A more sensible drug policy

We applaud city councilors Ed Adrian and Tim Ashe for actions that may have paved the way for a more sensible marijuana policy here in Burlington. A referendum on decriminalization is the most sensible way to approach such a difficult and politically sensitive issue.In proposing their referendum, the counselors work towards increasing both civil liberties and the rule of fair and direct democracy in the city. While many of us would go so far as to question the basic right of the government to dictate what substances a person may put into his or her own body, we find that this approach presents a balanced and very reasonable compromise, one which could lead to even more progressive moves in the future, and which will ensure that voter preferences are protected.And we would like to remind those councilmen and women who oppose this resolution that this vote asks not for your approval or disapproval of marijuana, but that voters be allowed to make this determination for themselves. Is it proper for you to exert your preferences over thousands of potential voters? Is it fair to eschew such a powerfully democratic mechanism as a city-wide referendum because of your personal feelings on the matter?We ask the residents of Burlington to join a patchwork of cities and states all across the country that are questioning the need to penalize, so severely, those who choose use marijuana. If there is fear in your hearts that, by decriminalizing marijuana we somehow hurt children – we send the wrong message. Consider this: there is little you can do to keep your kids from marijuana, it’s something that parents have tried and failed at for generations.The drug is simply too popular, and for many, too beneficial to stamp out. It will always be found throughout the social circles of not only high school and college, but throughout all levels of society, and has a long history of use extending deep into the foundations of western civilization.For this reason, the focus of marijuana legislation should be education, not eradication.Rather than treating marijuana users as criminals not unlike those who steal, kill, or otherwise bring direct harm to others, the focus should instead be on bringing rehabilitation to those who are perhaps less responsible than most, and teaching responsibility to those who have not yet tried the drug.Decriminalization is the necessary first step.