Ada Fisher: Getting high at whose expense?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 4, 2021

By Ada Fisher

Government officials and those believing erroneously that “pot” is not harmful are remiss in doing what many anti-vaxers are doing — ignoring science to serve their own selfish beliefs or gain a few bucks off of getting high.

There is no doubt that marijuana affects the brain by distorting ones perception of reality and impairing judgment in accomplishing critical skills such as driving distance and braking time. Many might believe marijuana is innocuous while others want to disagree that it can be a gateway drug to using other more addictive drugs. No one publicly ponders how many accidents on the road or on the job are caused by people high on “grass.” There is no quick and easy testing to detect abusers as there is for alcohol with a breathalyzer.

With recreational use, can we ensure drivers of Ubers, buses, pilots and those in safety-sensitive jobs are drug free and not risking hurt, harm or danger to others? Add this to the list of further concerns the pandemic has unveiled.

To obtain a high security clearance in this nation one cannot have a criminal record of drug use — whether miscellaneous or other instances of abuse. President Joseph Biden recently sanctioned the suspension, requested resignation or placement in a remote work program of White House staffers who used marijuana as well as other hard drugs or if involved in other violations of security factors. It has always been galling that President Clinton was a drug user (though he said he did not inhale) and President Obama “did a little blow” — both of which violated security clearance standards needed for that level of office. These drug users, held by many in high regard, did much to incarcerate their fellow drug offenders while not jumping all over the pushers of the drugs. Why not decriminalize penalties for possession while still making it a crime for use outside of one’s home?

In 2016, the Democratic Party platform supported a pathway for legalizing pot in its platform, and in 2020 all of its candidates ran on similar proposal. Now, New York has legalized marijuana for recreational use, joining 14 other states in this insane stance. It is all about the Benjamins, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has estimated such a move will likely bring the state about $350 million annually.

Again using the Black population as its foil, the bill seeks “to end racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities,” said New York State Sen. Liz Krueger, the sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate’s finance committee.

If we are to believe that, ask where is the 40 acres and a mule previously promised? If Black lives truly mattered, why is the rampant prevalence in weed abuse not a cornerstone in our concern? Let us not even consider what playing the lottery or legalized gambling has done to the integrity of sports or unmet educational costs, which it hasn’t fulfilled as promised.

Medical marijuana use for pain relief, loss of appetite and glaucoma pressure relief has been shown of some benefit and should be permitted. The wanton disregard for abuse such legalization will enable in legalizing recreational use is too high a price to pay.

Alcohol through prohibition and into today shows a similar pathway for individual and societal degradation. More people die annually from the use of alcohol than in many of our wars. Supposedly, the tax on it is to pay for the highways, which threats of a road usage tax and tolls belie. The number of people using community clinics and state hospitals for detox has not been adequately tabulated. Yet, here again, we are adding another drug to the armamentarium for abuse so that the government can gain a few dollars while vulnerable people will chill out into oblivion.

There is no doubt that the government is paying out more money to people than it is taking in. Nonetheless, the taxing of people for government sanctioned vices should stop. The government should put the health and safety of its citizens first.

Salisbury’s Ada Fisher is a licensed teacher, retired physician, former school board member and former N.C. Republican national committeewoman.