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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 with 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.)

Leave a comment Comments → 9
  1. PuyallupAdjunct says:

    This argument makes almost no sense. First, if availability goes up, use goes up, and that is across all segments. Second, if it is as you say, that it will be harder for youths to get it because it will be difficult for them to acquire it through the official channels, that virtually proves that the street demand won’t go down and it will still be available to them on you “black market.”

    Instead you end up with the same black market meeting demand (and not charging tax, so could be cheaper), ON TOP of authorized use. It may serve to make some former criminal’s activities legitimate (for reference, check out how moonshiners operate) but legalization won’t eliminate illegal distribution. In fact, it could solidify it.

  2. alindasue says:

    The reason the marijuana black market is so strong is not just because of the demand for the product, but also because they can make a lot of money selling it. They majority of people buying marijuana are not youths; youths don’t generally have that kind of money. It is adults who are usually buying it.

    If marijuana were to be legalized (I’m still deciding if I-502 is the right approach), youths would get their marijuana the same way they get their alcohol: from their older friends or from their parents’ stash. That’s probably how most of them are getting it already.

    I don’t approve of the use of marijuana – or alcohol – but this “war on drugs”, with its inherent costs and loss of basic constitutional rights, has definitely been the wrong approach in dealing with it.

  3. charliebucket says:

    I have a hard time grasping the idea of legal marijuana use (for non medical purposes) and I am not sure I want to legalize it. BUT, the more I consider the issue the more I weigh that alcohol is perfectly legal, so why can I sit around and get drunk when I want but not sit around a smoke a joint whenever I want. Why can I go to a Mariners game and get have a beer with my rally fries, but not go down to the smoking terrace and have a hit of my bong? I mean, honestly, what’s the difference?

    On the other side of the coin, if we use this logic, why not legalize heroin and other drugs? And, I never thought about the youth aspect, that it will be easier to get pot, maybe……

    hmmmm…..a lot to think about.

  4. surething says:

    I think that we should decriminalize it. If kids want it, they will get it, just like smokes and booze.

  5. truthbusterguy says:

    pass whatever you liberals are going to pass but you must pass I-1185.

    Even liberals want the democrats in Olympia to take their hands out of their pockets.

    What does that tell you about this state when even libs say no to more taxes.

    Yes on I-1185 and HAIL NO on Prop 1.

  6. charliebucket says:

    a yes on I1185 is undemocratic and voting to let the minority rule.

    Uninformed short sighted voters will vote for it because whenever they think their taxes will be lower they will vote for anything, even undemocratic garbage.

  7. Vote against legalizing pot to deny hippies a cheap and legal high. Make them feel guilty supporting the drug trade. And no doubt usage among kids would go up.


  8. from the editorial
    Legalization would likely produce a surge of dope smoking among
    teenagers who now avoid it simply because it is stigmatized as illegal.

    This statement is a desperate grasp at straws. And the argument that follows is a strawman argument.

    There is no evidence to support the central assumption that is made by the author. In fact, the author of the editorial directly undermines that assumption by providing the following information:
    Federal data suggest that most adolescents either avoid alcohol and drugs, or only experiment with them.

    Alcohol is currently legal but prohibited to anyone under 21. How can the author assume that having the same restrictions on marijuana would provide different results?

  9. SwordofPerseus says:

    Some of the comments here make me sad for my fellow Americans, how hateful, cowardly, and ignorant so many of them are. :-(

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