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Opinion: St. Louis Should Legalize Marijuana

November 1, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Crime, Drug Policy, Featured, Politics/Policy No Comments

Marijuana never should have been classified as am illegal drug to begin with. So why was it? A top bureaucrat didn’t want to be out of a job!

In 1929, a man called Harry Anslinger was put in charge of the Department of Prohibition in Washington, D.C. But alcohol prohibition had been a disaster. Gangsters had taken over whole neighborhoods. Alcohol — controlled by criminals — had become even more poisonous.

So alcohol prohibition finally ended — and Harry Anslinger was afraid. He found himself in charge of a huge government department, with nothing for it to do. Up until then, he had said that cannabis was not a problem. It doesn’t harm people, he explained, and “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the idea it makes people violent.

But then — suddenly, when his department needed a new purpose — he announced he had changed his mind. (Huffington Post)

He sold the public on the idea smoking weed caused “reefer madness.”

See the full propaganda film here. The madness has been decades of prohibition on a plant with remarkable medicinal qualities.

Poster for the 1930s propaganda film ‘Reefer Madness’

From Board Bill 180 introduced last week:

WHEREAS, in 2013, Board of Aldermen addressed marijuana possession in the City of St. Louis by passing Ordinance 69429, as codified in Part IV, Chapter 11.60, Title 11 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis;

WHEREAS, at least five cities, including Breckenridge, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Portland, Maine; South Portland, Maine; Washington, D.C., and eight states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada have legalized and regulated marijuana under state and local laws;

WHEREAS, cities and states have not seen significant increases in crime since legalization and regulation of marijuana, and many have seen slight decreases in crime;

WHEREAS, the Drug Enforcement Agency found that, overall, research does not support a direct causal relationship between regular marijuana use and other illicit drug use;

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Police Department has contended that it is understaffed by over 110 officers;

WHEREAS, federal law prohibition makes enforcement of state laws on marijuana by the City of St. Louis, including by the Metropolitan Police Department, redundant and wasteful of city resources;

WHEREAS, arresting, citing, and prosecuting marijuana offenders diverts police time away from crimes with victims. Nationally, 87% of all motor vehicle thefts and over 70% of robberies go unsolved, while law enforcement pursues over half a million arrests for marijuana possession. Regulating marijuana would free up law enforcement time and resources to focus on real crime;

WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of the City of Saint Louis that City resources only be devoted to issues of priority in ensuring public safety and protecting the quality of life for its residents;

WHEREAS, eliminating marijuana enforcement by local police may separate the market for marijuana from the market for more harmful substances, reducing the likelihood that marijuana consumers will be exposed to opiates or other dangerous drugs when they purchase marijuana;

WHEREAS, studies have found that a 48% reduction in patients’ opioid use after three months of medical marijuana treatment, 39% reduction in their opioid dosage, and 39% stopped using opioids altogether;

WHEREAS, researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health found that, in states that passed medical marijuana laws, fewer drivers killed in car crashes tested positive for opioids after the laws went into effect

Yes, this should be addressed at state & federal levels, but it’s not. We can’t afford to just sit around waiting for the pushes of old myths to admit they were wrong.

This bill is sponsored by Megan E. Green (15) and co-spomsored by the following:

I urge you to thank each of these six aldermen and for you to contact the other 22 to get BB180 passed.

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll I used the word “pot” because it’s an old term generally used only by those who oppose legalization.

Q: Agree or disagree: Pot is a dangerous drug, St. Louis Police should continue enforcing state & federal pot laws!

  • Strongly agree 8 [17.02%]
  • Agree 4 [8.51%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [2.13%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.13%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [2.13%]
  • Disagree 7 [14.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 23 [48.94%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.26%]

Clearly, many of those who responded still believe the propaganda.

— Steve Patterson

 

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