The Arizona Desert Lamp

Have you talked to your parents about the war on marijuana?

Posted in Politics by Evan Lisull on 20 April 2009

Kids Talking to Their ParentsToday is April 20, colloquially known as “420” –not only the high holiday for tokers worldwide, but a day that’s also become important for those who advocate against the federal war on drugs. Naturally, the day is accompanied with unsurprising administrative action, this time over at UC-Santa Cruz (HT: Inside Higher Ed):

University of California-Santa Cruz leaders are reaching out to parents of first-year students in an effort to curb the annual unsanctioned April 20 “4/20” marijuana festival this year.

According to a recently sent e-mail from Felicia McGinty, vice-chancellor of student affairs, delivered to in boxes of UC-Santa Cruz freshman parents, “I encourage you to talk with your student about his or her plans for 4/20. Ask direct questions about the choices they make and express your expectations regarding marijuana, alcohol or other drug use. Although students may not initiate discussion on this topic, your opinions and expectations can influence their behavior.”

We can’t agree more – you should “initiate discussion” with your parents. Ask them why marijuana is legally considered more dangerous than cocaine, in spite of a multitude of studies finding medical merit. Ask them why World of Warcraft is still legal, if ‘social withdrawal‘ is a negative enough effect to merit a nation-wide ban, or why alcohol hasn’t been banned to prevent drunk driving.

You should also tell them that while some users may grow up to be burrito tasters, potheads have grown up and had other jobs as well: entrepreneurs, professional basketball players, scientists, jazz legends, public policy gurus, Olympians, Newberry medalists, teachers, and presidents of the United States of America, among other professions. (HT: Radley Balko)

They might also want to know about the policy implications on the ban. While preventing kids from stupidly bobbing their heads to “Jammin'” might be a worthy cause, it is a cause that has resulted in the imprisonment of almost 100 people per hour, at a time when the U.S. prison system is reaching a breaking point. Here in Tucson, crime related to drug cartels – those same cartels that derive as much as 75 percent of their revenue from marijuana – has skyrocketed.

You should also ask them why our current President thought the question of legalization was so funny, and whether he thought that the cases of Kathryn Johnson, Cheye Calvo, Derek Kopp, or Ryan Frederick were equally amusing. You should ask why the Economist, William F. Buckley, and 500 economists (including Milton Friedman) disagree with his stance.

We can’t guarantee that you’ll get through to them the first time – for many, old attitudes die hard, and the DEA doesn’t exactly help. Yet by talking to your parents, you can take one step forward in ensuring a more responsible drug policy in the future.

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10 Responses

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  1. Justyn Dillingham said, on 20 April 2009 at 12:27 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, Evan. This message can’t be stated enough.

    I’d certainly settle for a ban on World of Warcraft, though.

  2. Alex Fay said, on 20 April 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Bravo for continuing the legalization conversation and highlighting some of the “successes” of the War on Drug(user)s.

    Obama’s response to/patronization of the people who asked the question is just embarrassing.

  3. Laura Donovan said, on 20 April 2009 at 8:14 pm

    “4/20” in Santa Cruz is horrifying. My best friend dated a guy from UCSC, and she said it was dangerous to be on campus on April 20, everyone just clumps together and gets stoned in the middle of campus. They have no regard for the towns people who don’t smoke weed, and we have to dictate our lives around their celebration that day. I don’t think it’s ridiculous of UCSC chancellors to encourage dialogue on the issue, even if it doesn’t solve a whole lot.

    • Evan Lisull said, on 21 April 2009 at 11:08 am

      Regarding your concern over the smoke-out in the middle of campus, I would be interested in hearing how this “danger” (is it the secondhand smoke, or what?) is worse than the school-sanctioned tailgate that occurs every Homecoming, in which the middle of campus is filled with drinking hooligans. Should the UA abolish sanctioned homecoming activities? And if not, what is the difference?

  4. Jimi Alexander said, on 20 April 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Hey, I can take a drug legalization message as well as anyone. I’m a man of good humor. I’m fully in favor of medicinal marijuana, even.

    But the day you equivocate the “green, leafy substances” from the Police Beat with the green leafy virtual paradises of Teldrassil and Darkshore is the day you go a STEP too far!

  5. Laura Donovan said, on 21 April 2009 at 5:52 pm

    I don’t think it’s safe to be drunk or high in public. The UA has rules against students drinking at the Homecoming tents. I’m in APO, the community service fraternity, and we among many other clubs were not allowed to have alcohol, even the 21-year-olds couldn’t drink. So all that insanity is a result of college students behaving illegally, if they are drinking on campus.

  6. mattstyer said, on 21 April 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t see why it’s any more dangerous to be drunk/high in public than in private.

  7. Laura Donovan said, on 21 April 2009 at 8:02 pm

    It’s illegal to be drunk in public. Then there’s the obvious escalation of drinking and driving, which I’ll agree doesn’t always happen, especially if you have a designated driver, but it’s still an issue.

  8. Justyn Dillingham said, on 21 April 2009 at 9:08 pm

    It’s not illegal to be drunk in public. That would be ridiculously impossible to enforce. In a number of states, it’s illegal to be drunk to the point that you’re endangering other people (the same principle that DUI laws work on, in other words). However, in other states — like Montana, Nevada and Missouri — public intoxication is not a crime at all, and local jurisdictions are prohibited from punishing people for it.

  9. mattstyer said, on 22 April 2009 at 12:07 am

    Adding on to what Justyn said, it’s illegal to drink in public in some places, but not to be drunk. I don’t know how being intoxicated in public leads to intoxicated driving. Doesn’t that mostly happen between private residences and between private residences and private establishments?


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