Legislative Alert – Oppose SB2733 (Legalization of Marijuana)

( Links: Bill Status | Bill Text | Hearing Notice | Suggested Testimony )

Synopsis

SB2733 would legalize marijuana for use in individuals above the age of twenty one.  (Decriminalization is de facto legalization.)  This is expected to have the following effects:

  1. does not change national law that prohibits possession, use or sale of marijuana,
  2. an increase in usage by adolescents,
  3. an increase in adverse effects of adolescent brain development,
  4. and an increase drug-related traffic accidents and fatalities with mainstreamed usage.

Please see both the suggested testimony and the supplemental information below for a more detailed description.

Testimony Submission

Your oral testimony at the committee hearing is most valuable.  If you cannot attend the hearing, you may still submit written testimony.  Written testimony should be submitted for in-person testifiers.  Written testimony may be submitted after the deadline, but will be considered “late”.  All testimony received by the Hawai‘i Senate is posted on the Hawai‘i Legislature’s website, which is accessible to the public. Please do not include private information that you do not want disclosed to the public.

Suggested testimony is available for your convenience.  Please feel free to edit the testimony as you see fit.  Remember to change the “FROM” line in the memo fields at the top of the testimony.

Written Testimony Submission

Deadline:

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 @ 2:45PM

In-Person:

Deliver to the PSM committee Clerk in Rm 231 (State Capitol)

Website:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/submittestimony.aspx

Email:

PSMtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov

Fax:

(808) 586-6361
Oral Testimony & Hearing Information
Date: Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Time: 2:45PM
Location: State Capitol, Rm. 224
Parking: Capitol basement (metered only), or Ali’I Place (Private garage with paid public parking, access on Diamond Head side of Alakea Street between King and Hotel Streets just past the Mandalay Restaurant)

Supplemental Information

In the past, individuals and organizations have used fifth-grade logic to justify the legalization of marijuana.  The sad truth that is never addressed is that criminals have wanted their activities legalized since the dawn of time.  Pedophiles would like their illicit activities legalized just as much as car thieves, identity thieves and murderers.  This brief relies heavily on information gathered by a non-partisan group called Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).  To learn more about them, please go to their website.  Here are some of their logical fallacies debunked:

“Everyone does it, so it must be harmless”: The sheer fact that everyone does it is logic that is more fitting of a fifth-grader.  We can all remember parental mantras at one point or another where we were told, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?”  The fact remains that even if a large number of people engage in the usage of marijuana, it will still be illegal.  The best example of why this logic does not work is vehicular speeding.  Using the same flimsy logic, speeding should also be legalized because everyone does it.

Colorado and Washington just recently legalized marijuana use, and legislators would rather rush into marijuana legalization instead of learning from the mistakes other states made.

“The state just needs to legalize marijuana and it will be alright”: Based on testimony both from the Dept. of Justice as well as Director Ted Sakai (State of Hawaii, Department of Public Safety), there is no law that can be passed that will legalize marijuana in Hawaii since federal law would still supersede any state law to the contrary.

“Law enforcement has not worked, so we should legalize it”: It is a sad day in society if we legalize an activity solely because law enforcement does not work.  If the same attitude were taken, then there are other logical extensions that include the legalization of (a) crystal methamphetamine, (b) organized crime and (c) identity theft.  Supporters of marijuana legalization during a previous hearing in the House Judiciary Committee had the audacity to assert that it is not fair to compare marijuana to crystal methamphetamine because marijuana is harmless.  But marijuana use is NOT harmless.

“Legalizing marijuana would free up law enforcement officers to pursue more violent offenders”: Nearly all individuals arrested for possession and/or use of marijuana are detained for a crime or violation other than marijuana possession.  The crime of marijuana possession added only after the fact.  This is no different than a speeding driver who gets pulled over and is given additional tickets for an expired registration or driving without insurance.  The persecution of marijuana users by law enforcement is an unsubstantiated myth.

“Marijuana use is harmless” and “Marijuana use is a victimless crime”: Both of these assertions are patently false.  Marijuana use does pose harm to the individual as well as the rest of society.  Impaired motor vehicle use is a top concern regarding the legalization of marijuana.  Equally harmful intoxicants like alcohol are linked to incidents of assaults to children, spouses and other family members.  Additionally, there are other very serious risks to the individual (as with any other controlled substance) involved using marijuana including addiction & dependence, chronic bronchitis, impairment to learning, attention, memory and reaction time.[1]

“Alcohol is worse than marijuana”: The famous assertion used by Barack Obama is fearfully near-sighted upon closer examination.  Both alcohol and marijuana are intoxicants of their own right, but there are legal standards to determine whether an individual is too ‘stoned’ to drive.  Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the gold standard that every state uses to determine if someone has had too much to drink – whether a person is safe and legal to drive is a clear cut case.  No similar test or standard exists for marijuana, and SB2733 includes no standard for the safe operation of a vehicle.  Trends in Washington State show a 50% increase in incidents of impaired driving after the legalization of marijuana alone.[2]

“Marijuana will not harm children (only people older than 21 could legally do so)”: The top three drugs that are abused by minors are a) cigarettes, b) alcohol and c) prescription pain-killers.  The fact that usage of these substances is illegal for minors is not a deterrent to adolescent use.  Accessibility is what dictates the likelihood of adolescent usage and this would clearly continue if availability to marijuana is increased as well.  The effects of marijuana on a minor however are more sinister since brain development stops until the early or mid-twenties.[3]  Recent studies have shown that marijuana usage in a minor will inhibit brain development.

“Taxing marijuana is a great revenue source for government”: This statement fails to account for the massive social costs that marijuana legalization would have on Hawaii.  These social costs would come in the form of increased law enforcement, increased hospitalizations related to marijuana use (multiplied by the number of uninsured emergency room visits) and incarceration due to increased marijuana-influenced crime.  Quite frankly, no amount of tax money can make up for the death of a single individual lost to a marijuana-related crime.  To this day, taxpayers still subsidize the smoking habits of cigarette users through inflated health care costs.

With all of these myths debunked, the legislature still has the audacity to state:

“The legislature further finds that the legalization of marijuana for personal or recreational use is a natural, logical, and reasonable outgrowth of the current science of marijuana and attitude toward marijuana.”

Our legislators should not be educated by individuals under the influence of marijuana and should instead operate on facts.

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