No one wishes to have a society in which people feel impelled to use harmful or addictive substances for self-soothing. America has a high rate of addictive behavior in their uses of alcohol, tobacco, food, gambling, sex, and other media to ease their psychic pains. Adding another legal though regulated component, marijuana, seems contrary to ending this problem. Addiction exists, legal or not, and it is far more likely that we can reduce addiction by eliminating the underground economy that has a rabid profit motive to sweep users into its clutches.
Marijuana is a fact of life in every community despite its illegality. Prohibition has not stopped the use of marijuana, but it has added a culture of criminality identical to what occurred in alcohol prohibition during the 1920s. It has spawned large gangs who make millions in the cultivation and transportation of the drug and is a significant portion of the dreadful drug cartel actions along our state’s border with Mexico. The toll at the border and within our cities, the death and destruction of lives over competition to sell marijuana, must end. Prohibition has inflicted far more harm than the marijuana itself. We, as people of faith, bear the same responsibility doctors do: first do not harm. When the “solution” outweighs the problem in terms of death and violence, we must alleviate that harm.
Marijuana has been called a “gateway drug” leading users into far more dangerous drug uses. But we believe the “gateway” is not the drug itself but the culture of criminality in which users must buy and consume marijuana that leads them to associate with pushers and gangs who profit from first selling marijuana, then in increasing the drug use with more and different substances.
Another critical reason for support for decriminalization of marijuana lies in much of the same reasoning that the NAACP brings to their support of this proposition – penalties for marijuana possession and use have fallen in discriminatory ways on especially people of color. Legalization of marijuana would result in charging minors with simple underage consumption, as we do with alcohol and tobacco. They should not be placed into a criminal drug culture and into prison because they lack adult judgment on these matters.
One argument for continuing as we are has been that people with addiction problems can receive mandated treatment via the drug diversion policies mandated by Proposition 36 that the state passed some years ago. However, with state budget crises, funding for diversion has been cut to the bone, drug courts have been markedly reduced. Proposition 64 increases drug prevention and treatment funding We supported Proposition 19 and support Proposition 64 as a step toward ending the violence and death of the drug wars and cartels and to end discriminatory drug sentencing. It is the rational way to deal with a substance that already infuses our society.