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Issue Week: Proposition 203: decriminalizing pot

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Illustration by Cody Angell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 23, 2002

In 13 days, Arizona voters will have a make a statement on the future of marijuana in the state.

Proposition 203 would prevent authorities from throwing most marijuana offenders in jail; rather, anyone caught with possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, paraphernalia, or two or fewer marijuana plants would be subject to a fine of $250. That fine would triple to $750 from the third offense onward. Additionally, Prop. 203 would require the police to distribute confiscated marijuana to ill individuals for medicinal purposes.

Is the decriminalization of marijuana a step in the right direction for Arizona? Or would Prop. 203 be dangerous to the state?


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Jessica Lee
Marijuana legalization: yes; Proposition 203: no

Marijuana needs to be legalized, but Prop. 203 is not the tool.

There are many positive aspects to the initiative, but two major reasons prohibit me from supporting it.

First, this law would allow the Department of Public Safety to give away confiscated marijuana to people with a documented doctor's order. It is not right to subsidize the plant. Rather, the confiscated marijuana should fall into a "pot pot" and be available for purchase by patients, where the product would be taxed and regulated to raise money for state programs such as rehab or prisons.

Second, the ridiculous clause that would give DPS the power to buy marijuana from the University of Mississippi when the free stuff theoretically runs out cannot be tolerated. (I doubt this would happen because giving away ounces would not compete with the pounds and tons of marijuana that is confiscated.) Although the prohibition of marijuana is unconstitutional, public money should rather be spent on education.

Remember, the only reason marijuana is "illegal" is because alcohol and petrochemical companies lobbied to keep products that would compete with theirs off the market hemp and marijuana. This specialized treatment is ridiculous in a country that values the freedom of the individual and free markets.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Jason Baran
If Prop. 203 passes, Arizona will have reason to cry

The smoke must be getting to these people. Prop. 203 is another malicious subversion of the health and safety of Arizonans wrapped up in tear-jerking camouflage.

Supporters of the latest incarnation of "the People have spoken" initiative make heartfelt pleas for passage of this measure because it will help cancer patients who are painfully, heroically clinging to life. A story appeared in the Wildcat just yesterday about a UA man's plight and the relief he got from blazing up a J.

But these stories are a just a smokescreen. Prop. 203 is just another in a series of attempts to send civil society up in smoke. The plan is simple: Tell heart-wrenching stories so the public is too teary-eyed to see what's really going on. Then in November, voters cast their votes to assuage the anguish and end up with consequences purported to be unintended. For instance, Prop. 203 would turn the Department of Public Safety into the Medillin cartel. Instead of catching kidnappers, thieves and child molesters, law enforcement will be dealing.

This is another step in the slow dismantling of drug laws that protect the quality of life in Arizona. It feeds on apathy and ignorance. This process must be stopped before it's too late.

Jason Baran is a public administration & policy graduate student. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Caitlin Hall
Positive first step toward legalization

The fact that legalization is even an issue anymore is absolutely stupid, and I don't mind saying so. First of all, there's no reason marijuana use should have ever been illegal in the first place. Don't even try that deadly-drug justification, either not while cigarettes and alcohol stock the shelves of every convenience store in the country.

The choice of whether or not to use marijuana is a matter of personal freedom, and that we have been stripped of the right to make that decision for ourselves is ridiculous and un-democratic. Where in the Constitution does it say the government has the right to prohibit any substance?

The reason marijuana is banned in this country is that it is not a drug that can be easily controlled by corporations, and would provide unwanted competition to legal drugs in the marketplace. Its legalization would also open up the hemp market in the United States, a thriving business in other nations that has been quashed in this country to serve rival corporate interests.

Given all this, the decriminalization of marijuana, as Prop. 203 would allow, is a small but necessary first step toward its total legalization.

Caitlin Hall is a biochemistry and philosophy sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Daniel Cucher
203: One very schwag proposition for the state

Picture this: You get pulled over with a fat bag of chronic sitting on your dash. Officer Friendly confiscates your pot, writes you a ticket and starts walking down the street mumbling, "Buds. I got buds."

OK, so this is a bit of an exaggeration. But it is ridiculous that Prop. 203 makes the DPS our local pot dealers. Corruption and bureaucratic abuse is almost a certainty. And in the end, the people who would benefit most from medical marijuana would probably have the most difficulty trying to obtain it. Imagine a DMV-type scenario, where people stand in line for hours just to score a few government-rolled Js. It would be easier to buy it on the black market, which Prop. 203 would do nothing to diminish.

The only thing Prop. 203 gets right is decriminalization. The possession of small amounts for personal use is disproportionate to its penalty. Getting caught with a joint should not lead to a possible jail sentence and a giant scar on one's record. Small civil fines are a bit more reasonable.

Prop. 203 is only one of many propositions to come as American cities follow the world trend of either ignoring pot use, or minimally controlling it.

It's an uphill battle, and half-ass propositions like Prop. 203 do little to win ground.

Daniel Cucher is a creative writing major. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Jason Winsky
Now is the time to put down the pot and get a job

This seems to happen every year. Hundreds of Arizona drug addicts somehow convince sick people that marijuana should be legalized for pain relief purposes. This year it comes to us as Prop. 203.

This proposition is not about sick people. It's not about pain relief. If it were, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, and others would be springing forth to support this proposition. They aren't. Instead, we have fringe doctors telling us that marijuana is needed for the pain relief of sick patients. Of course, there are many ways to mitigate pain other than smoking marijuana, and while some of the side effects of these medicines may be unfortunate, it doesn't justify the use of illegal drugs.

What most people don't realize is that Prop. 203 also decriminalizes marijuana possession. Supporters won't tell you that part. They'll just parade sick people in front of the camera.

There's an irony here, like there always is: Many people who would claim to use marijuana for medicinal purposes have cancer. Guess what smoking marijuana gives you: cancer.

And a message for the smokers out there: You might want to think about where the marijuana comes from that you smoke. If it comes from across the border, you might be supporting terrorists. Sleep well tonight!

Jason Winsky is a political science junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Mariam Durrani
Clearing up misconceptions about marijuana

After having lived in Europe for half of my life, my opinion about marijuana has gained a different perspective than one who lived in a country where the drug is the devil incarnate and those who do it are Satan's minions.

The facts about marijuana have been severely falsified. So let's clear up some of the miscommunication.

Studies have shown that marijuana, when consumed in moderate amounts, is no more dangerous than cigarettes. A study in 1977 in Psychopharmacology magazine stated that marijuana does not cause a loss of previously learned information.

Marijuana has the potential to cause lung cancer due to the smoking of joints, but if it is inhaled using a pipe this risk is substantially reduced since the effect can be achieved with less inhaling. Marijuana is no more addictive than drugs like cigarettes or alcohol. In 1993, nine percent of ER patients were seen for over-the-counter drug abuse, compared to six percent for marijuana.

In Holland, where marijuana is legal, people have significantly reduced the more serious drugs of cocaine and heroin since there has been a differentiation between the "hard" and "soft" drugs.

So my answer to the question at hand: Vote yes on Prop. 203, reduce our nation's drug problem, and I forgot the rest of what I was going to say because I got high.

Mariam Durrani is a systems engineering senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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