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Legalizing marijuana would be a big mistake

After 42 years of a law enforcement career, which included three years in the Buffalo Police Narcotics Squad, I have had the opportunity to witness society at its best and worst. Not much surprises me, not until the recent debate over the legalization of marijuana. Here we are some 50 years after the big smokeout, to wean the American people off cigarettes, spending billions of dollars in the process. We are now going to turn people back on, not to cigarettes but to something a lot worse, marijuana.

I know that those on the legalization side of the debate are all for it; even some people in the criminal justice community feel the same. However, if you ask the generation of the ’60s how much they liked the kick they got from pot, then ask them how they liked heroin, cocaine, meth and crack cocaine after they hit the big time. Alternatively, talk to the families of addicts who suffered when one of their own was addicted. I know that marijuana is the gateway drug for the forgoing more addictive drugs.

If medical professionals can treat patients who desperately need marijuana, and can do so under strict conditions for a period to determine what effect it has, then let them do so and report their findings. However, keep in mind the number of children who are into their medical cabinets pilfering their parents’ medical prescriptions every day, such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin.

Addicts love the high they get when turned on, and the higher they get the better they like it. This, added to the thousands of victims killed on our highways every year by drunken drivers, should give our elected officials something to think about. Americans have enough problems without seeing their children turned on to pot. I beg our elected officials not to go down this road.

Thomas F. Higgins

Erie County Sheriff, Retired

Buffalo