My turn: Marijuana bill is off the mark

Posted: Monday, December 12, 2005

I am writing in regards to the article "Governor set to push anti-marijuana legislation again" that was published Dec. 9. I would just like to comment on the ignorance established behind these ideas. Keep in mind, this rebuttal is coming from a law-abiding citizen, born and raised in Juneau and under the age of 25.

The point of this bill is "the state wants to prevent marijuana from getting into the hands of children by going after local growers." Seeing as how you have people like John Fielder, a clinical physiologist at St. Mary's medical hospital in San Francisco, phoning the Senate and saying such quotes as this, "If I smoke marijuana, I may not be led to rob a store. But I can lose my job and then be motivated to steal." And coming from Dean Guaneli, "The bill hearings are a platform to get testimony on the record, so that if the bill passes, the findings can be used in court." But why would those hearings have to come from health care "experts?" Why not somebody who is street smart, representing their own town?

Being born and raised in Juneau, I see alcohol as one of the biggest problems in this state, let alone the capital. It is obvious that this problem is not being targeted to be resolved. I have personally seen people lose their jobs due to alcohol use, steal, beg, not to mention the amount of violent crimes and deaths that involve alcohol. I also know that most of the disgusting events that happen due to alcohol use don't even get reported. That to me seems like a bigger problem. I am against drinking and driving and alcoholism, but does a bill ever get sent to the Senate about it? No.

If marijuana was legalized and controlled, like alcohol, the amount of alcohol related crimes, especially violent crimes would go down immensely in Juneau within two years. I don't believe or respect the idea that marijuana promotes violence or failure. I think marijuana is irrelevant to the classified narcotics that are flourishing here. For example, does anybody question the dangerous, extremely addictive narcotics that are clouding this town like OxyContin or methamphetamines? That would seem like a more obvious target than marijuana. The "gateway drug" scenario is completely bypassed at this realm. I recently spoke to someone under the age of 21 that said they spend about $1,300 a month on OxyContin. So, where is the problem here? Is it in marijuana, or is it uselessly targeted to be a problem?

Having seen addictions happen and all the bad things related to these narcotics and alcohol use, I have not seen anything bad happen from marijuana use. And what about the amount of marijuana-related violent crimes or car accidents? Is there a statistic for that? For years on end marijuana has been targeted as a "downfall to society" but why not look beyond the ignorance? Does anybody remember how many doctors in this town signed a petition last year promoting the legal use of marijuana? Around 14 respected doctors. Would they link their names to any of the other drugs I have mentioned in this article? Most of people addicted to these narcotics are under the age of 21. To be a full-on addict at that age seems like a huge problem to me. You don't see marijuana smokers going through violent withdrawals that include uncontrollable shaking and vomiting. And to top it off, we don't even have the facilities to rehabilitate these addicts. There is no methadone clinic. There is no methamphetamine specific treatment center. There isn't even court-ordered, in-patient alcohol treatment for extended periods. But what do I know? I'm just a 23-year-old citizen that doesn't get asked.

• Juneau resident Rachel White works at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

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