Commentary: As a bad idea, Measure 3 measures up

Written By Jack Zaleski
 
Pot is not harmless. Objective research is unequivocal: Marijuana is a gateway drug and often leads to meth and heroin addiction.

I came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Readers might assume I am one of those living-in-the-past baby boomers who believes legalizing recreational marijuana in North Dakota is a wonderful idea. I am not. I am against Measure 3, the dumb-ass proposition on the November ballot that aims to turn the state into pothead central USA.

A little harsh? Yup, and without apology. The measure is poorly written, loosey-goosey, and intellectually fogbound. If passed, North Dakota would have the incongruous distinction of owning the most liberal marijuana law in the nation. “Liberal” not in the political sense, but in the darkly comical hippy-dippy sense. North Dakota’s free-for-all frolic would make Colorado, Vermont and other recreational pot states look like bastions of common sense, which they are not, given the consequences of legal recreational marijuana in those places.

Think about the term “recreational” marijuana. What the hell does that mean? Maybe this: glassy-eyed, bare-footed, high-as-kites, self-indulgent Woodstock wannabes prancing around the Maypole to anthems from “Hair.” Everyone happy as clams, mellow as mallow, because they believe cannabis is a “good” high that harms no one. That is deception number one.

 

Pot is not harmless. Objective research is unequivocal: Marijuana is a gateway drug and often leads to meth and heroin addiction. There’s no credible debate about it. Two friends from high school and college started on the path to addiction with marijuana. One, a talented writer and team debater, died in a back alley of his hometown from a heroin overdose; the other was seduced by the drug culture of the late ‘60s and burned out into a vacuous shell of his once-brilliant self.

Harmless? New research finds the hallucinogen in pot inhibits cognitive development in adolescent brains. THC levels in 21st-century cannabis cultivars are higher and more potent that the stuff that destroyed lives in the 1960s and ‘70s. Harmless? In Colorado and adjacent states, traffic accidents involving “impaired” drivers are up six percent since legalization in Colorado. Law enforcement attributes the increase to pot use. Under the ineptitude of the North Dakota ballot measure (where crashes involving alcohol are down), “impaired” as it relates to marijuana has no definition.

Harmless? Federally chartered banks cannot finance pot operations or engage in pot money transactions. The resultant cash economy has generated stashes of cash in rural areas where the plants are grown. A wave of robberies, break-ins and violent confrontations has followed.

Harmless? Pot-legal states are export troves for black market (illegal) marijuana in nearby states. North Dakota could become a source for that criminal market. How’s that for economic development?

While there should be changes in unduly harsh state marijuana penalties, Measure 3 would corrupt that imperative. It would degrade efficacious debate into a haze of hooey that would rival a spring snirt storm.

Measure 3 is a fustian overreach — a dissonant paean to the credo of Cheech and Chong. Funny fellows, but not role models for North Dakota’s children and grandchildren. “No” on this one.