Vail Daily letter: Let’s be smart about marijuana

The letter penned by Buddy Sims in the Vail Daily issue of aug. 24 regarding the absolute prohibition of the cultivation and sale of marijuana in all unincorporated areas of Eagle County subsumed that the “devil weed” was not in the best interest, health, welfare and safety of the people in that jurisdiction.

Eagle County is a microcosm of the state of Colorado and of the United States. The state has already voiced its support for the availability of this commodity by constitutional amendment pursuant to the people’s own initiative. Now, if the people of the unincorporated portions of the county are citizens of the state of Colorado, then their sentiments may have already been made manifest, contrary to the personal sentiments of Mr. Sims.

On a much broader scale, and in the American age of suffrage, vigilantism and Christian zealotry, a minority succeeded in the passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that brought the prohibition of the “devil’s brew” (alcohol) for the good people of the land.

Perhaps at that time, the abolitionists, like Mr. Sims, asked the same question: “Do the people of the United States really want liquor stores, night clubs, restaurants (all dispensing alcohol) opening up throughout our God fearing land”? Thirteen years later, on second thought, the people proclaimed that they in fact did want the right to choose whether they could indulge in the consumption of alcohol, and therefore repealed the prohibitive mandate via the 21st Amendment.

The 21st Amendment was all about the right to choose or indulge in a potentially hazardous commodity like alcohol or tobacco, notwithstanding the abuse that may be attendant to that right and its resultant damage.

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The latest statistics to which I am privy and relating to the various causes of death in the United States indicate that there were 80,000-plus alcohol related deaths a year, a majority of which involved driving vehicles. Around 50,000 people per year expire as a result of tobacco consumption; 38,000 die from the effects of prescription drugs; 31,000 die from firearms injuries; and zero percent of the population dies as a result of marijuana usage.

In answer to Mr. Sims’ pervasive and expanded question, “do the people in Eagle County want a complete ban on alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, guns and automobiles”? No. Then why would they want a ban on the least fatal of these commodities (marijuana)? I would submit that they would want a free market on all commodities with its concomitant right to choose, but with limited regulation to ameliorate usage by the under-aged and the chronic abuser. With the above statistics, would it be any worse on society by having a number of dispensaries in the neighborhood rather than what we have now, such as drug stores, tobacco shops, bars and liquor stores?

Were the Eagle County commissioners to impose the complete abolition on dispensaries, it would be to disregard the factual statistics and predisposition of the citizens of this county to choose for themselves rather than some other agenda, such as fear of the unknown, religious tenets, lack of trust or faith in the individual citizen to manage his life and the lives of his children, or a penchant for dominance and control over individual Americans similar to that which spawned Obamacare or the Patriot Act.

As in the roaring ‘20s, prohibition or abolition created more criminal activity than previously existed, since it drove what was acceptable and permissible behavior and conduct underground. The black market for moonshine and speakeasy clubs had their genesis and impetus directly from Prohibition. The mafia, the gangsters and hustlers made millions and paid no taxes to sustain law enforcement activities to combat them.

It is simply naive to think that a ban on a relatively harmless biological commodity would not foment more subversive industry in Eagle County. A reasonably regulated free market for this commodity is the best depressant and deterrent on increased criminal activity, and certainly pays the freight for better law enforcement to combat it.

It’s a question of pro-choice or no-choice. It’s a belief in the free market or no market at all for a commodity that certainly does not have the deleterious and addictive affects of alcohol and tobacco. And it’s your choice to choose wisely!

Fredric Butler`

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