To The Editor:

Regarding the Legalizing Marijuana Question and outcome of the vote, my husband and I have been strongly opposed to the general legalization of Marijuana.  As to the use of marijuana for carefully controlled medical use, that is not the question.  It should be controlled, prescribed, administered and supervised as any other narcotic for legal medical use.  We believe legalizing any instantly impairing drug is irresponsible.  

 In talking with a business executive friend, we discussed the ramifications of a decision to legalize this gateway drug.  From a Human Resources/employer point of view and experience with large corporations, her first question was "how do we analyze and/or allow use by employees who are required to have regular, random drug testing?"  "Will marijuana trace even be a valid reason anymore not to hire as a point of discrimination, or for employee dismissal or furlough until they can pass a clean drug test?"  "How does this effect employers' liability if employees cause accidents or damages when effects of "legalized" drug traces show up in a  test -- even if they are not using at the time of such an event?"  In Colorado where marijuana is now legal, there have been many negative issues, causing responsible residents to now rethink what they have allowed.

 As to recreational use, from a purely personal point of view, Barry and I have had first-hand heartache and experience with drug addicted friends, relatives and his own daughter, Julie.  She died of a drug overdose 18 months ago after years of sporadic hard core drug use.  She tried but just could never beat her addictions.  She began trying out drugs in high school.  It is doubtless that she started with "pot."  It eventually destroyed her life, relationships, marriages, and the lives of her children.  It was no picnic for those of us who loved her and helplessly watched the destruction.  Without exception, everyone we have known who became an addict began with this "harmless?" drug called marijuana.  

 Among the "pro" arguments is "people will use it anyway, just legalize it, control it like alcohol and tax it."  This is a dangerous approach in that illegal marijuana is almost without exception liberally cut with things that weaken the overall effect of the drug.  It makes the dealers' profit margins higher.  If pure legalized marijuana is smoked or ingested by these same people, it will be far more potent, creating a much greater effect and impairment, and proven to often cause users to want even more dramatic drug experiences.  As to controlling sales to minors, how has this worked with alcohol and cigarette use and other illegal substances?  While government and society encourage people to never start smoking, and quit if they do, here we are legalizing and thus encouraging the use of another mostly inhaled drug for public consumption and yet another plague on our society.  

 Pro-drug legalization interests often compare marijuana to alcohol use.  Having been exposed to both "pot" and alcohol users way back in our late teens and early twenties, Barry and I noticed something.  When people around us decided to use "pot," it was for the sole purpose of getting stoned. There was no intended in-between.  That is generally not the purpose of responsible social drinkers.  Throughout my business career and now, I have learned that reasonable people don't set out to get drunk when they attend a party, have a pre-dinner cocktail or wine with dinner.  Cocktails, beer and wine can be consumed in controlled quantities that are enjoyable but do not "immediately" put someone in a drunken state or at risk to themselves or others. 

 It is a slippery slope. What thing will be legalized next in order to increase taxes?  Government needs to live within its means like most working people instead of spending more than it has -- a subject for another day.  The point being, insatiable public demands and spending must end. The solution is to perpetually raise taxes on someone who produces or create a new taxable category.  When marijuana taxes become still not enough, will it be then become okay to use heroine and opium in designated legally taxed "heroin and opium dens," and crack in "crack houses?" Or perhaps allow and tax prostitution in "designated areas " like Nevada.  What message does any of this send to children who are already cautioned about underage cigarette smoking, alcohol use and moral living?  It ultimately creates an easier and even more evil opportunity for the unscrupulous and immoral to legally purchase marijuana in Maine with the sole intent to sell to minors on the black market in Maine, and anyone else out of state.  Whatever a users age, the worst decisions, actions and accidents happen while under impairment.  It is sick to think that an attitude of 'anything goes' is okay as long as it leads to increased taxes; and, never mind, decreased personal responsibility.

 All of this brings to mind what my dear departed and wise Dad once said: what society accepts will be different throughout time, but right and wrong never change.

 Sincerely,  

Linda Baniszeski