I grew up during the ’60s and witnessed firsthand how the criminalization of marijuana was used to intimidate, persecute, and even imprison people with “aberrant” lifestyles or “undesirable” politics. I was therefore wholeheartedly in favor of marijuana’s legalization.
I saw it as a win-win situation: freedom to engage in what I viewed as a harmless recreational activity and the freeing up of law enforcement resources to pursue “real” criminals.
I gave no thought to the consequences for communities where marijuana could now be openly grown. I never thought about the impact of this burgeoning industry on land use and values, water use, water or air pollution, community composition and population changes, local crime rates and pressures on law enforcement, underage exposure and consumption … the list goes on and on.
Now that I’ve begun to think and learn about these issues, I’ve come to realize the need for a whole new set of rules and regulations.
No, I don’t want to go back to the bad old days where someone could be arrested for smoking a joint. No, I don’t want to deny a sufferer the medicinal benefits of grass. No, I don’t want to prohibit people from engaging in limited regulated personal cultivation.
But I strongly believe that commercial cannabis activity is a danger and a threat to our communities. I hope our elected officials will come to agree.