SACRAMENTO, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- With President Obama leading the charge against legalization of marijuana in what he calls a "new era of responsibility," a cultural change is taking place in California as more and more community activists join law enforcement officers, former drug addicts and faith-based leaders in support of the anti-marijuana cause.
Braving rain and wind, many of them appeared on the steps of the State Capitol today at a rally to protest AB 390, which was to be voted on by the Assembly Public Safety Committee. Ironically, the chair of this committee is the author of AB 390 to legalize the sale, production and use of marijuana in California.
"How hypocritical is it to have the head of the Assembly Public Safety Committee wanting to increase access to a harmful, highly carcinogenic drug that is clearly a danger to society and our youth," said John Redman, executive director of the non-profit Californians for Drug Free Youth. "Plain and simple, pot is bad for the brain, especially young brains, and if our elected officials allow us to continue down this path of destruction, there will be no turning back."
The rally spawned a cultural anti-drug revival of sorts as the religious faithful came by the dozens to listen to a youth gospel choir sing of a return to a life in our communities, free of the ravages of drugs that begins with smoking pot. Sacramento's "Kids for a Better Society" served as a youthful reminder that it is in the early teen years that marijuana is first tried.
At a time California is considering the legalization of marijuana, the federal government's annual survey of teen drug use indicates a worrisome trend showing that while marijuana usage is down: eighth, 10th and 12th graders are softening their views on its harmful affects. The Obama Administration's drug czar sees this as a "warning sign."
"When beliefs soften, drug use worsens," said Gil Kerlikowske, who also stated emphatically in earlier remarks that he and the President are against legalization of marijuana and making weed accessible, where it can find its way into the hands of impressionable youth.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana contend that if pot is bought and sold out in the open, it can be regulated and taxed, and law enforcement could keep a better watch on kids to keep it out of their hands. As they made these claims, top law enforcement including members of the California Police Chiefs Association, California Peace Officers Association and the California Narcotics Officers Association joined in the rally to vehemently protest what they see as an ill-conceived piece of legislation that they say will only lead to more crime, violence and truancy in schools.
"As the government studies attest, marijuana usage is down among youth because it remains illegal," added Redman. "There's a reason why cigarettes, alcohol and prescription medications are more prevalent among young people because these substances are legal and therefore, perceived as being more socially acceptable. Legalizing marijuana and encouraging the manufacture and sale of dope will follow this same course and effectively lead to more widespread usage among teens."
For Bishop Ron Allen who is the founder and president of the International Faith-Based Coalition, the battle against the proliferation of marijuana sales and use is not just a religious calling for a better society but a personal crusade as well. A former addict, he knows first hand how marijuana almost ruined his life and his hopes for the future.
"I grew up in Oak Park and when a bag of pot and a pipe were handed to me, I could not resist the temptation and I fell into a life of drugs and battling addiction," said the Bishop. "By the Grace of God, I followed a better path. And now that I am clean and sober, I see it as my calling to ensure that our youth do not slip down the dark path of drug addiction as I once did. That is why I am on a crusade to muscle all the strength of our 3,600 member International Faith-Based Coalition to ensure bad public policy like this never sees the light of day."
SOURCE International Faith-Based Coalition