (And my son as well.) It IS a gateway drug. It opens people up to friends who use drugs. It dulls their inhibitions so they are more likely to try other things. People smoke it to get stoned correct? Obviously that leads to changes in the brain that crave more of that sensation. A sensation that X or prescription drugs or alcohol or Oxy (then heroin) produces. Ridiculous to say otherwise.

    • Fred

      Mike how does your personal experience or even knowing many people whom have abused drugs give you certainty? Do you eat peanuts? Do you know people who have? I myself have a allergic reaction to them yet by your logic they are 100 percent safe. People are different and have different reactions to things. Please dont assume your experiences are the same to others you have never meet….

  18. Mark O

    Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, I went to high school and college in Berkeley … now …

    Those of us with children who have battled drug addiction and started their self-destruction with marijuana, find it easy to label it as "the great Satan". The facts are that:
    (a) alcohol destroys more lives that marijuana
    (b) kids are going to get marijuana and alcohol (just like we did as kids) whether it's legal (for adults) or not.

    Would we be better off with kids hanging out in front of the local pot store and trying to get some older pot head to buy some for them or enterprising kids and sketchy adults 'pushing' illegal pot at our schools? One could argue that in the latter scenario it is far more likely that they have other drugs for sale with them and that they're buying a far less safe substance.

    This battle has been raging far longer than the 10 years Will references above. We already tried this with alcohol. Prohibition for 13 years (if memory serves) and the major result was to establish and entrench truly organized crime. It's a battle that can not and will not be won. So why don't we save the taxpayers a lot of money and in fact generate a lot of tax revenue by legalizing MJ? The biggest issue I see is what the fallout will be when now international organized crime loses its major source of revenue.

    Your last statement is accurate:

    I don’t believe that making marijuana legal will somehow free millions of marijuana smokers and unburden our legal system.

    In fact, it's not going to change much of anything, and very little if anything for the worse.

  19. Kathy

    Will, I really can't wait for part 2!!! What a great debate. I am very interested in your opinions and all of the comments they generate. I have always seen both sides of this issue and quite frankly still don't know which side I am on. Convince me!!!

  20. C. H.

    This whole discussion sounds to me like a game that can't be won, only played. However , the game stops when your teenage child ends up in an ambulance as the result of a rollover while driving under the influence of Marijuana. Was he charged? No, the police said it wasn't worth their or the courts time. That was 5 years ago. He is sober and clean today. For me, the issue IS NOT the legality of Marijuana. It's about our attitudes toward mind altering substances of any kind. Does our society really need another legal substance to numb ourselves with?

  21. Brian

    Testimonial: My son smoked pot at 14, was dealing at 15, moved onto heavier "meds" at 16, is now a heroin addict at 17 … and he smokes it, a ritual he learned smoking weed. And, he's not alone by any stretch … I can immediately name two dozen other "kids" (17 to 20 years old) in our middle class neighborhood with the same affliction … and it all started with this simple, natural, organic substance, weed.

    • Tom Yarnall

      Brian, sorry your son got caught up in it. Yours is not an isolated case the drug heads ignore. Thousands experience it every day.
      Marijuana is easily bought and the users advocate legalizing it because they want to bring the price down. Can you imagine what the price may be if it is legalized and the farmers in the San Joaquin Valley covert their fields to pot? Can you imagine the consequences?

    • Dwayne

      Well that is your kid my kid smokes and gets strate A's and on his way to a full scholarship to Harvard. So each case is differant.Remenber free will!!If u teach your kids rite they will do rite.By the way I tought my kids not to drink alcohol or take man made drugs and he is compleatly healthy and active in sports

      • Michael

        I am having a very hard time believing that your son is getting a full scholarship to Harvard. Anyone getting strate A's, that is compleatly healthy, and was tought rite by u all while smoking is indeed differant, but most likely NOT going to Harvard. Maybe he got a bad bag and shared it with you. Spell check is not that hard but does hurt your credibility and argument without it.

  22. brian

    No big deal right? Dead wrong … pot is lethal these days in its potency; not the stuff you could smoke by the ounce years ago just to get a "buzz". It has addictive qualities that I've seen in my boy first hand … he, by his own admission, "craves" smoking pot. That doesn't sound "innocent" to me and no one , NO ONE, will convince me otherwise. I used to drink the pot is "no big deal" Koolaid too … until I watched my own child get ripped apart by this stuff and the behaviors it induces. His motivation is gone, integrity destroyed, reputation pulverized. True, not all will take it to this extreme, but in my opinion, many more will if it's readily availabe at 7-11 … welcome to the United States of Addiction. Will is right on point folks, please listen.

  23. Thanks for taking the time and researching some actual statistics Will! I agree with your prediction that Marijuana will be widely legalized across the board in the near future.

    Given the statistics, you're absolutely correct, legalizing marijuana will not free millions of pot smokers and unburden our legal system. It definitely won't make that big of a dent in our legal system.

    Mostly, I appreciate you pointing out the misleading presentations that have derived by I'm sure supporters of both sides of this argument. I think its important that people represent the truth when debating opinions. Campaigning seems to bring out that manipulations in just about everyone, thanks for straightforward opinion. I'm looking forward to article #2!

  24. Kelly

    I have always felt marijuana is a gateway drug to the use of many other drugs so many young adults are experimenting with and evidentially becoming addicted to and then ending up seeking even more of an escape and find heroin or meth. Then it becomes a life or death situation. Nothing good can come from legalizing marijuana. This is a drug that I call the stupid drug. It will take away any ambition or goal you might have or want to set in your life. This is a real problem drug. It is much more addicting and potent than it was 30 years ago. I have personally seen and watched young adults in my life experiment with marijuana, it causing little if none positive or creativie motivation their lives. This is in no way shape or form a natural harmless drug. Thank goodness the law has caught and penalized many young kids whom were stopped with possession and selling. It has opened many other doors for help to those that become highly addicted and therefore need help. This might be the only way they realize they need it.

  25. Chase T

    Will, thank you for taking time out of your busy life to point out the facts! Legalizing pot will not make any difference in our legal system. Our state facilities are not filled with first time offenders who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time with a bag of weed on them. It honestly makes me laugh when reading some of these "debates" concerning this situation, as if these pro-pot smokers are writing from the comfort of their jail cell. With that being said, I don't feel at all that you were telling anyone how to live their lives.

    Knowing who you are and what you do as a Profession, I feel you are simply informing the uninformed.

    Looking forward to article #2

  26. forkup

    Show just one instance of someone over dosing on just cannabis by itself. You can't do it.

    Free the weed !

  27. Nanz

    Reality, not fantasy: my brother smoked weed every day for several decades. His mental, emotional & social capacities are severely diminished from frying his brain with pot each and every day. Now, dear taxpayers, YOU pay for his upkeep every day because he can't hold any job and he needs medicines, medical care, housing and public transportation.

    I don't want to have to pay for my brother or any other addict just because of their incapacity or inability to take care of themselves. My brother is just entering middle age and we will ALL be paying for him for many decades because his brain power is horribly diminished due to smoking marijuana for so long.

    If potheads were rational or responsible, my opinion might be otherwise. But, they are self-centered and self-indulgent drug users and abusers whose habits burden all of taxpaying society! They don't all stay home and quietly smoke a joint in the privacy of their own homes. They get high, drive while under the influence, thus endangering themselves and all of the rest of us. The criminals among them steal and lie to get money or goods to sell to buy more weed.

    Again, if all potheads were fine upstanding citizens who carefully and responsibly smoked a joint and stayed home, I wouldn't care one bit. But, they don't. Just as drunks create havoc and destruction when they drive drunk, potheads driving while high also wreak havoc and are a danger to everyone around them.

    First, all of you weed fans prove that every single one of you will use responsibly and stay home while high … only then will I even consider supporting the legalization of yet another substance for idiots to use and abuse and endanger themselves and others with …

    • Denise

      Unbelievably accurate and well said. We all live in a social bubble. What one does effects others. If its health costs or accidents drugs take from us all!

  28. Shamaine

    Let me first say, Will, thank you for the work you do. As a licensed therapist, I value anyone who has truly put their heart and soul into their work and as *everyone* knows (whether you’re in this field or not), teenagers are some of the most difficult to work with, not to mention teenagers who are abusing or addicted substances. So, thank you.
    In regards to your article, I think you're right; it won't unburden the legal system. New laws will be created to somehow regulate marijuana, and those laws, I’m sure, will also be broken too. I also believe, I think it will most likely create a new revenue of problems (so where potential money and time has been allegedly freed up – and not much of it, as you pointed out – it will only need to be distributed into addressing new issues). Our nation would not only be paying the taxes for the police, court, and prison systems; we would be paying for the increase in substance abuse recovery programs that would be needed to assist our society in their new found (or perhaps old) abuse and addiction issues. Few people can smoke marijuana responsibly and without any detriment, if you are one of them, congratulations, because I believe it is rare.

  29. Mother in Training

    Question for Part II: What is Will's perspective on the impact of legalizing marijuana on teens? Will this make it more or less available to them? Are there any other impacts legalizing marijuana will have on teens–pro's or cons?

  30. Terry

    Mytake away from this article is marijuana arrests / incarceration for personal use quantities as the stand alone charge are lower than legalization advocates project. Marijuana possesion or intoxication may play a role in law enforcement incidents, traffic, curfew, thefts etc. I acknowledge this is an emotional issue and responsible home use among adults is not likely to lead to an arrest but I believe the issue hear is the effect on the lives of young people. Regulation and laws are already ineefective in preventing pot use. Lets keep the issue seperate and wait for the conclusions of this series.

  31. WillzRight

    Will is correct in the small percentage of people going to "prison" for pot. First, prison is state time and jail is county. Second, in the State of California, possession is an infraction (less than ounce) – in other words a traffic ticket. So you are not ever going to jail for an infraction. San Diego doesn't even arrest on misdemeanors any longer and haul you in (except DUI). Cops don't write infractions for this stuff because it's not worth the time and effort (unless of course you're a real jerk and then they will happily cite you).

    To the "criminal attorney" who posted above that he "represents" people charged with possession and these people are going to jail for having small amounts, clearly he's a) not really an attorney or b) not practicing in the State of California.

  32. Amy Roost

    I think we all know someone who's gone to pot due to smoking pot. I ended a marriage in part due to this effect it has on some. We all know (whether we know we know or not) people who smoke on a regular basis who are high functioning individuals with successful marriages and careers. There's no point in a pee-pee contest of who knows more deadbeats or successful pot users. The bottom line is that if someone wants to ingest something, he/she should be able to do so. If he/she breaks the law as a result they should pay the penalty. If his/her use is having a negative impact on marriage or career then an intervention and treatment is indicated.

  33. weed is gift

    Smoke weed all day. thats what it is for. gods gift is to blaze. I drive better high do work better high. i dont mess with drugs i hit the naturals. i have my g-high card so im protected. ill smoke till the day i die!

  34. Season Hewitt

    Awesome article! Can't wait for next installment!! More and more research is being revealed about the very damaging consequences of marijuana use!

  35. Will does such incredible work with families and I really applaud him for bringing sensitive topics like this into the forefront so that we can have a healthy debate/conversation about it. Will's intention is never to impose his beliefs onto others, but to a) provide factual information and current statistics and b) to get us to expand our thought process to consider alternative ways in looking at this topic. Like Chase T, I just really appreciate Will taking the time to educate families and how much courage it takes to make an argument. I am also looking forward to the next article and encourage others to have an open mind.

  36. james

    Legalization of marijuana will free up significant resources for use in other areas of crime fighting. The percentages mentioned may be small, but the numbers are big.

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