Opinion: Vote against legalizing recreational marijuana in Nevada | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Vote against legalizing recreational marijuana in Nevada

Jim Dykstra
Opinion

Editor’s note

The names of the people Mr. Dykstra references in this column have been changed to protect their identities.

During my lifetime, Americans have continually abused or become addicted to the following substances: cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, rock cocaine, heroin, LSD, sniffing glue, PCP, Quaaludes, ecstasy and other designer drugs, mushrooms, methamphetamine, bath salts, OxyContin, Fentanyl, and the list will continue to lengthen.

The financial and emotional cost in ruined health, treatment, overdoses, driving fatalities, battered spouses and children, broken families, homelessness, lost jobs and productivity, and drug-related crime and punishment are beyond calculation.

Fortunately, the public health answer is easy. If these substances are kept out of your body, the vast majority of the problems listed above will be avoided or greatly lessened. If addictions were caused by mosquitos, we would simply eradicate them.

This is the very valid assumption behind the war on drugs. It truly is as simply as “Just Say No.” A review of the list of substances above and their histories of abuse and addiction makes it very clear that social acceptability, accessibility and cost play a huge role in the damage a substance has on our society.

While most marijuana users will not progress to more dangerous drugs, virtually all heroin users will tell you they started with alcohol, marijuana or most recently OxyContin.

Unfortunately, too many medical professionals, political leaders, well-meaning Americans, and the media do not understand these simple truths. Addiction is a disease we know clearly how to prevent, but which is difficult and costly to cure.

The resources are most effective when used upfront to reduce the social acceptability of using these substances, and drastically limit the supply and increase the prices of the substances. A huge effort should be mounted to tell the stories of addicts, their families and the victims of drug related crime and traffic accidents.

This is much more pertinent information than continually bombarding the public with information and research from academic “experts” who could learn more in a week interviewing folks in the Tenderloin District in San Francisco than years of looking at statistics.

Now we are being told that marijuana is a good drug and should be legalized for recreational use. The best research done before the potency was greatly increased and edibles introduced found 9% of users become addicted.

Heavy marijuana use will not make you a violent criminal, but it will steal your ambitions and dreams. While most marijuana users will not progress to more dangerous drugs, virtually all heroin users will tell you they started with alcohol, marijuana or most recently OxyContin.

When I vote on November 8th, I will not be demanding my right to use marijuana. I will be thinking of the impact it has had on my friends like William, Joey and Billy, who started with me on the freshman basketball team in Southern California, but progressed from marijuana to PCP and never played their junior and senior years.

Duane, a gifted and talented student, who progressed from marijuana to LSD before high school and looked 30 by the time he was 18 years old.

Mary smoked marijuana regularly in High School, and later did time for vehicular manslaughter while high.

My best friend Scott smoked marijuana with me a couple times and later did time for running a methamphetamine lab in his father’s garage. Randy was a childhood mentor, became addicted to cocaine, did time for embezzling from his friends, and lost his business and family.

None of my friends did time for possession, but drugs led directly to crimes we would all agree require incarceration. When “experts” tell me we should end the war on drugs, the faces of my friends whose lives have been destroyed by addiction flood back into my memory, and I know this is a war we cannot afford to lose.

Jim Dykstra has been an Incline Village resident for 17 years.