“Their View: Now Is Not The Time To legalize Marijuana” – (Times Leader)

I am honestly starting to feel like a broken record (as the boomers say), with my seemingly constant focus on the topic of marijuana of late. However, even as the world glacially moves forward in terms of slowly embracing rational drug laws (considering stories like this one, this could soon be an aged metaphor), old ideals still keep showing their ugly head in the debate.

Old, outdated and unchallenged is one thing. Flat out stupid is another.

While a part of me wanted to just bypass the article that follows due to having covered much of what is mentioned within already in previous posts, some blatantly idiotic bits made me change my mind. This being particularly appealing being that the author of this piece is Scott L. Bohn, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Chiefs Of Police Association.

Yes. Yet another faux-expert weighing in on a topic that they seem to have shown little interest in actually researching before writing an article addressed to their jurisdictions residents. 

As executive director of The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and as a former member of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, I would like to express my concerns, and those of many of our membership, about the legalization of marijuana and the relative effects on public safety in or communities. I believe that marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania will pose significant challenges for law enforcement resulting from the unanticipated consequences it has on crime and public safety.

In our meeting with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, we supported decriminalization. There is an important distinction to be made here for the commonwealths residents. Legalization of marijuana is the process of removing all legal prohibitions against it. Marijuana would then be available to the adult general population for purchase and use at will, similar to tobacco and alcohol. Decriminalization is the act of removing criminal sanctions against an act, article or behavior.

It’s the difference between personal freedom and a permanent criminal record. Particularly if one’s skin tone is any darker than sunburned Lilly white. But . . . that is a whole other conversation, isn’t it? 

What the hay . . . Defund the police.

More on that later.

There are insufficient data to determine the true impact of legalized marijuana on crime and safety.

1.) Classifying a substance as illicit for the better part of a century does tend to yield such results. How convenient that the lack of evidence itself becomes a main pillar of the argument.

2.) It makes me wonder how many made the same argument in regards to alcohol during prohibition. Interestingly enough, we now have more than enough evidence to make the case for making that substance illicit. From domestic violence to people driving drunk. As such, I have to ask the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association (as well as all others with such views), what is your stance regarding the recriminalizing of alcohol?

Keep in mind that I, myself, am not in favour of such measures. While I appreciate the strategies of both Portugal and The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (at least their recommendation), I am more in favour of an all-out legalization approach to these things. But since that is WAY out of the realm of possibility in the foreseeable future, decriminalization is a good first step.

To get back to the original quote, there is this:

Legalizing cannabis hasn’t led to an increase in visible disorder or crime in Calgary, say city police.

The force said their statistics on cannabis enforcement, obtained by Postmedia, and their wider experience in upholding the law suggest little has changed on city streets since recreational use of the drug was legalized last October.

“I don’t think we can dispute the numbers . . . it’s status quo,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Grant of the Strategic Enforcement Unit.

“A lot of people out there are being responsible with it.”

Legalization doesn’t appear to have significantly increased impaired driving or given rise to a large spike in community complaints, said police Chief Mark Neufeld.

“I don’t think it’s had the impact that we thought it would,” he said.

Legalization doesn’t appear to have significantly increased impaired driving or given rise to a large spike in community complaints, said police Chief Mark Neufeld.

“I don’t think it’s had the impact that we thought it would,” he said.

https://calgaryherald.com/cannabis/cannabis-news/cannabis-legalization/cannabis-legalization-has-had-little-impact-on-crime-disorder-city-police

Full disclosure: The rate of black-market marijuana has also not yet decreased.

Another aspect of the local cannabis scene that hasn’t changed is the prevalence of a black market, partly exemplified by the number of illegal grow operations that far exceed the legal allowance of four plants per household, said Grant.

In fact, police have stepped up their efforts against such illicit gardens in recent months.

Since October, authorities have taken down five such operations, the largest consisting of 1,100 plants worth an estimated $1.4 million.

In 2017, only three illegal gardens were busted and only one last year, just days after legalization in October.

However, Chief Grant also had this to say.

But to some degree, prohibition’s end has allowed police to focus increasingly on more serious crimes and drugs such as crystal meth, cocaine, heroin and other opioids, with 25 per cent of cannabis seizures coming from investigations of those other substances, said Grant.

“We try to focus our efforts on what’s most damaging and we’ve heard that from the public,” he said.

There you have it, straight from the mouth of a colleague. Though notably, a colleague in a very different policing culture than that of the United States. But again, that is a whole other can of worms . . .

In short, there have so far been no signs that the legalization of Cannabis in Canada has negatively affected the nation’s overall crime rate. Whilst citations for improper transport and consumption of legal cannabis as well as less overall convictions stemming from the substance now being legal may well cloud these figures for the foreseeable future, no one is ringing any alarm bells. In fact, most Canadian policing agencies seem to be adopting the legalization and decriminalization framework as a way of moving forward.

Either way, with only 2 years between the legalization of marijuana and now (and one of these years being FAR from normal due to the pandemic), it’s hard to see a clear picture as of yet. However, since this is allowing police forces to focus on more dangerous narcotics, then I’d say we are already seeing the benefits.

However, studies in Colorado show:

Now we’re getting into the fun stuff.

• High-potency THC from marijuana hash oil extractions, which are used in making legalized, laced edibles and beverages, has led to overdoses, potential psychotic breaks and suicide attempts.

We will start with this loaded statement.

First off, while it is true that high potency products do exist (there is a demand. Just as there is (or, was)  a demand for Bicardi 151!), that is not all that is available legally. In fact, this is one of the obvious benefits of bringing the industry into the realm of legitimacy. Quality control can be implemented in all areas of production, and a wider range of products can be made available for cannabis consumers at all stages of the spectrum (from beginners to seasoned stoners). 

Consider all of the options made by this single producer alone dispensary alone:

https://silverstemcannabis.com/cannabis-products/candies

Let’s consider one sample product from their lineup chosen at random.

https://silverstemcannabis.com/cannabis-products/candies/altus-fruit-puree-gummies-blackberry-lemonade-sativa-100mg-rec

A popular product for people in my small circle, THC gummies. Each package contains 10 gummies, and the whole of the package contains 10mg of THC. Thus, the measurement is easy.
While things can get slightly more difficult for things like baked goods and cannabinoid-infused beverages, the methodology of measurement is still simplistic.

Edibles

The website above also contains this VERY important disclaimer which one should always take into consideration when dealing with edibles. The onset of these products can take some time.

THC is metabolized in the liver into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. This compound is more potent than THC, has a longer half-life and can be very sedating. It’s this mechanism in the liver that causes edibles to have different effects in most people. This entire process can take between 45 minutes and and 3 hours.

If the initial concern about overdoses, psychotic breakdowns and suicide attempts is viewed through this lens, then it is not a concern without merit. People that are unprepared for a potentially huge dose of THC may well find themselves facing extreme situations. However, that is where the education component kicks in.

This is where Cannabis retailers play an integral role in the picture. Unlike your typical back ally drug dealer of the previous 5 decades, staff in these dispensaries can help people make informed choices concerning their cannabis journey.

As for the consumers of edibles and other such products, it is on you to ensure you safely store your goods (particularly if you have children!). Even those without minors may find benefit from a box like this to keep unsuspecting snackers from unwittingly gobbling your stash.

• Youth use and addiction rates have increased due to ease of accessibility, and there is great concern about the significant health impacts of chronic marijuana use on the youth.

According to the Colorado Governments’ survey data, the increase is small.

Marijuana: Youth marijuana use has not significantly changed since legalization, but the way youth are using marijuana is changing. In 2019, 20.6% of youth said they use marijuana compared to 19.4% in 2017. More youth are now vaping marijuana — 10.6% in 2019 compared to 5.1% in 2015. Dabbing rose from 4.3% in 2015 to 20.4% in 2019.

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/news/cdphe-releases-latest-healthy-kids-colorado-survey-data

Also:

1.) I call bullshit on the ease of accessibility argument. Last I checked, drug dealers are not mandated to check for identification. As for this argument being rendered moot by the vaping and dabbing increases, there will ALWAYS be adults that are willing to supply minors. It has been the case for tobacco and alcohol, and it will be the case for marijuana products too.

2.) Vaping should have been reined in long before the industry managed to addict an entirely new generation to nicotine VIA a whole new vector. While marijuana also does cross into this category, the main fuck up there was at the hands of the regulators.

• Banking systems are unavailable to the marijuana industry because of federal laws, creating a dangerous level of cash that can lead to crime.

This is where we get into the realm of stupid.

Banking legislation could EASILY have been amended to allow all levels of the marijuana industry into the national banking system and less prone to crime. In fact, such legislation has already passed in the house. The holdup is now in the Senate, and possibly in the office of POTUS Cheeto.

Banks have thrown their weight behind the legislation, telling lawmakers they need clarity on whether they can do business with cannabis companies where it is legal at the state level despite the fact that marijuana remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

“Our members are committed to serving the financial needs of their communities – including those that have voted to legalize cannabis,” said the American Bankers Association in a letter sent to lawmakers Tuesday seeking their support.

* * *

In particular, banks are wary that taking deposits from pot businesses could violate federal anti-money laundering laws, which in turn could put at risk their federal charters or access to federal payments systems.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-house-cannabis/house-passes-bill-that-would-allow-banks-to-work-with-cannabis-companies-idUSKBN1WA308

The banking system WANTS to serve this very lucrative new customer base, but it is the political system that is standing in the way. Something very ironic given the amount of money that is being left on the table. Think of all the lobbying cash that marijuana producers could pump into your campaigns!

I am nothing if not a pragmatist.

ANYWAY, wouldn’t a more productive use of law enforcement time be in lobbying politicians to open up the banks to this cash, thereby reducing the chances of the crime occurring? Or, am I missing something?

• Difficulties in establishing what is a legal marijuana operation have created problems in conducting investigations, determining probable cause and search and seizure procedures.

Oh, boo fucking who.

Sounds more like the paper pushers are having problems keeping their shit organized. Canada hasn’t been running into such problems in our 2 years of embracing this new crop. So what’s the hold-up on your end?

• Marijuana illegal trading through the black and other markets has not decreased. Diversion across state boundaries has created issues for states that do not have legalized marijuana laws.

You mean, like how the states with lax gun laws are causing problems for the states with the tough gun laws (which includes Canada, Mexico and other Central and South American nations by the way!) by allowing the flow of these weapons through inter-state commerce?

Also worth noting:

I didn’t expect to see the UK on the list of nations that illicit American guns are pouring into. But there it is.

Now, since I am a man of solutions, here’s my simple one for both problems. Toughen up American gun laws at the federal level, and legalize cannabis at the federal level.
No more inter-jurisdictional conflicts due to highways and illegal entry points/hidden smuggled goods enabling illegal articles to spread despite local laws. Not to mention there being less need for these guns as cartels lose leverage in the market to legalized options.

You could break the back of the illicit drug trade entirely by flat out legalizing every substance across the board, but again . . . baby steps.

America wasn’t built in a day.

• Detecting driving under the influence of marijuana is a significant challenge for law enforcement. Currently, there is no roadside test for marijuana intoxication.

This is not true. Let me again point to your colleagues up here in the nation of polar bears and igloos.

Currently, select Canadian police forces are limited to using theDraeger DrugTest 5000, the sole approved device for roadside drug screenings. But in April, the federal government announced its intention to approve a second device. The SoToxa from Abbott Laboratories recently underwent a 30-day public review and, if given the green light, it will join the Draeger tester as one of two federally approved devices.

Here’s everything you need to know about roadside testing for THC

Whilst the reliability of such tests has been called into question (it is not known if such results will hold up in a court of law if/when a case ever goes that far), such devices DO currently exist. Though the technology is in its infancy at this point (not unlike the rest of the legal cannabis industry), I don’t doubt that current day research will result in future innovations. 

The technology is coming.

It’s certainly interesting that this was never a concern before legalization. There have ALWAYS been high drivers on the roadways, just as the drug has always been among us. Why the increased vigilance on the substance (as it pertains to driving) now?

Makes the concern seem almost . . . reactionary. 

• Many States have had difficulties caused by conflicting state legislation and local ordinances, policies and procedures. The situation is even more complex because marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.

And here we have another argument from the realm of stupid. My solution . . . GET YOUR COLLECTIVE SHIT TOGETHER!

It is completely understandable why this is the case. The United States is full of older, opinionated people that are ignorant of the drug conversation. But they vote on it in droves, based on whatever reactionary scare fuel that the media platformed experts feed them. These people hold office at all levels of government, and such people are the reason why a budding industry worth billions of dollars STILL isn’t allowed to access the federal banking system. Proud consumers of all manner of other drugs, but overly judging of those that consume one of the first known to our species.

The solution is to join the 21st century and get Cannabis off the schedule 1 list.

Period.

One of the most salient concerns we have relates to the consequences of drug-impaired driving. We have all witnessed our share of crashes and traffic congestion, as well as vehicular, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. Law enforcement officials are uniquely qualified to discuss the issues and concerns related to impaired driving. Our efforts to curb drunk driving have met with a great deal of success over the last decade, but drug impaired driving is not the same as alcohol impaired driving and our understanding of the impairments due to drug impairment is limited.

Alcohol is unique among impairing drugs in that there is a documented correlation between blood levels and levels of impairment. This does not exist for other drugs and it has been shown to be non-existent for THC in marijuana. It is not possible to currently identify a valid impairment standard for marijuana or any other drug equivalent to the .08 percent BAC limit for alcohol. Exacerbating the problem is the matter of how to best create, implement and enforce the laws prohibiting impaired driving. In populous areas of our commonwealth, this is particularly concerning, where the risk of catastrophic consequences related to a drug impaired driving incident is exponentially more probable.

Again, it is a work in progress.

Also, since there (again) have always been stoners (and therefore, people driving under the influence of THC), should this not already have been a priority? Is it not your JOB to be on top of this?

I am reading this as an argument that we should not legalize weed because law enforcement has been neglecting to do their assigned JOB for the past 10/20/30/40 years.

The percentages of traffic deaths related to the use of recreational marijuana doubled in Washington state in the year retail marijuana sales were allowed. In Colorado, marijuana is now involved in more than one of every five deaths on the road. These statistics highlight why it is necessary to wait until we have a better understanding of the impacts and management of marijuana intoxication.

Given the statistics that are available today, it is clear and indisputable that the use of recreational marijuana negatively impacts the motoring, pedestrian and special needs community and that innocent people in states where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized are at a greater risk of harm, injury and death due to the increased numbers of drug impaired drivers.

1.) In the case of Washington, here is the data.

The percentage of Washington state drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled since the state legalized the drug for recreational use, a study has found.

The study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests the growing use and acceptance of marijuana could be increasing the risks of driving, AAA officials said.

“If a state were to legalize marijuana for recreational use, it’s reasonable to assume that THC-positive drivers will start to show up more in fatal crashes,” said Jacob Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research.

Otherwise known as . . . wait for it . . . DUH.

Credit to AAA, however. That comment was not meant for them because they had the intellectual honesty to follow up with:

But AAA officials also acknowledge that the study found only a correlation, not a causative link. Over the study period, traffic fatalities declined overall. The study also reflects some of the unknowns and difficulties that remain in consistently analyzing marijuana’s effects on drivers and creating the sort of legal framework and law enforcement methods used to combat drunken driving.

2.) https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/5/18210827/marijuana-traffic-fatality-deaths-transportation-public-health

A study published today in the journal Addiction found that, on average, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state (all of which have legalized medical marijuana) had about one additional traffic death per million residents. The same effect was true for the neighboring states, probably because people drive across state lines to buy cannabis. In total, there were about 170 extra deaths in the first six months after legalization.

Interestingly, the increase was temporary, and rates went back to normal after about a year. Though the study wasn’t designed to explain this result, it could be that legalizing recreational marijuana initially leads to an increase in newer, more inexperienced users, says study co-author Tyler Lane, a post-doc in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University in Australia.

Since I don’t know where Mr. Bohn got the 1 in 5 stat that he cited for Colorado, I’m going to assume it to be old news and leave it at that. If you want more of an attempt from me, cite your source next time.

Law enforcement executives in the commonwealth need answers that are supported by valid data and scientific research. Current information validates our concerns and strengthens our collective resolve that the commonwealth of Pennsylvania should not legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

It is funny to see you requesting answers that are quote “supported by valid data and scientific research” after having read this article.

Your arguments are moronic, futile and ultimately life-altering (if not deadly) for all current and future victims in the dragnet that is status quo American drug policy. The time for weak excuses and inaction ended decades ago.

If your duty is to serve and protect the citizens of whatever jurisdiction is applicable, the time has come for you to DO YOUR FUCKING JOB. The war on drugs has been a racially tinted, obscenely expensive epic failure of mammoth proportions. The time for change is now. 

My solution?

#DefundThePolice

US

https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-defunding-the-police-really-means/

Canada

Defund the Police – Demands

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.