, Newburyport, MA


April 18, 2012

How dare they!

Local school officials invaded our children's privacy using police powers in their zeal to address use of marijuana like local vigilantes.

And what did they find? Zip, zilch, zero, nada. The joke is on them and on their silly Keystone Kops operation. As for the rest of us citizens, are we all dead from the neck up? Where is the outrage? This terrible precedent will come back to haunt us all.

Some young people want what our grandparents fought and broke the law for almost a century ago: the right to their own drug of choice, and for which we now have a liquor store on every corner.

During a prior meeting for dialogue with youth at City Hall, several young people, respectful in tone and abiding by rules of civil discourse, pled for less severe punishment for "users."

They bravely made their case before school authorities and other town leaders, none of whom was about to defend the students — not for their use of marijuana but for the right to be treated unhypocritically.

Later, some school nurses published a letter supporting the call for a new marijuana ordinance, with a laundry list of dangers associated with its use. Five signed the letter, but are there others with a different viewpoint, and would they feel free to say so without fear for their jobs and reputations?

Thankfully, a School Committee meeting braved the topic, where even the high school principal allowed that he has seen more alcohol than marijuana problems, and the Youth Services director wisely reminded us that education regarding marijuana use must begin before freshmen years, and is not a problem that can be resolved by high school administrators.

But we make marijuana and its users the scapegoats for all that is wrong with the rest of us. A policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy noted that unfair laws typically leave young users with harsh sentences that destroy their lives; that criminalization leaves organized crime in control of the problem; and that prohibition has miserably failed.

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