Letters to the Editor

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I-502: Legalization won’t increase youth pot use

Letter by James Doherty, Shoreline on Sep. 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm | 9 Comments »
September 17, 2012 3:31 pm

Re: “Juvenile marijuana use: The fatal flaw of Initiative 502” (editorial, 9-16).

I appreciated your editorial, which was generally very supportive of ending marijuana prohibition, but also made the flawed claim that doing so would increase teenagers’ access to marijuana.

As a former felony and misdemeanor prosecutor, I’ve seen how drug use has ruined the lives of many young people. I disagree, however, with your assessment that I-502 will result in increased marijuana use by youth.

Right now there is a total free-for-all out on the streets because of the extent of the black market marijuana trade. Moving to a regulated market for adult use of marijuana will eliminate a substantial segment of the black market for drugs. With fewer black market “sellers” out on the streets, it is hoped that it will become harder for youth under 21 to access marijuana.

When alcohol prohibition ended, the criminal production and sale of moonshine died out. I would anticipate a similar shift with regulating the sale of marijuana: Illegal production and sale will decrease.

As long as marijuana remains illegal, criminals will, by definition, be the only people who sell it. If we were to legalize and regulate marijuana, however, sellers would be licensed retailers overseen by the Liquor Control Board. Who do you think is more likely to sell to a 16-year-old?

(Doherty is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.)

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