After Curtis Hill, the Attorney General of Indiana, wrote an opinion piece on the dangers of cannabis legalization, State Senator Karen Tallian pushed back on Hill’s claims that stem from old assumptions, bad data, and misplaced values.
Hill labeled his criticism of cannabis as a call to “speak the truth.” His arguments hit on may of the hallmarks of the anti-cannabis stance: marijuana as a “gateway drug,” the harmful effects it can have on children, impaired driving, and cannabis’ association with “crime.” He also cites a strange statistic. “Eighty percent of men arrested for crimes in Sacramento in 2012 tested positive for at least one illegal drug. The most common was marijuana — found in 54 percent of the arrestees.” In this argument, Hill disregards the fact that medical cannabis is legal in California.
As is typical of politicians who spent years either observing or participating in the war on drugs, Hill ignores studies that prove his arguments wrong. While his statistics about the effects of cannabis on children are true, legalization advocates do not support providing drugs to children. State Senator Karen Tallian, who supports cannabis legalization in her state, takes issue with this and many of his other opinions. “Having submitted marijuana reform legislation, and monitored every proposal that has been filed, I have some experience in what is in the legislature,” she said. Although there is a lot of citizen interest, most of the lobbyists roll their eyes at the thought of marijuana legalization in Indiana.”
Tallian first distinguishes the importance of cannabis reform, aside from the argument of cannabis legalization itself. Talian wrote,
“We should stop putting our kids in jail, or giving them criminal records, for possession of a substance that is legal in many other places.”
Children and adults alike are victims of “tough on crime” policies that create maximize sentencing for nonviolent drug infractions. Combined with arrest statistics that show African Americans are disproportionately punished for drug crimes, these policies are ruining lives. “Current laws make it impossible for someone convicted of a drug crime as a teenager to find a job once they have completed school. We penalize our youth for their lifetime for being busted in high school,” wrote Tallian.
Both Tallian and Hill agree that the opioid epidemic is a grave concern, but their opinions on how to combat it differ greatly. While Hill commented that Indiana leaders should work to curtail drug abuse rather than welcoming more of it.” Tallian counters that “A huge part of [the opioid epidemic] is attributable to prescription drugs, and the situation is not relevant to marijuana reform.” According to the CDC, many substances that are 100% legal are causing fatal overdoses, whether they are purchased from the liquor store or a pharmacy. To this day, there have been no fatal overdoses of cannabis.
Hill also makes a similar argument that that Governor Chris Christie made last month, insinuating that liberal politicians were simply supporting cannabis legalization in order to gather tax revenue. But Tallian left politics out of it, and closed her op-ed with this statement, ”Finally, and we know this as a nation, prohibition of a substance that is accepted by such a huge portion of society has never worked. I could have written an entire Op-Ed on this subject alone.”