Response to Shannon Geiger’s “Legalized pot would make life worse for Dallas’ poor”

Posted on: February 1, 2014

Response to Shannon Geiger’s “Legalized pot would make life worse for Dallas’ poor” article that was recently shared by the Dallas Morning News.

It’s one thing to smoke marijuana in places like New Haven, Connecticut, Denver, Colorado or Seattle, Washington.  These places  have one thing in common.  It is no longer a criminal offense to smoke a harmless plant because it has either been decriminalized, or completely legalized.3,6,7  The sky has not fallen, hard drug use has not spiked, and automobile accidents have not increased. Drunk driving has decreased, though.  The world spins on, except,  these states aren’t arresting their citizens at an alarming rate anymore.

Comparatively, in Dallas, Texas in the back of the duplex, the poor Hispanic teenager you spoke of will be arrested at almost twice the rate of a Caucasian cannabis user4.  If he is arrested, will be fined up to $2,000 and possibly jailed for up to 6 months2.  He will forever have a criminal record, which will prevent him from getting federal matching funding thanks to the Higher Education Act of 19981. A paroled child molester is still eligible, but not a casual marijuana consumer.  Furthermore, he will be denied gainful employment due to the criminal record that follows him because he cannot afford an expungement.  How does this not to contribute to the “moral wobbliness” you speak of?  The punishment should not be worse than the “crime” itself.

Marijuana has been scientifically proven to be a non-toxic, non-addictive, healing substance with zero recorded deaths in history.  Yet you say it will be abused if legalized.  Ms. Geiger, can’t and aren’t cheeseburgers abused too?  How many people are obese in this country? How many people die prematurely due to their diets?  What about those who gamble their lives away? How many people die due to alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs?  There will always be people who want to abuse something, but that does not mean that everyone will.  It is time to stop calling people who make a healthier choice drug addicts!

Re-Legalizing hemp would create a new cash crop for our farmers to grow and sell to the world.  We could stop growing corn for fuel and lower food and fuel costs.  It would allow for us to start seeing  “Made in America” stamped on things due to hemp’s low cost and durability.  This would create a plethora of manufacturing jobs for the city of Dallas and the State of Texas.

Legal medical marijuana would create jobs, and drive innovation towards the future of medicine here in Texas.  A medical marijuana dispensary creates jobs in 14 different fields5.   Dallas and Texas could help knock unemployment out of the park with these jobs!  The tax revenue generated from income and sales would be in the millions as well.

The U.S. is approaching the forefront of cannabinoid research for vicious diseases like Cancer, HIV/Aids, Epilepsy and many others.  Why shouldn’t Texas be leading the pack? I thought we do everything bigger and better in the Lone Star State.

It is high time we take a sensible approach to cannabis policy in Dallas and Texas as a whole.  Ending cannabis prohibition would not hurt the poor but do quite the opposite.  A taxed and regulated cannabis market would create thousands of living wage jobs for the under and un-employed in this great city, all while lowering crime!  It would stop breaking up families and wasting precious tax dollars that could be focused on helping the poor and educating our children so they can have a brighter future.

Max Davidson
DFWNORML Member

Sources:

http://norml.org/news/1998/10/08/clinton-signs-law-denying-student-aid-to-marijuana-smokers

http://norml.org/laws/item/texas-penalties-22

http://norml.org/laws/item/connecticut-penalties3

http://www.scribd.com/doc/146338075/ACLU-Racial-Marijuana-Report4

http://www.alternet.org/story/152487/14_kinds_of_jobs_sustained_by_marijuana?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark5

http://norml.org/laws/item/colorado-penalties6

http://norml.org/laws/item/washington-penalties-27