As our nine City Councilors face the most important decision of their tenure, I offer nine reasons to prohibit legalization of the sale of recreational marijuana:
1. “If we don’t tax it as a legal substance, we lose tons of revenue we need to help our city.” The problem with this argument is that it is only half of the equation, namely by legalizing the recreational drug, other costs will rise. Namely, the cost to society to enforce legal sales, the costs associated with declines in productivity, added costs to manage civil crimes and misdemeanors, and others, the cost of which cannot be accurately estimated. But make no mistake, significant costs offset the tax revenue.
2. “Users will just go to an area where it is sold legally and import it into our city. Why should we lose that tax revenue?” As you well know, El Paso County and communities around Colorado Springs, have decided not to permit legal sale. So-called “importing” legal quantities of the substance will not be that easy. Which leads to the third argument:
3. “By legalizing it we will minimize the underground distribution of it.” Nonsense! Users and addicts will demand more than the legally approved quantity and go underground to get it. If legal sale is permitted, the underground trade will flourish.
4. You’ve heard the arguments about the threat the Department of Defense holds over our city and our economy. I won’t repeat them here, other than to remind you of the potent effect military installations have on our culture, jobs and our economy, and our reputation.
5. Why do people need to use this drug if not for medicinal purposes? Most medicinal claims are based on the “masking” effect of marijuana that hides the symptoms, but does not cure the malady. What drives a person to ingest what is commonly called “weed?” The simple answer is that users want to experience a sense of distorted reality that the use of marijuana provides. Persons in that state of mind can be a danger to themselves and to society.
6. Liberal thinking has always been “we know what’s best for you so we’ll regulate your life.” I contend that people who are inclined to use drugs, now suddenly support “liberty, freedom of choice, and ‘the people have spoken.’” They claim they want to “help people” but in this case they just want to help themselves. Disingenuous thinking.
7. If you ever visit Amsterdam, Holland, you would see what a relaxed drug culture has done to what at one time was one of the crown jewel cities of Europe. Literally hundreds of vagrants, addicts and indigents populate the city center, most of whom started their drug habit by smoking pot or eating marijuana-infused brownies. Never having enough of the “high” they sought led them to stronger substances and they have lost the vibrancy of a drug-free life. Don’t think that would not happen here.
8. I encourage you to see through the hollow arguments advanced by those who refer to marijuana as cannabis. They call it an “herb” but fail to point out that it is potentially addictive if used over a prolonged period. Why would you vote to legalize unsupervised use of a potentially addictive substance? How do you counsel your children about using marijuana?
9. It’s a matter of principle. This is a no-win issue for Councilors as politicians. Those who object to legalization will not be happy with a “yes” vote, and those who favor legalization will not be happy with a “no” vote. Either way you will lose support. This is the perfect argument for doing what you know in your heart is the right thing and that is to prohibit legalizing this drug. This is the most irrefutable argument of all.
As a home-rule city, Council has the right to prohibit legalization. Please don’t be intimidated by false arguments. Your district voters, and in fact the entire nation, are watching. I urge you to stand on the principle of doing the right thing for the greater good. Vote no on legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana.
Don Addy is president of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former chairman of the Colorado Springs Military Affairs Council.