Letter to the Editor: Don’t Be So Quick to Legalize Marijuana

The proponents of marijuana have been quite successful in stampeding various units of local government to get on record supporting legalizing medical marijuana.

And why shouldn’t they? There are plenty of anecdotes telling us of terminal cancer patients who say they can’t seem to get pain relief any other way, in spite of the lengthy roster of high-octane pain relievers currently available. If MJ helps these folks find peace, only a cruel soul would deny it to them, right?

The push for MJ has snowballed so rapidly, though, that many of us have not taken the time to recognize the potential unintended consequences of legalization.

I spent some time in Florida last January. There, I picked up a shopper paper that included the ad, “Medical Marajuana Prescriptions, $150.”

Let’s face it folks. In medical MJ states, anyone with a couple bucks can get find a schlock doc to get a prescription. So realistically, medical MJ is recreational MJ. It would be on the secondary market within hours.

Surely, more MJ floating around the state would result in more finding its way into our schools. And isn’t it ironic? Our state has spent zillions of dollars to decrease the smoking of tobacco, but now others want us to legalize MJ?

The experts say that MJ is hazardous to health, addictive, intoxicating, and can lead to premature death. Then there’s the “gateway” factor, i.e. it may lead to harder drugs. More folks would be driving impaired. Fewer folks would pass pre-employment drug tests.

I can also see an increased “stoner” underclass, increased pressure on social services and law enforcement, more healthcare issues, and the degradation of certain neighborhoods and of quality of life. Is all this worth the possibility of easing the pain of a handful of the seriously ill, who already have so many pain control products at their disposal?

It’s too early to jump on the MJ bandwagon. There’s good reason to suspect that the upside is minimal, and that the downside is huge.

Tom Felhofer

Union, Wis.