Marijuana law reform a grassroots effort | Opinion

By John Wanless

I am writing in response to the recent opinion piece titled “The selling of New Jersey’s recreational marijuana referendum,” by Tom Haedrich.

Mr. Haedrich begins his article with: “Deep-pocketed special interests are so assured of New Jersey voters passing the upcoming recreational marijuana referendum that pungent smoke is already wafting through the halls of Trenton.” Thus, Haedrich frames the issue as if unscrupulous, rich investors were the driving force behind marijuana legalization. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Marijuana law reform has been a 100 percent grassroots movement for decades. In fact, we would beg the growers and sellers to support us, but, at best, they would just ignore us. Worse, in every state, we had to fight a loud contingent of greedy marijuana sellers who didn’t want legalization because they feared they would lose money, or even their “business.” It is not until just recently, when we are at the cusp of victory, that some black-market growers are jumping on the legalization bandwagon.

Later on, Haedrich actually puts out false information about marijuana when he asks how “pot proponents can justify legalization in the middle of a pandemic crisis with a deadly coronavirus that attacks, damages and can destroy the human respiratory system.”

Does he really not know that smoking marijuana is just one method of consuming? Edibles and concentrates are increasingly popular.

He continues: “While some claim that cannabis is no more harmful than tobacco, the two are not equal. Due to cultural ‘joint’ sharing, frequent deep inhalation, and immunity compromising factors, marijuana can be much more damaging to a person’s lungs and overall health.”

In truth, the country’s leading researcher of marijuana and lung disease, UCLA’s Dr. Donald Tashkin, conducted investigations over 30 years, initially believing there must be a causal relationship. But he finally concluded that smoking marijuana does not cause cancer or any other serious disease.

Tashkin said:  “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even some suggestion of a protective effect.”

This has been confirmed by all subsequent research. Research shows tobacco use directly causes more than 100,000 deaths every year, in the U.S. alone. No one has ever died from consuming marijuana.

Haedrich must be getting his “information” from prohibitionists who deal in deception and propaganda.  Vaporization is another method of consumption that does not involve smoke and has zero impact on the lungs or the rest of the body.

Haedrich concludes: “While Biden is strongly opposed to legalization, both (he and Kamala Harris) are pledged to actively pursue decriminalization and expungement, a position that has broad and growing support throughout the country.”

Polls show 67 percent of all Americans support legalization, not just decriminalization. Kamala Harris is the co-sponsor of complete, federal re-legalization in the senate. Biden is the only one of the 20-plus Democratic primary candidates that does not support full legalization. The “broad and growing support” is clearly for full re-legalization.

This is the kind of disinformation marijuana reform activists have been fighting for decades. 

John Wanless is a resident of Salinas, California.

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