Weed Watch

More Hypocrisy

Drug law reformers scored a victory in Denver week before last, when 54% of city voters cast their ballots in favor of legalizing possession of up to one ounce of pot by adults over 21. (The so-called Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative also makes possession of pot by those under 18 punishable by fine only.) The successful city initiative was conceived and pushed by the grassroots group Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation, which campaigned not on a platform that would "encourage" marijuana smoking, but rather that highlighted the hypocrisy of marijuana prohibition. The thrust of the SAFER campaign was pointing out that alcohol is, in general, a "far more harmful" drug than marijuana. Alcohol, implicated in more than 85,000 deaths each year (compared to zero marijuana deaths), is a factor in two-thirds of all domestic violence cases and 40% of all rape and sexual assault cases and is annually cited as a factor in more than 3 million violent crimes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The SAFER initiative earned the ire of Denver officials who trotted out the typical drug war hysteria while opposing the measure – including Mayor John Hickenlooper's stated opposition based on the notion that marijuana is a "gateway drug." While Hickenlooper didn't actively campaign against the initiative, his opposition provided ironic fodder for initiative supporters who point out that Hickenlooper owns the city's well-known Wynkoop Brewing Co. pub. "It simply shows that the mayor does not mind that his drug of choice that he sells to this city can lead to death and violence and that the drug he opposes [marijuana] leads to – as [the mayor's staff has] put it … the munchies," said SAFER's Mason Tvert. (Fore more on the Denver initiative, go to www.saferchoice.org.)

In other marijuana news, a Gallup poll released Nov. 1 reveals that 36% of Americans, a record number, now support marijuana legalization. (Gallup first asked about legalization in 1969, at which time 84% of respondents registered opposition.) Unsurprisingly, younger Americans – ages 18-29 – expressed the strongest support, with 47% supporting legalization. The latest poll numbers, coupled with the SAFER victory in Denver, "demonstrate that a growing number of Americans see the benefit of legalizing cannabis, regardless of whether it is being used as a medicine or for pleasure," said National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws legal counsel Keith Stroup. "As we learned with alcohol prohibition 75 years ago, it is far better to tax and regulate the marijuana market than to rely on the enforcement of criminal prohibition."

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More war on drugs
Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness
The Presidential Contenders on Drugs

Jordan Smith, May 2, 2008

Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness
Bob Barr vs. Bob Barr

Jordan Smith, April 6, 2007

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth inmate of the year set to die

May 9, 2014


war on drugs, Weed Watch, marijuana, SAFER, Keith Stroup, NORML, Gallup, John Hickenlooper, Mason Tvert, Marijuana-Alcohol Equalization Initiative

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle