California's Kids Need to Be Protected

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Speaking as a leader of the oldest statewide drug prevention coalition in California, the U.S. attorney action could not have come soon enough. California leads the nation in abuse of the "Compassionate Use Act," which law enforcement now mockingly refers to as the "Commercial Use Act." Thousands of so-called dispensaries--nothing more than marijuana storefronts--have popped up in the past 10 years, raking in a fortune's worth of profits and supplying more marijuana than our chronically ill population could ever consume.

We have seen that dispensaries have increased drug use and crime, and they are linked to numerous robberies, muggings, and murders. So it is high time that they be shut down.

[Read about a recent Gallup poll about legalizing marijuana.]

When California was having its debate about medical marijuana in 1996, preventionists had warned of the wrong message such a policy would send. Indeed, in the intervening years, drug use has risen (research is now emerging that directly links medical marijuana states with higher levels of drug use), and now more young people enter treatment for their marijuana use than for all drugs (including alcohol) combined. They now think that marijuana is "medicine"–-how bad can it be for you? Dispensaries, many of which market their wares around high schools and parks, have no doubt contributed to these higher use levels.

We in California are taking a second look at this whole issue. Now numerous towns and counties are banning dispensaries outright, and the owners of dispensaries are being called out for the millions of dollars in profits many of them have been making. For those working on the front line of this issue with California's kids, the enforcement actions by our U.S. attorneys are certainly welcomed.

John Redman

About John Redman Executive Director of Californians for Drug Free Youth

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