I would like to respond to a letter in the November 29 edition of the Bourne Enterprise (“How Many ‘No’ Votes Needed?”) about Bourne’s recent revisiting of the recreational marijuana ban.
One issue I had with the content had to do with language, since I believe that “words count.” Speaking of words and counting, the writer four times described legal purveyors of marijuana as “drug sellers.” In thusly demonizing retail sellers, the writer cleverly and not so subtly links the sale of a legal substance (at least in many states) with the illicit kinds of very addictive street drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. Question (tongue in cheek): Whether his descriptor would include the local pharmacy, which also sells drugs legally (obviously by prescription).
Further, in a stretch of logic, the writer also conflates “recreational” activities, such as downhill skiing and Rollerblading, with the use of marijuana, knowing full well that “recreational” is, in fact, a legal term, meant to distinguish that form of sale from “medical.”
Moreover, those other “recreational” activities take some skill, while marijuana use only requires a little bit of knowledge and a few dollars (more than a few dollars for purchase from a legal dispensary.) It was news to me that we had downhill skiing as a recreational activity in Bourne, since according to the writer, we apparently were voting on replacing that form of skiing with using “grass.”
Two other comments in that letter call for a response.
One is that, apparently, it was the “political elites” in town who managed to get that re-vote on the ban on the town warrant. Could’ve fooled me, since when I attended that Town Meeting, I was impressed with the civil level of discourse each speaker provided, whether it was fact-based, or pro or con the issue. I think the writer lowers the level of discourse in presuming that these “elites” want somehow to enlarge “the cesspool of addiction normalcy.”
There are good arguments on each side, but I don’t know anyone who considers addiction “normal,” or that those unfortunates who become addicted–way more often to the hard street drugs—are part of the “cesspool” of humanity. I am surprised that the writer did not suggest that the “elites” are not somehow in a conspiracy with the “drug sellers” to enlarge said “cesspool.”
The writer also comments about cognitive risk to “your children.” While there is some good research that suggests using marijuana on a regular basis in adolescence and early adulthood can affect neurological development, that issue is irrelevant to whether marijuana should be legally available in our town. That is because the age floor for buying recreational marijuana is 21 and I would suggest that any teen use is the result of street or “black market” purchases.
Furthermore, a brief glance at SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency of the U.S. Gov’t.) data from 2013 to 2015 (available at samhsa.gov/data/) shows that adolescent marijuana use decreased during that period and there was no significant increase in teen use in states that legalized marijuana—in fact the trend was for a decrease (which may be explained through the overall decrease across the nation).
One could argue that the adolescent risk actually decreases with legalization, but more conservatively to say that legalization probably has shown no effect on adolescent marijuana use. To be clear—it is the illegal sale of hard street drugs, often contaminated by fentanyl or unknown ingredients—that is hurting or killing people.
Robert A. Zibbell
Sea Breeze Drive