Because I think it sends the wrong signal to young people. And I think the president of the United States has a responsibility to ensure that we're sending the right signals to young people. [MSNBC]That is all he said. It is apparently the totality of his position; the most important and compelling argument he can put forth to explain why it is necessary to arrest nearly a million people each year for having marijuana.
Are you listening children of America? It is essential that you refrain from using marijuana, because if you do, the government will arrest you and give you a criminal record that will haunt you for the rest of your life. That is why you shouldn't use marijuana.
Threatening to arrest and criminalize our children is, rather obviously, the stupidest solution to youth drug abuse ever conceived. It completely contradicts the message that we want them to be healthy and successful in life. The penalties for marijuana (criminal record, loss of college aid, loss of drivers license, loss of public housing, jail time, etc.) are all designed to reduce a person's potential. The contradiction between saying we'll help people with drug problems, only to then injure them with harsh laws, confuses even me.
If the whole point is to send a message, then I suppose it matters little whether the punishment fits the crime. Are proponents of the "message to children" model for marijuana policy admitting that we can destroy adult users in order to coerce compliance from children? If so, how badly shall we injure the adult users that we catch?
In the end, it all comes down to the question of what the appropriate punishment for marijuana really is. If we are truly comfortable with our marijuana laws, we should have no problem discussing them as part of a comprehensive drug education program for young people. But I have a feeling that if teachers were required to warn high school students about the HEA Aid Elimination Penalty, that law would cease to exist in the very near future.