Question 2 foes still cling to biases


Friday, January 09
I am concerned about the tone in your front page article concerning the new rules for marijuana following the overwhelming passage of Question 2 ("Answers few on Question 2," Eagle, Jan. 3.) The article quotes District Attorney David Capeless, who fought hard against Question 2, but no one who fought to protect young people found with an ounce or less of marijuana from a permanent criminal record. The article seemed to me to promote the bias of those opposed to Question 2.

Specifically, the article states, "Advocates of the relaxed law claim it erases the criminal stain of being caught with small amounts of it (critics claim) it sends a mixed message about drugs, especially to youth, and also may help smart drug dealers, who likely will figure out ways to avoid criminal prosecution by carrying smaller quantities of marijuana."

There are two basic fallacies with this statement. First, of course, is about the drug dealers being more careful. The drug dealers — the real criminals — come to Berkshire County from Springfield, Boston, Albany and New York City. They bring marijuana by the pound or kilo. They already cut it up into one ounce bags which get sold on the street. The kids are not the drug dealers.

But the more basic fallacy is the bias that marijuana is a gateway drug to the use of other drugs. Any therapist will attest to this being untrue; our experience is that a handful of pot smokers become "potheads" (smoking pot every day) but a vast proportion of young people smoke marijuana occasionally, or have simply given it up.

Further, the gateway to other drugs comes not from marijuana, but from bad socio-economic conditions, hanging out with a bad crowd, or, and significantly, from well-meaning but addiction-ignorant physicians, who prescribe Percocet, Ativan and Xanax like candy. The principal resource text for the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), "Principals of Addiction Medicine," Third Edition, 2003, by Graham, Shultz, Mays-Smith and Ries & Wolford, states on page 261, "Cannibus (marijuana) use typically precedes involvement with other drugs such as stimulants, yet there is no scientific evidence of a neurobiological basis for such a 'gateway' effect."

We should be grateful for passage of Question 2 so that kids caught with an ounce or less of pot will not end up with a permanent criminal record.

Great Barrington



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