Arresting Marijuana Users Sends the Wrong Message to Children

Posted in:
Has anyone ever told you that we must never change our marijuana policy because doing so would send the wrong message to children? I'll bet they have, because this particular argument is as ubiquitous as it is absurd. Just listen to John Edwards at Sunday night's Democratic Presidential Debate explaining why he opposes marijuana decriminalization:
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.
Location: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

John Edward's really stupid comment

Hey John Edwards, you need to explain why you think adult use of alcohol doesn't send the wrong message to children but adult use of marijuana does. Alcohol easily kills more people in a day than marijuana does in a year (if it kills any), not to mention the lives saved by marijuana because it provides a safer alternative to alcohol. Get real buddy. Children need honesty from adults, not bullshit.

Here's the message, kids:

Here's the message, kids: make lots of money, buy some friends in high places, and you can say or do absolutely anything you want, no matter how many people it hurts, and no matter how absurd it is to the majority of Americans. As long as you're sure to use the phrase "for the children", you'll not only get away with it, you'll be honored as a hero!

Sending a message

How nice that the leaders of the most powerful nation on Earth are willing to send messages to my children!

Unfortunately, the message that police are not to be trusted, but feared and avoided at all costs was already sent overnight delivery by the local Gestapo.

God forbid that the leaders of a self-proclaimed "Christian" nation send a message of tolerance and forgiveness, or that the leaders of the "Land of the Free" send a message of individual freedom.

Christians

Rita,

You are absolutely right! Christians should not behave the way they seem to be! Mercy and loving your neighbor, is supposed to be our way ! Too bad, many "religious" people have forgotten it! I guess it is because most are unable to handle power, when it is given to them! Hey, what about the psychological problem with being addicted to religion?!?! We need to get those people treated, too!

For the kids= dodge the ?

And thats the last we will hear about PROHIBITION 2 from the masterdebaters. Unless they are continuously challenged with questions about the WoDs, which is a third rail in this campaign.If you touch it you are dead. This needs to be changed to; if you don't touch it, you are dead. Of course credit is given to Kucinich, Gravel, and that republican guy, who's actually a libertarian.

Kucinich, Gravel and that Republican guy who's a Libertarian

Take a look at any poll, there are tens of MILLIONS of Americans who actually disagree with the current drug policies of our nation...thats a powerful block of individuals who should absolutely be advocating loudly and unflinchingly (amongst friends and family at a bare minimum) for candidates who honestly acknowledge the failure of the current policy. There ARE candidates (Kucinich, Gravel and Paul) who will return the support they are given by not further criminalizing, marginalizing, and disempowering the American people.

***Vote in the primaries**** It cannot be stressed enough how vital that is. And vote in keeping with your interests and conscience NOT with who you think is most popular! Democracy only works when people vote for candidates who listen and are responsive! Not all politicians are the same. It just seems that way because the American people have been sleepwalking through the primaries for so many years.

Justice for Kids

In high schools, the problem is severe. In our area alone, students are being expelled for just talking about marijuana. One student was recently expelled because he might have sold someone marijuana over the week-end.
Our son, who had never had any discipline problems at school nor any arrests, was recently expelled. This nightmare began due to a "suspicion" that he "might" have "used" marijuana the night before and that he "might" be bringing some to school. His car was searched by the assisstant principal and 2 possible marijuana seeds were found on the rear floor board of his vehicle along with SEVERAL peices of yard debris. No marijuana was found. We have yet to receive a lab analysis to even prove that this is marijuana. Our son did not bring marijuana to school, he did not have any marijuana in his car or person, and this could have been birdseed for all we know. Yet, the school board agreed with the school principal and asst-principal and he was expelled for one year with alternative placement at another school. (the other school is the one that used to be reserved for multiple offenders and problem children) Our son's junior year of high school has now been ruined for 2 possible seeds!!! It seems that the school board and administrators have their own rules and ways of interpreting state statutes. They are hiding behind a zero tolerance policy...a policy that was meant to help the students. Our son must endure standing before a judge, etc. for something that most adults would not even be arrested for. Because we fought the school board's recommendation, he was officially charged with possession of marijuana. They do not distinguish between possession and constructive possession. We are at present trying to find anyone who can help stop this abuse of our children today. This practice is happening all over America and especially in our town.

School administrators are seriously awful people

It's been my experience as a former student that administrative jobs at schools attract some of the most stubborn, mean-spirited, stupid people. I don't know where they find all of these horrible people, but they seem to flock towards administrative jobs in schools.

I wish you good luck.

Times Change

I can remember a time in America when you could be a kid and not be arrested for it.

Giordano

Teen use rates

It is also important to note that teen use of marijuana is MUCH lower in the Netherlands, where marijuana is de facto legalized.

Edwards' values

get another haircut, idiot...

Zero tolerance= 100% tyranny

Prohibition truely is the GATEWAY TO TYRANNY. The US gov./ military says that the terrorists use women and children as "shields". Here the same thing is happening. Throw the kids to the lions to protect a failed policy.

no stems, no seeds . . . save the children

Actually, in Arizona, at least, an adult CAN go to prison for a few seeds on the floor of the car; especially an adult with prior convictions and the services of a court-appointed "defense" attorney.

Which doesn't change the fact that what's going on with Anonymous' kid is an outrage. Unfortunately, it's not an isolated incident -- with minor variations, it's going on all over the country, and it won't stop until parents band together and DEMAND that it stop.

Dan Rather

Watch your television sets at HDNet,The Dan Rather show some time soon.Dan's taking a long look at Vancouver's infamous DTES and it should prove interresting,although I doubt he'll get too deep into the scene here.If nothing else,the Olympics are shinning a spotlight on the seedier side of "the most beautiful place on earth".What can you say about the poorest postal code in Canada?It co-exists with all the opulence that exists all around it.I've watched for thirty five plus years while it's gone from bad to really disgusting.If you want to see the drug war in all it's glory,don't miss this one.

sending wrong message to children

So Mr. Edwards, do you tell your children there's a santa claus?

holymusic55's picture

Schools

I just read an article in my local paper that JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY just released a study citing the worst schools in the nation: labeled as dropout factories.
Our local Wasilla High was listed as fourth in the nation of these dropout factories. The local principal, Mr Probasco, has for years been expelling and showing zero tolerance to "bad kids" who are even suspected users. He has been using Hitlerish tactics to purify his student body of any suspected taint. He has even insisted on felonies given to any in possession on school grounds. A practice that has slowly died (as many lawyers and sitting judges are also users and sympathetic).
Mr Probasco's reaction in the newspaper was one of shock and outrage that what he had percieved as a model school was labelled a "dropout factory" by so prestigious an institution.
Intolerance does come back to haunt the perpetrator, but not usually so publicly.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School