Commentary

November 9, , Mr. Guither twisted a news release about a new campaign to protect children from any legalized drugs. The release was issued by National Families in Action (NFIA), an organization that has worked for 33 years to help parents keep their kids safe, healthy, and drug-free. Mr. Guither said:

The entire campaign is about the assumption that marijuana will be legalized.

He went on to suggest that two of the campaign advisors agree with him. Mr. Guither’s statements are preposterous and devious. In spinning this story, he is proving why voters don’t trust legalization proponents –he can’t tell the truth.

Our news release said that NFIA is opposed to legalization of marijuana; it also said we understand there’s a chance that voters may disagree with us. With Proposition 19 on this year’s ballot and new propositions in the wings for 2012 in California (again), Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Nevada, that’s obvious. We don’t say that marijuana will be legalized, we say that it may be legalized.

NFIA’s stand is simple: we stand for children, and legalized marijuana will hurt children. Yet, should voters legalize marijuana in the future, we’ve developed 12 regulatory provisions that legislators can apply to propositions voters pass. The provisions insure that a legal marijuana industry will not market or sell the drug to children. That’s the purpose of our campaign. Mr. Guither dismisses us with this:

Of course, it’s the same old “what about the children” nonsense.

Nonsense? I guess he thinks children are disposable garbage when it comes to drugs; I guess he believes that drugs trump children.

We developed the 12 provisions with some of the country’s most knowledgeable and thoughtful experts about how to protect children from our two legal addictive drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The provisions take advantage of more than 150 years of experience with the tobacco and alcohol industries. Mr. Guither’s spin on the 12 provisions?

Of course, a lot of their claims and demands are nonsense.

Apparently Mr. Guither believes that anyone who uses facts to protect children from drugs is disposable garbage in the face of legalizing drugs.

With voices like Pete Guither spinning for legalization proponents, it’s no wonder California voters didn’t approve Proposition 19. Mr. Guither’s lust for legal marijuana leaves children as less than an afterthought. Parents in California and other states may think otherwise.

Jeannine F. Addams, Member of the Board of Directors, National Families in Action.

32 Comments

  • By chris, November 9, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

    I’m a regular at pete’s site. You seem new to the blogging scene, so here’s a tip: cherry picking phrases out of context is intellectually dishonest and lazy. Its also a logical fallacy to use straw man arguments and appeals to emotion to try and make your point and discrediting his claims. How about you do this method: consider the ways that marijuana prohibition harms children, and compare them to a system where marijuana is regulated and sold to adults in licensed shops to adults under the threat of losing their license, and therefore their livelihood if business owners sell to children.

  • By Richard Brown, November 9, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

    You have it just right. Let’s not let any mis-characterization go unchallenged. Maybe, just maybe the proponents of legalization will come to realize that there are other rights and desires that need to be protected.

  • By Allan Erickson, November 9, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

    Really? Since when is a regulated product worse than that same product handled by thugs? Do we have Coors and Budweiser distributors involved in shootouts? Do we have liquor stores selling alcohol to minors?

    Prohibition is the problem. Be anti-drug all you want, we salute your efforts. But tell the truth. Did we reduce cigarette smoking by using early morning SWAT raids and testing our kids’ urine? No. We did it by using a dedicated, factual, health oriented program of education.

    Cannabis has been a part of human culture longer than we’ve been recording our history. In the words of DEA judge Young, cannabis is one the safest therapeutic substances known to man. It is our choice whether we respect the substances we consume. It is also our job to keep our business… our business. My business is not your business and my privacy is key to liberty in this country. Gardening isn’t a crime (well it wasn’t until this nation’s racist drugs prohibition began a century or so ago).

    And tell Linda Taylor that she should show some stones and meet me in public debate in Modesto in December.

  • By Chris, November 9, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

    While I would love to go through point by point to explain the expected results of each of your polices, have an actual dialogue to further discussion on the topic in a sensible and honest manner, I know this comment will possibly be deleted, and at best I would hope that this will be read and scoffed at throughout its reading. This is the wrong approach and shows intellectual weakness, which truly makes me sad. I hope you read past this point.

    First of all, know and understand this statement: I do not hate you, or what you are trying to achieve. I only want you to understand the deeper implications of the policies you endorse. Your goal of protecting children should not rely on arguments and ideas that have only been thought through at an emotional level, which is clearly evident throughout your website. Censoring comments that don’t agree with your viewpoint is a good way to ensure that your site is free from any meaningful discussion and shows that you have no intention of considering differing opinions in an objective manner. Most sites opposing the legalization do not even allow comments because the internet is dominated by proponents of drug policy reform. Ignore that first comment of mine, because I was posting from my phone and wasn’t able to present my arguments as well. Now that I’m back on my pc, I can get to it.

    If you have done the research and are sure of your approach, you should be able to refute my aruments in their entirety.You shouldn’t be against the idea of legalizing drugs if evidence truly suggests that is the best way of protecting children, and I can give you those arguments. Expecting that marijuana prohibition will protect children more than a legal market is about as pointless as expecting prohibition to stop adults from using it. If you want to read the best guess at how recreational drugs can be regulated in today’s society, look at Transform’s Blueprint for Regulation (http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blueprint%20download.htm).

    You take offense to the statement “Of course, it’s the same old “what about the children” nonsense”. I had thought that Pete explained what was wrong with your arguments in his post, but the implications of what you suggest are so obvious to most of us there it is needless for him to repeat them every time. That that you named your website over the the most tired logical fallacy really says something about the expected quality of any arguments proposed here. This appeal to emotion argument used so commonly when discussing the prohibition of ANY drug that it was enumerated in the “Themes in Chemical Prohibition” (Drugs in Perspective, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1979. http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/history/ticp.html). Children are always used as an example why we cannot legalize a drug for adults, because: “The drug is associated with the corruption of young children, particularly their sexual corruption”. You also fall into the trap of demonizing Pete with straw man arguments, which is another predictable tactic: “Anyone questioning any of the above assumptions is bitterly attacked and characterized as part of the problem that needs to be eliminated.”

    Next, you take offense and suggest that Pete does not care about children because he says your polices are nonsense. There’s a reason for that, and it comes from understanding more than just the surface argument. It’s commonly claimed that alcohol and tobacco are so bad for society that the taxes we collect do not cover their costs. Then, it is implied that the same will be true for a legal, taxed marijuana market. Please think about why this does not logically follow. Do you really have any idea what those costs are? You do not. Our best guess comes from a Canadian study (http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/publications/cannabis/bck/7) which found that the cost per user for health related costs was $20 for cannabis, compared to $165 per user for alcohol and $800 per user for tobacco, per year. However, the costs to enforce the prohibition of cannabis was far greater than legal problems with alcohol or tobacco. The take-away from this is that without prohibition, there is very little cost for marijuana to society. Add this to the fact that we are currently passing these costs on to taxpayers while collecting no taxes at all for the sales of marijuana – it all goes to untaxed the black market. Knowing this, you have to chalk this one up for a legal market. And there are many, many, more arguments like this I could make. There is no one sentence argument against this, so please don’t respond with generalities or other logical fallacies. Respond with a real argument, have a real discussion, and make some real progress in drug policy.

  • By claygooding, November 9, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    I believe Mr Guither was referring to your repeated battle cry when protesting drug reform.
    How can you claim to want to protect the children from marijuana by leaving the market in the criminals hands? Criminals don’t check ID’s.

    Legalization offers you a tried method of reducing availability to young people of regulation,the same as alcohol and tobacco.
    While it is true that our regulations of those products are not perfect and kids do occasionally obtain them,they are harder for teens everywhere to get because of regulation than drugs are without
    regulations.

    The only way we can really protect our children and grand children from the biggest harm found in marijuana is to remove that harm,the
    law.

  • By DanM, November 9, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

    Thanks for plugging DrugWarRant.com. I think that any visitor that takes the time to really look at that site will soon learn that they too are about the safety of your children. In fact they have the safety of all in mind on that site. Children, parents, ordinary citizens, police, government…

    Prohibition inevitably creates a black market for whatever the government or people deem untouchable. These same black markets develop distribution networks and turf enforcement mechanisms, which we all hear about on the news these days. Gangs aren’t fighting over which blocks to call home, but rather which blocks are theirs to control the distribution of black market goods – their income. These same gangs would be just as happy to sell anyone including children: marijuana, cocaine, heroin or other illicit substances. Many of these same black market outlets can also set your little ones up with guns for a few extra dollars if they are interested.

    Removing the black market through legalization, not decriminalization, is the only way to take back the inner-city, and at the same time make sure that the children in your neighborhood are safer from their wares. And these same black markets at the real “gateway”, because if they don’t have one thing to sell they don’t mind suggesting some really “good” alternatives – they are sales first and foremost.

    If a parent gets caught with 1oz of marijuana you can almost guarantee that the police will start calling it distribution. At that point the children get removed from the home, put in state care, lawyers fees and plea bargains generally send the parent to prison for a time. Now that parent, upon release has a record that makes employment much harder to find. In the meantime the children become wards of the state and that never turns out good either.

    Then there’s always the SWAT team raids on households with the dogs shot, people terrified, and nothing found except a used pipe and police calling it a job done right. Nevermind the bewildered homeowner that suspects a home invasion and reaches for a baseball bat or gun for defense and then ends up dead because 10 people were all shouting things in unison and none of it was intelligible.

    We all want this to be a better place to live, but the current prohibition on marijuana isn’t doing this. It’s time for a sensible change with sensible regulations. We can teach our children the truth about these substances so that they can know the pitfalls and dangers that they entail, not the often made up rhetoric designed to scare them like a Brothers’ Grimm story.

    We truly can work together on these issues, but it also requires one to put aside the notions that a weed can be completely controlled by just saying “NO!”

  • By ezrydn, November 10, 2010 @ 1:11 am

    There’s only one question I have. What, if any, has Prohibition or your organization done since Prohibition III went into effect, to actually “protect” the children? Children say it’s easier and easier, year by year, for them to lay their hands on drugs. More so than tobacco or alcohol. What have you done and where are the statistics to prove it? We’ll wait, but not long. All you’ve done so far is keep drugs in the black market, allowing any kid with the cash to get whatever he/she wants. In reality, you haven’t done a thing to protect the children. Nothing, zip, zilch, NADA! You’ve foght to keep the “status quo” with is their drug supply. You may have “attempted” to make changes but what actual, real life changes HAVE you made?

  • By Chris, November 10, 2010 @ 2:17 am

    “While it is true that our regulations of those products are not perfect and kids do occasionally obtain them,they are harder for teens everywhere to get because of regulation than drugs are without
    regulations.”

    Clay, be perfectly honest on here. You know that kids get alcohol and tobacco far more than occasionally. But an adult buys it from a regulated establishment at some point, or they get it from their parents, or a retailer risks losing their license to do so. It’s going to be impossible to ever stop that from happening, but the presence of at least one adult between a drug and child using it can only be thought of as a good thing; it is an opportunity to teach responsible usage or learn about irresponsible use already going on.

    Yet I’m supposed to believe it is preferable to pretend that by keeping marijuana illegal, where it is sold from peer to peer sometimes with no adults involved, or by adults who have no incentive not to sell to kids, that children are being protected? These dealers don’t have to give education on responsible use. Neither do adults because we instead tell children that responsible use of illegal drugs doesn’t and can’t exist. It happens anyway, so we should deal with it the same way we deal with other drugs: honest education and regulation of distribution.

  • By Maria, November 10, 2010 @ 3:05 am

    I’m disappointed in the tone of this post. You are an organization that purports to understand the inevitability and the sanity of sounder drug policies but a deeper reading of this site lends me to believe this is just another well-meaning but misguided group directly fed DEA and drug czar lies. You’ve called someone devious, who for years has worked to expose the dangers inherent in prohibition and the drug war, and you accuse him and all those like him, that are fighting for legalization to be monsters who think children are garbage. That’s vile.

    And what is really galling is that you do not stand up against those who will continue the real abuses. Because you are so very right, there is much more to this fight than the right to grow a plant or smoke a joint. And that is Mr. Guither’s larger point, if you had so much as spent a moment reading his blog you’d understand this. What is at stake is not just slogans and saving poster children but putting together the very real foundations of a civil society and by this extension we protect our very real children. Because one day they will no longer be children anymore, they will grow up to be adults in our imperfect world. So, what society shall we give them? What society will our government “allow” us to give them?

    It is disappointing but not surprising that you will not stand up to those in government who only exist to twist our parental emotions in order to protect an agenda that is worth billions of dollars worldwide, an agenda that feeds a prison and judicial system that is choked to the brim with tragedy, an agenda that gives massive control to real criminals and makes criminals out of regular people, and an agenda that harms children.

    Most responsible people of all stripes believe that children shouldn’t have access to substances that can harm them and that they shouldn’t be exposed to situations that carry undue risk of harm. But an unregulated, black market, and criminal enterprise is about as harmful and irresponsible as we can get. Alcohol prohibition has proven this before, and alcohol and legal drug abuse has proven that while regulations are important they will not stop those who have no sense of responsibility to themselves or to others – either to their parents or to their offspring. Education, treatment, and a hope for the future is what can prevent and counter drug abuse. Only these can encourage responsible use and responsible living. I think most of us can agree on this?

    Blindly and crudely attacking the people who share your very real concerns but who have also chosen to disparage and mock the shrillness and hysterics of your style will not help you and it only works to bring us further apart. It also does little to address the most important and often neglected talking point when talking about saving the children.

    Parents themselves need to parent their children. We need the resources and real information to educate ourselves and to educate our children. The governments job isn’t to parent our kids, and anyone who truly cares for them knows and understands what this means.

    Wine is not evil. Pain killers aren’t evil. Marijuana is not evil. What is evil is the idea that a government has the right to control the private lives and choices of citizenry through violence, intimidation, coercion, and threats. So yes, every moment I work to rollback these abuses, you can bet that I’m thinking about the children.

  • By TrebleBass, November 10, 2010 @ 4:18 am

    Do minors kill other minors over their alcohol dealing business or tobacco dealing business? Minors do sometimes kill other minors over their marijuana dealing businesses. That wouldn’t happen if it was legal.

    About your twelve provisions: i’d be for number 6, possibly 7, 8 (but changing it to actual impairment, not just metabolites in the body), and 10. 1 and 4 i’d be okay with as well but am not crazy about; seems that if we are going to do that we should have a campaign for prohibiting alcohol ads as well (and if you’re doing that, props for that). 9, let the employer decide. 11 seems fine in principle too (is alcohol controlled by the fda? that’s something i don’t know) 12, as long as there’s a report on everything else as well, sure.

  • By malcolm kyle, November 10, 2010 @ 10:54 am

    Prohibition has triggered the worst crime wave in history, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has escalated the number of people on welfare who can’t find employment due to their felony status, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has creating a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has made dangerous substances available in schools and prisons, so how has that helped kids?

    prohibition has raised gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has creating a prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has removed many important civil liberties from their parents, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has put many previously unknown and contaminated drugs on our streets, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has escalating Theft, Muggings and Burglaries, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has overcrowding the courts and prisons, thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are hurting and terrorizing others, so how has that helped kids?

    Prohibition has evolved local street gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal, so how has that helped kids?

  • By Robert Coram, November 10, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

    Chris is wrong in stating that it is a fallacy to pull one sentence out of an argument and use that as a rebuttal. This is how lawyers conduct a defamation suit. If the pro-marijuana argument is sound, then every brick in the structure should be sound.If the removal of one brick — or one sentence — causes it to fall down, then the structure is weak and unstable. Chris, how about less emotion and more logic?

  • By LynnB, November 10, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    Most of these posts are not addressing the issue: Mr. Guither dismisses the claims and policies to protect children as “nonsense.” If he cared about protecting children, he would not say that it is “nonsense” and he would give credence to the motives of the Families in Action campaign. Regarding the idea that legalizing will protect children, this site has much information about how children are NOT protected from alcohol and tobacco, which are legal and are used by children more than marijuana and much more than other drugs of abuse. So the argument that legalizing will protect them is not valid. It will increase use among children unless a different strategy is pursued from that of legal alcohol and tobacco. Even prescription drugs are legal and regulated by physicians and are abused, so legalization is not the answer to prevent abuse.

    Considering that the vast majority of addiction begins in adolescence, the prevention and reduction of use of all drugs during adolescence is needed across the board for both legal and illegal drugs. Most parents don’t want their children to do drugs and they don’t want pro-drug propaganda and messages undermining their message to teens not to use drugs and alcohol.

    People like Mr. Guither think that is nonsense–that idea in and of itself is child abuse because it assumes children don’t need to be protected from drugs because scientific research confirms that this is where addiction and abuse starts. Those that become adults without using substances or starting substance use later have much better outcomes. So let’s all get on the same page and develop strategies to reduce drug use among adolescents.

    It is not a question of using one drug over another or one is better or worse than another. Teenagers should not smoke or drink or do drugs for the sake of their mental and physical health and education. This is something everyone should be able to agree on, including Mr. Guither. Some will say this is not realistic. I personally grew up before marijuana was available to high school students and alcohol was also much less used; I do remember some clandestine tobacco use in school, although it was punished.

    Today, where I live, marijuana use is rampant and detrimental to teenagers’ education. This would be preventable if schools, parents, and the media etc. took stronger measures instead of saying it can’t be done. You may laugh at the the “Just say No” campaign, but it actually cut marijuana use in half for a time. We need a new prevention and education campaign, and it should be implemented prior to any legalization.

  • By Richard Brown, November 10, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    Hello supporters of legalization. Most of the pro-legalization comments posted on this site so far seem to want to debate how to debate. That misses the point of what this Campaign is all about. Although NFIA opposes legalization because of the medical ill-effects legalization poses to children and teens. the Campaign is not about legalization per se; instead, it poses an important question for those who favor and those who do not favor legalization. What would be useful is to discuss the issue of legalization vis a vis the effect on children. The But What About the Children? Campaign calls for certain provisions in law that would protect children and teens if legalization were to occur. If you begin to address these proposals, some common ground might eventually be found. That could lead to positive outcomes for all concerned.

  • By Chris, November 10, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

    “Chris is wrong in stating that it is a fallacy to pull one sentence out of an argument and use that as a rebuttal.”

    I said that it was intellectually dishonest, not a logical fallacy. Legal arguments based on literal words on paper, regardless of intent or (usually) interpretation. I don’t claim to be a lawyer, so I have no comment on how they operate. But on the contrary, logical arguments are the sum of their parts. Saying you should be able to just remove sentence from an argument and have it still be coherent is like saying you can remove words from sentences without affecting the meaning. I implore you to learn the structure of prohibition compared to arguments for legalization – the justifications are build on far more unstable ground.

    And Richard, the reason for an explanation of the rules of debate is because the prohibitionist side is notorious for not participating in reasonable debate. An example of this occurred only days ago when the Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske appeared on CNN hours before our side, instead of in a live, moderated debate against each (http://blog.norml.org/2010/11/06/confirmed-cnn-goes-norml-tonight/). They choose to avoid debating proponents of drug legalization whenever possible, and never under oath. Now THAT embarrassing when it happens, I watched a congressional hearing earlier this year and the Drug Czar got reamed by the head of the committee when they asked for real evidence that our drug policies had any positive effects.

    I wholeheartedly expected responses such as deleting or even closing the comments, banning people, etc, or at best an outrageous emotional response and attacks at individuals similar to the topic post when I posted my first comment on here. So far, you’ve shown that you’re willing to participate, and that is something I would like to continue. We desperately want to debate your side, but the response we’ve always gotten so far has included being talked down to, asking “but what about the children?” to sidetrack the discussion into an emotional flurry of fallacies, and having old, outdated studies used as evidence, statistics from press releases without objective analysis being used interchangeable as facts. Another tactic is to get hung up over wording, spelling, etc. Don’t debate my words, debate my arguments.

  • By Chris, November 10, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

    “What would be useful is to discuss the issue of legalization vis a vis the effect on children. The But What About the Children? Campaign calls for certain provisions in law that would protect children and teens if legalization were to occur. If you begin to address these proposals, some common ground might eventually be found.”

    That’s exactly what I came here for. I want you to understand the effects of prohibition and your proposed guidelines for legalization and their effects on children. So far, we’ve only scratched the surface, but here are some links for you to consider: http://reason.com/blog/2010/11/09/eat-a-bagel-lose-your-baby and http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig3/bernard1.html. I believe if you knew what I know and have learned what I have learned, you would agree that legalization is the best way to protect children. We’re a ways away from that point, but the first thing that needs to go is the knee-jerk reaction that keeping marijuana illegal somehow protects children and restricts their access to the drug. It does clearly does not, otherwise we would not be discussing this. Statistics about how kids reported it was far easier to get than alcohol or tobacco are often cited in defense of this argument. The other point I want gone is that honest education about the effects and dangers of marijuana is not given to children (or adults). We didn’t reduce tobacco smoking by making it illegal, we did it through honest education on the dangers. And yes, this is reflected in some of your provisions. We now know there is no reason to allow advertising of tobacco, especially to kids. This is a sane regulation, total prohibition is not.

  • By TrebleBass, November 10, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

    Richard, about provision #3, Automatic Repeal: How about automatic repeal of prohibition if the number of kids selling marijuana exceeds certain levels?

  • By TrebleBass, November 11, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

    Another thing, do you think babies need to be stripped from their mothers if the mothers test positive for marijuana while in the delivery room? I’m not condoning smoking marijuana during pregnancy, i suppose there are probably some dangers to that, but does it necessitate separating a family over? To put this in some perspective:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_alcohol_syndrome

  • By LynnB, November 11, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

    Hi TrebleBass:

    Where are mothers stripped from their babies in the delivery room?

    From what I gather, the research done on pregnant women smoking marijuana has shown enough consequences to the baby for women to be instructed not to smoke it, but research is still ongoing. The tendency of the marijuana lobby to say marijuana is relatively harmless may encourage women to smoke marijuana while pregnant. As a prudent person, any pregnant woman should avoid any substance which may have a negative effect on her fetus and parents should also avoid using substances around children or when caring for children. It is difficult to determine exact effects of marijuana since many women who use marijuana also smoke cigarettes and many also are polydrug users.

    Separation is an extreme measure, but clearly, drug/alcohol/tobacco use during pregnancy shows negligence on the part of the mother. What would be a reasonable measure to protect children from drug using parents?

    http://www.thinkpregnancy.org/english/marijuana.htm

  • By Jeni, November 12, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

    I don’t follow the logic of ending weed prohibition. We ended alcohol prohibition, and how did it help society? A new study, just out, found that alcohol causes massive harm to society. Why should I assume that legal marijuana won’t also cause massive harm?

    Legal weed’s harm may be slightly different from legal alcohol’s, but just like alcohol, it’s addictive and impairing, and therefore likely to cause all of the same kinds of problems.

    Legal weed’s harm would be different from illegal weed’s only in that weed smokers would no longer be felons.

    Legal or not, alcohol has proven harmful to society. Legal or not, weed is harmful too. To me it seems like wishful thinking to think that legal weed = zero societal problems.

  • By TrebleBass, November 12, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

    Where are mothers stripped from their babies in the delivery room?

    Well, I don’t know really (you kind of got me on that one); maybe that never really happens for marijuana. I know it happens for other drugs, though, and I had a notion that it may happen for marijuana as well, but maybe that notion was wrong. I’m glad to see you do not agree that it should be done, though. In the link Chris posted (http://reason.com/blog/2010/11/09/eat-a-bagel-lose-your-baby) they did it because they thought it was morphine. If she had tested positive for marijuana, i’m not sure what the procedure would have been.

    Children can get separated from their parents if their parents sell marijuana, though, which seems wrong to me. If a parent works for Coors they do not separate the family.

    What would be a reasonable measure to protect children from drug using parents?

    You have not suggested anything yourself. For pregnancy, telling mothers not to smoke any marijuana at all is the most prudent thing for now, because we don’t have enough knowledge yet. With alcohol i’ve heard it’s okay to drink a little if you’re pregnant, but drinking too much can cause serious damage. (The link you provide conflicts with other links i’ve read (at least the headline at the top of the alcohol page, that reads “even a little can cause brain damage”, which as far as i understand, is wrong: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/drinking-while-pregnant/). Maybe for marijuana there is also an acceptable dose, but since we don’t know what that is yet, the advice should be none. After pregnancy, I think the same measures that are used to protect children from alcohol using parents should suffice for marijuana.

    “The tendency of the marijuana lobby to say marijuana is relatively harmless may encourage women to smoke marijuana while pregnant.”

    Marijuana IS relatively harmless (in relation, that is, to alcohol and tobacco (for most users; i’m aware for a minority of people it is possible it would be safer to drink or smoke cigarettes than it would be to smoke marijuana), and in relation to the level of harm that is portrayed by people who want it illegal). Very few people would say that it is responsible for mothers to smoke marijuana while pregnant. If what you’re suggesting is that we shouldn’t debate marijuana is relatively harmless, then I would have to disagree. We can’t control the interpretation of every person in society, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss the issue openly.

    Editor’s Comment:

    We agree that taking newborns away from their parents because the mom ate a bagel with poppy seeds on it and tested positive on a drug test just before giving birth is ludicrous and are grateful to the ACLU for standing up for parental (and child) rights.

    But we disagree with your assessment that drinking during pregnancy is okay. You cite a new study reported on a New York Times blog as evidence that pregnant mothers can now drink small amounts of alcohol without hurting their babies and add that a website warning pregnant mothers that “even a little can cause brain damage” is wrong. The Times blogger has fallen into the trap of assuming that the findings of a single study can trump more than 10,000 studies that say otherwise. She has let down her readers because, judging from her slightly snide tone, she had a point to prove (pregnant moms ought to be able to drink alcohol).

    This research studied 5 year olds whose mothers drank nothing during pregnancy compared to those who drank “little” (1 to 2 drinks per week). The children of the moms who drank did slightly better (two to three percentage points) on socioemotional and cognitive tests. We can’t conclude from this that it’s okay for mothers-to-be to drink alcohol during pregnancy because some negative effects don’t show up until children are older than 5, because other scientists have not yet had a chance to scrutinize the methods used by these researchers, and because the study is so new that other scientists have not had time to try to duplicate the findings in similar research.

    A single study rarely turns a multitude of studies on their heads, something we all should remember. So how do we sort out the truth? The National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health contains some 20 million citations of biomedical research studies that have been published in academic journals. You can search this database here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.

    Search PubMed for studies on Fetal Alcohol Effects and let us know afterwards if you still think it’s okay for moms to drink alcohol while they are pregnant.

    While there, you might want to look up some marijuana studies too so we can base our discussion about whether marijuana is harmless on science. You can start with the Health button on the navigational bar of our But What about the Children? Campaign website. Researchers looked at all studies done on marijuana effects over the past ten years and published their findings in Lancet, a medical journal published in England. We have quoted their summary verbatim here: http://www.butwhataboutthechildren.org/?page_id=25

  • By Susan Preston, November 17, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    The intensity, the “intellectual” brain-cudgeling, the very shrillness of the pro-dope faction sounds like unhealthy desperation to have legal access to the drug. Not a very reassuring picture, in opposition to claims of the drug’s harmlessness. Ad hominem fallacy? I think not as, in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue. (Wikipedia – sorry, but it’s the quickest to get to.) Certainly the exception meets the case here.

    Jeni’s last paragraph says it all. It would be much more useful if the pro-drug intellectuals would put all the mental energy that goes into argument to better use, coming up with a solution to peoples’ craving for mind-altering substances. Sounder, saner parents are the ultimate protection for children.

  • By TrebleBass, November 20, 2010 @ 1:20 am

    About other ideas to replace prohibition: Tobacco advertising is so heavily regulated that it’s almost non-existent, and the use of tobacco has dropped dramatically in the last decade or so. Doing the same to alcohol advertising would probably be extremely powerful in improving health, social well-being, and functionality. Prohibiting alcohol would not. If there was a strong social movement towards stricter regulation of alcohol (including things like ballot initiatives), we would be able to get there. There are other ideas, like raising the tax on alcohol (which would affect heavy drinkers but not casual drinkers), and stricter quality control on cigarrettes (imagine if they were forced to sell cigarrettes filled with pure tobacco instead of the chemical-filled stuff they sell. It would still be pretty harmful, but it would be less so.) Lobbyists would fight, of course, but if we have been able to regulate tobacco advertising to the extent we have, we should be able to do more, and do the same with alcohol (and legal marijuana).

  • By TrebleBass, November 20, 2010 @ 3:07 am

    “The intensity, the “intellectual” brain-cudgeling, the very shrillness of the pro-dope faction sounds like unhealthy desperation to have legal access to the drug. ”

    The emotion you sense is not about access to the drug. We have access to the drug. It’s about wanting equality. Let me ask you this: are you half as interested in stopping alcohol advertising and implementing quality control over tobacco (which is attainable, by the way, if enough people advocate for it) as you are in criminalizing marijuana? Smoking marijuana might be unhealthy, but wanting equality is not.

  • By Chris, November 25, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

    It’s always annoying to see people frame this issue as “dope smokers want to smoke dope legally”. I’ve met lots of smokers who don’t care about the issue any more than casually, because they have unrestricted easy access to all the weed they could ever want. We aren’t those people you’re thinking of.

    We despise prohibition and the societal mess that it causes. We’re in this not because weed is so harmless that it shouldn’t be illegal, but for legitimate reasons like not getting innocent people killed in SWAT raids, having students lose their college education over a drug arrest, families being broken up over arrests for growing or selling, restrictions on medical use and research (It could cure cancer, but who cares? It’s illegal), and the fact that it’s a giant waste of money. Police literally get paid overtime to fly helicopters into forests and pull weeds. And they’re not even good weeds.

    And yet no one has trouble getting or using any drug that they want. The problem is that the people producing and selling these drugs act like criminals because they are told they are criminals. The arguments are the same as those presented at the end of alcohol prohibition so there is no real need to think up any new ones (history does in fact repeat itself if you aren’t paying attention). Prohibitionists changed their stance on the issue they once supported after seeing market violence and increased irresponsible usage of alcohol. These were the issues that were important, not the right to legally drink alcohol.

  • By Chris, November 29, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

    “This is not a campaign to bring back intoxicating liquor, as is so often claimed by the fanatical dry. Intoxicating liquor is with us to-day and practically as accessible as it ever was. The difference mainly because of its illegality, is its greater destructive power, as evidenced on every hand. The sincere advocates of prohibition welcome efforts for real temperance rather than a continuation of the present bluff.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/walteredge.htm

    You need to recognize that history repeats itself. Walgreens became big business by selling medicinal alcohol during prohibition. Today we have medical marijuana. While it is far more useful than alcohol as medicine, it’s clear to see there are lots of people using it recreationally just to get around today’s prohibition law.

  • By Susan Preston, December 27, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

    TrebleBass asks “are you half as interested in stopping alcohol advertising and implementing quality control over tobacco as you are in criminalizing marijuana?” Yes, indeed, I am wholly as interested. Mind-altering, demonstrably dangerous substances have no place in a healthy, sane, sound society.

    TrebleBass, wanting “equality” with other poor souls who cannot take control of themselves is pretty feeble. I expect your true agenda, whether or not you acknowledge it to yourself, is to obtain easier and cheaper access to the drug to feed your habit.

    Chris says “The sincere advocates of prohibition welcome efforts for real temperance rather than a continuation of the present bluff.” I passionately advocate for real temperance- in alcohol use, in tobacco use, in use of any substance that does does not contribute to the genuine well-being of the user. Making/keeping it illegal to use or profit from harmful substances is, rather, one more effort toward real temperance.

    I agree that there are deplorable aspects of human nature which make it difficult to police illegality. However, the violence that follows a “prohibition” generally affects those who choose to break the prohibition (and their families – but they have chosen to put their families at risk). Yes, stories of raids on innocent people are a true shame, but, at least they are few enough to make the news. And it has been shown that determined non-druggies that want to clean up their immediate environment are able to. College students who break the law, people who grow dope are choosing to break the law.

    Chris, you say “The problem is that the people producing and selling these drugs act like criminals because they are told they are criminals.” Nonsense. They are people who knowingly break the laws of the community in which they choose to live. Such people ARE criminals. So are those who abuse the medical availability of marijuana.

    If you live in a society, you are expected to obey its laws. You may argue and work to change laws with which you disagree, but, until the law is changed, breaking it is CRIMINAL and those who do so are CRIMINALS. And responsible members of a society that wish to change its laws will respect the potential effect such a change will have on its members, especially its most vulnerable members. Irresponsible members of a society must be controlled, as they are lacking in internal control. No society can survive allowing its least responsible members free rein.

    So, prohibition didn’t “work” and had to be repealed; yet now there are more people drinking more and at earlier ages than ever before. The statistics on the proportion of ALL crime that has alcohol and/or drug use as a base cause is staggering. Ditto medical conditions.

    An example came to my attention recently: crime in Pitkin County, Colorado (Aspen) increased 300% with the availability of “medical” marijuana. Frightening to think of the consequences of full availability.

    More people are hurt by use of these substances, legal or illegal, than have ever been hurt by prohibition efforts. The cost of lost productivity and the increased welfare/medical expense to society due to users far outweighs costs of policing. The cost to civilization of the loss of brain function, of values, of ambition and ability in young people will be literally devastating. Legalizing yet another harmful, addictive, brain-altering substance is NO SOLUTION.

  • By Jeni, December 30, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

    “The problem is that the people producing and selling these drugs act like criminals because they are told they are criminals.”

    I get what you’re saying, Chris, but I have to disagree. I have a family member living with me who was addicted to weed. Possession, growing and dealing were not his only crimes. That was the LEAST of it. His addiction caused him to steal hundreds of dollars from everyone in this house, and to steal and pawn our possessions. His addiction caused him to burglarize neighboring homes for weed money (this is the crime he was finally arrested for), shoplift, drive high, crash into other cars and leave the scene, and to illegally use our credit cards to buy seeds and paraphernalia online. He was acting like a criminal because weed changed him and turned him into a criminal.

    Do not tell me that my family’s experience didn’t happen. Do not tell me it’s unique. This is a CLASSIC story of young people in rehab, we learned. He went to rehab and is sober today. He is on the Dean’s list in college, studying to be a drug counselor. He used to love weed and make posts just like yours! It was his life. Now he is sober, happy and against legalization. He is awesome.

    You’re absolutely right, legalizing weed would mean that no one would be arrested for possession or production of weed. But it will never be OK to steal, drive high or commit other crimes that a pot addict is driven to do.

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  • By Guaranteed Student Loans, January 16, 2012 @ 5:58 am

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  • By Ajax the Great, February 2, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

    About those twelve provisions (shown elsewhere on this website), I agree with #1, #6, #7, #11, and #12. I kind of agree with #4 and #10 as well, though I’m not too crazy about them. But I disagree with the rest. First, #2, and #3 are totally unrealistic and ridiculous given the fact that the majority of Americans currently will try cannabis at least once by the time they turn 21 despite the fact that it is illegal. Also, I see no good reason for the age limit to be 21; 18 is far more reasonable. Taxing cannabis would essentially eliminate the need for #5, but that’s a minor point. But #8 and #9 are absolutely draconian. It would be far better to set a rational limit on blood THC levels based on science (i.e. 5 ng/mL) than to bust sober drivers for minuscule levels of inactive metabolites. Also, the idea that PASSENGERS should not have any trace of cannabis makes absolutely no sense at all. And drug testing all employees and students has no place in a free society, and has not been proven to deliver any measurable benefits to society. It may even steer students and employees to alcohol, inhalants, and/or hard drugs (which are FAR worse than cannabis) since they have shorter or non-existent detection times. Thus, there is really no good reason why cannabis cannot be treated like tobacco currently is, though better quality control would be desirable.

  • By National Families in Action, February 3, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    The tobacco industry insisted that nicotine was not addictive even though its internal research showed the opposite. The industry lied about that to the public in order to keep selling cigarettes. It also relentlessly marketed cigarettes to children, who are more vulnerable to developing addiction than adults, to produce a new generation of lifetime customers every year to replace the 1,200 U.S. adults who die every day from smoking-related diseases. We know this from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998, the result of a lawsuit the state attorneys general brought against the tobacco industry. Internal industry documents never meant for the public to see were revealed in the discovery process of that lawsuit. A recent book about this, The Cigarette Century by Allan M. Brandt, will help you understand why marijuana, if legalized, should never be regulated like tobacco.

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