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Santa Clarita Activists Take President To Task On Marijuana Comments

Santa Clarita Activists Take President To Task On Marijuana Comments

The California Narcotics Officers’ Association and Cary Quashen of Action Family Counseling are concerned about the effects of comments by President Barack Obama, comparing marijuana to alcohol.

President Barack Obama’s comments during a Jan. 27 interview in The New Yorker have raised concerns from a couple of local organizations devoted to addressing drug abuse.

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In The New Yorker article “Going the Distance” by David Remnick, Obama expresses his opinion on the legalization of marijuana.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” the article quotes him as saying. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

This week, Steve Riddle of the California Narcotics Officers’ Association wrote an open letter to the president, asking him to retract that statement.

The CNOA is a statewide nonprofit “dedicated to providing high quality training for law enforcement professionals,” according to their website.

They also exist “to educate the membership and public of the dangers of narcotic and drug abuse,” according to their mission statement.

They are headquartered on Avenue Crocker in Valencia.

“The California Narcotic Officers’ Association takes strong issue with your comparison of marijuana and alcohol…” Riddle’s letter reads. “Today’s marijuana is far more potent than the marijuana that you have so honestly acknowledged using during your teens and early adulthood. Moreover, the increasingly popular Butane Hash Oil exceeds 80 percent THC, making it far more potent than the marijuana of one to three percent THC that characterized your era.”

Joe Stewart, executive director of the headquarter office said that the purpose of the letter was to make the president aware of what impact his comments might have.

“We didn’t want to trash the president, because he’s doing a good job,” Stewart said, “but we feel that he’s truly misinformed about the dangers of marijuana… I don’t think he realizes the impact that he could have on our public health and safety…”

Obama tempered his comments later in The New Yorker interview, saying, “those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”

He also noted the “difficult line-drawing issues” that marijuana raises about the legalization of harder drugs.

But Riddle worried that even suggesting marijuana was okay to use was dangerous for young people

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“Having been in law enforcement for 28 years I have seen firsthand the destructive path illegal narcotics, including marijuana, have taken in the lives of so many on a daily basis,” he wrote. “I would never condone or make reference to any substance that could diminish my children’s future success as being ‘less harmful.’ …Using marijuana, or any other drugs for that matter, is simply dangerous. I am sure you would never open the door for your children to even think it is okay to use marijuana for any reason.”

The letter mentioned a document posted on the White House website, which offers the following reasons explaining why “marijuana use poses significant risks to public health”:

  • In 2011, approximately 4.2 million people met the diagnostic criteria for abuse or dependence on marijuana.
  • Marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory illnesses and cognitive impairment.
  • Marijuana is also the second leading substance for which people receive drug treatment and a major cause for visits to emergency rooms.
  • Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about implications for public health – especially among adolescents, for whom long-term use of marijuana may be linked with lower IQ (as much as an average 8 point drop) later in life.

Cary Quashen, of Action Family Counseling in Valencia, was also aware of the president’s comments.

He took issue with the fact that Obama compared alcohol and marijuana, because he said that they are both equally dangerous.

“I think it’s ridiculous when you start comparing deadly drugs with other deadly drugs,” Quashen said. “We know that alcohol takes so many lives every year year. For someone to say (marijuana) is not as bad as alcohol–comparing it to that is ridiculous.”

He also said that legalizing marijuana would open the door to other drugs, something that the president had noted.

“I don’t believe that every kid that experiments with pot is going to be a heroin addict,” he said, “but I do know that every heroin addict that I know started with pot.”

Obama told Remnick that he believes marijuana to be “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy,” and then went on to say that he was bothered by the fact that a higher percentage of minorities and lower class people were being penalized for the drug in widespread use.

But for the CNOA, the bottom line was that the president’s comments were “being misused by people with their own legalization agenda to somehow make the argument that the legal status of alcohol demands legalization of yet another addictive substance that will inevitably be commercialized and marketed to children.”

“It’s all equally bad,” Quashen said, “so how can you compare one poison to the other.”

To read Remnick’s full article on The New Yorker website, click here.

The full letter from the California Narcotics Officers’ Association can be found here.

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Source: Santa Clarita News

Santa Clarita Activists Take President To Task On Marijuana Comments

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