2019-02-14 / Letters

There are a lot of expensive downsides to growing pot and having casinos in Georgia

TO THE EDITOR:

All three of the representatives in my county, Wilkes: Trey Rhodes, Lee Anderson, and Tom McCall voted for House Bill 65 (McCall was a sponsor) which concerns forming a committee to grow marijuana in Georgia. This committee has been formed and who would have guessed, they came back with a recommendation to grow and dispense it. The chance is very good the representatives in your area voted the same way. Since they wheeled in some sick children three years ago to encourage allowing THC oil to be legal in the state, there has been a steady successful march to expand the diagnoses eligible to legally have the substance. I knew at the time that would not satisfy them and it hasn’t. Many Georgia representatives have no ability to see the consequences of their actions or they are so eager for the money involved they don’t care. Every state that now has legal recreational pot started out with “medical marijuana.” First of all, there is still a dispute on the medical effectiveness and long term effects of it and second, if it is effective medically, the FDA needs to reclassify it and put it through a pharmacy like any other drug. There are currently 3 drugs related to marijuana that you can get through the pharmacy and one just approved for children with seizures. I have asked representative Trey Rhodes several times the answer to why don’t they pressure the Feds versus illegal passage of these bills, and have never got one. What all the people in this state and others are totally ignoring is marijuana for “any purpose” is an illegal drug in the same classification as heroin; high potential for abuse. Low THC oil still falls under this classification. The Feds can shut them down any time they want to. Georgia is defying Federal Law.

Before it became legal recreationally in California virtually anyone could get a prescription for “medical marijuana.” They advertised these prescriptions by holding up signs on street corners.

The reason Georgians need to wake up and see where this is going is once the Genie is out of the bottle there will be no putting it back in. The move to grow pot in the state and expand diagnosis is what will be a successful attempt to desensitize Georgia citizens to the reality of pot and expose them to the profit in participating in being drug pushers. There are a lot of people, probably people who are farming right now, who would be very happy to have a new lucrative crop and aren’t going to think or concern themselves about the harm to society. An interesting question is: are the politicians who are on the pot growing committee, many of whom have been there all along, there for altruistic reasons or are they anticipating being first in line, along with their business partners, for the licenses to grow it or open the dispensaries? I don’t know. There is a lot of money in pot and the state is going to discover there is a lot of tax money in it also. There will be more money for them to waste on nonsense and of course Georgia will need millions/billions for “treatment” programs after they get more children and other people hooked. There are also a lot of very expensive downsides for the Georgia taxpayer regarding marijuana in any form.

If the state wants to go this route Georgians should stop and think about what they are doing before your very eyes. No one appears to be interested in rising up and stopping it, no churches or civic groups, no one. (After all, it’s to help sick people, right?) If you want to help sick people, pressure the Feds to reclassify it so “sick” people can get it through the pharmacy. There are already 3 marijuana derivative drugs approved by the Feds. Recreational pot will be legal in 10 years if you let this go on. Inch by inch, their plan’s a cinch. Another plus for the politicians is once there is a tipping point of those addicted to pot they are going to be a very willing constituency. Whoever keeps the marijuana train rolling is going to stay in office. What could be better for them than a large group of losers who are totally dependent on the government? Then, of course there is the marijuana lobbyist piggy bank.

I have heard over and over how pot is “no worse than alcohol.” Well, alcohol has cost this country billions of dollars and millions of lives. Why do we need another sanctioned sub- stance that is “no worse than alcohol?” And yes, if something is legal and easy to get more people will get into this addictive substance. Some results in other states are these realities: Children dropping out of high school, college and life, more traffic accidents (in Colorado emergency room visits related to pot have increased 300 percent in those <21), young children eating the marijuana edibles and getting very sick or dying; all of this “no worse than alcohol” substance being legalized has resulted in even more welfare, food stamps, taking care of someone else’s children, and medical bills. States where you can’t smoke a cigarette in a public place are legalizing pot smoking which is 10X more harmful to your lungs. There is no doubt marijuana is an addictive substance and a gateway drug. 1 in 6 teenagers who smoke/eat it will become addicted. A recent study of teens who smoked marijuana showed significant abnormalities in areas of the brain linked to emotion, motivation, and decision making. (Harvard Medical School) Teens who smoked marijuana daily showed permanent long-term memory loss in adulthood. Along with alcohol, the drug that psychotic patients use more than any other is cannabis. A 2010 review of earlier studies in Schizophrenia Bulletin found that 27 percent of people with schizophrenia had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder in their lives. And unfortunately – despite its reputation for making users relaxed and calm-cannabis appears to provoke many of them to violence. Alex Berenson, reprinted by permission from “Imprimis” a publication of Hillsdale College; 1/15/2019. Heavy use can result in a loss of 6 IQ points (the same as significant lead exposure) according to the American Psychological Association. THC (the same as in THC oil being expanded in Georgia) is the substance that causes these changes and many more that space prohibits me from outlining. As a young adult in the 70s I have known enough adults that smoked pot regularly to report that the same thing applies to adults. A stoner by any other name is still a stoner and will remain so.

The second issue that will be coming up in 2019 is gambling casinos. Representative Ron Stephens, Savannah, has a bill to build 3 casinos in Georgia. The Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, John Watson, has a lobbying firm and among his clients are gambling interests. It is hard for me to figure how either pot growing or gambling casinos can be promoted in a state where there are counties still arguing about alcohol on Sundays? Gambling casinos are fun but they also bring in crime, prostitution, and last but not least, people losing their money with gambling addictions that we end up having to take care of. The Democrats are not a solution as Democrat governor candidate Stacy Abrams was in favor of the casinos and also legalized marijuana. Twitter Feb. 21, 2018: “I support decriminalization of marijuana, legalization of medical marijuana and local cultivation of medical marijuana. Once we have established a strong substance abuse network, I am open to legalization for recreational use.” She supports gambling casinos as long as they use part of the money to make the Hope Scholarship (which has contributed to the dramatic rise in college tuition) needs based.

I’m sure there will be many, definitely including my local state representatives, who will say I am being overly critical, dramatic, and downright paranoid about what they are doing. After all, all they want to do is help sick people. I have always been able to clearly see consequences of every change in society and what true motivations are. If this is allowed to go on it will definitely get to a point of no return. We don’t have to play follow the leader with whatever California or another wacko state is doing. Politicians have been saying “just trust us, we know what we are doing” forever. That’s really worked out well, hasn’t it?

There are many churches and civic groups in most communities. Develop a position within your church or civic group. At the very least/and contact your representatives and tell them that you disagree with where they are going. It is going to have to be a long term commitment to holding their feet to the fire because they never give up and are experts at manipulating emotions. The voters are nothing more than useful idiots as far as they are concerned. This includes both political parties. If marijuana expansion goes any further it is going to be too late and we will all be paying the consequences for inaction for life. As usual, the politicians who put this in motion will either be gone or busy trying to “fix” the problem they created, in either event, not taking responsibility. Remember this: All that is needed for bad things to happen is “good” people to do nothing.

MICHELE HAMLIN
Washington, Georgia

(Editor’s note: Special arrangements were made to accommodate the length of this letter.) 2-14-1p

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