Letter: Balentine’s pot column ignores the facts

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I found John Balentine’s Jan. 27 “Here’s Something” column very interesting. His two main points regarding the state referendum on marijuana were sobriety and state vs. federal rights under the Constitution. Given the piece’s inconsistency and lack of historical facts, I chose to respond.

Balentine states, “The government should defend sobriety … to defend those who must live alongside the high and unsober.” The example of a drunken driver belies the scientific evidence of the inherent differences between the two. It’s not clear whether Balentine would support a new prohibition on alcohol as well.

Balentine further states, “Conservatives value states’ rights and hate to see the feds butt in with their zeal for regulation. … Legalization of recreational marijuana rises to the level of federal intervention.” He appears unaware of numerous federal and state laws starting in 1906 with the Pure Food and Drug Act, and continuing between 1914 and 1925. These were largely initiated by anti-Mexican xenophobia, not science.

The Marijuana Tax Act and Comprehensive Drug and Abuse Prevention and Control Act both disregarded and hid federally commissioned studies that recommended decriminalization and showed medical uses for marijuana.

According to the latest Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans now favor legalization. Approximately 20 states have passed laws permitting the use of marijuana to various extents. These states are working to undo a wrong perpetrated by our federal government over the last 100 years.

Jerry Provencher