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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Lynne Doucette

Lynne Doucette

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) PD. Prior to being the first female promoted at BPD, she worked as an undercover detective assigned to the state narcotics task force.

Patricia Teinert

Patricia Teinert

Patricia A. Teinert has been a Texas peace officer since 1984. She has served as a patrol officer, investigator, and member of a juvenile gang and narcotics task force. She is currently a patrol officer with Katy ISD Police Department.
Women in Law Enforcement

Marijuana and the Fall of Civilization

Two states' legalization of recreational pot could affect cops and the entire country more than you might think.

November 09, 2012  |  by Lori Connelly - Also by this author

CC_Flickr: prensa420
CC_Flickr: prensa420

The campaigning is finally over for the 2012 election but the smoke hasn't cleared yet, and it will be a while before it does. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved measures to make the recreational use of marijuana legal in those states, but the federal laws still pose a bit of a hurdle.

Washington passing such a measure didn’t surprise me. Especially considering that every summer "Hempfest" is hosted there and the local culture of the event allows people to feel comfortable using marijuana in public without much fear of legal consequences. What has been a bit more surprising is that voters in Colorado, a significant number of whom live in sections of the state that depend on tourism at major resorts, approved the measure.

Tourism is Colorado's second most important industry. Some people are worried that making marijuana legal there will damage the state's reputation. Others say not to worry because it has been well known for years that "smoke shacks" exist where those who want to use the drug gather. Still others worry that it will cause business visitors to stay away.

Details of how this will change things have yet to emerge. This measure won't allow people to legally use marijuana in public, and commercial sales guidelines still have to be defined. Also, the more than 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado cannot allow on-site consumption. This means patients have to take the drug home with them to use it. It is possible that lawmakers could allow for different rules for recreational marijuana shops.

Physical side effects from marijuana, however, have already been established. The Website for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington, no less, and the Mayo Clinic provide information online that documents some of the effects of using marijuana. This information clearly shows marijuana isn't physically addictive but is psychologically addictive. It isn't simply a harmless drug coming from a "natural plant." There are many “natural” things that are dangerous. For example, asbestos is a natural substance that has many great uses but I don’t want wear it or use it in my blankets.

Some of the side effects of marijuana use are minor, while others seem quite risky, like evidence that marijuana use is linked to testicular cancer and reproductive problems.

From a law enforcement standpoint, however, the paranoia problems caused by marijuana concern me the most.

It isn't just during domestic dispute calls, traffic stops, or assaults that paranoid people are more likely to behave irrationally and violently than non-paranoid people. The paranoia side effects of marijuana can and often do last well after the high has receded. The potential for violence expands due to this paranoia. Of course for law enforcement officers, it can be argued that they have been dealing with marijuana users for a long time anyway so the sale of it might as well be controlled by the government. In all reality this isn't an issue that may ever be resolved to anyone's satisfaction.

This entire scenario reminds me of the argument of what caused the fall of the Roman Empire. This may seem a bit unrelated, but bear with me. For a long time it has been alleged that lead poisoning caused the fall of the empire. High levels of lead are found in the bones of people from the empire’s time span. The Romans used lead for the plumbing, the pots they used to cook in, the bottles they put wine in and many everyday items such as cosmetics and jewelry.

Lead poisoning causes physical and mental problems just as marijuana use causes physical and mental problems. The fall may best be explained by some of the more recent books published on the topic which present that the Roman Empire didn't fall so much as it "modified." The government changed to deal with the people and new situations. This was in part a result of the change in population and culture of the empire as it expanded.

Isn't the approval of measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use also a change in the government as a result of the change of the culture and population? Perhaps the legalization of marijuana will be linked in the future to the fall of the American Empire and perhaps it will be argued that it was not a fall at all but a modification.

Comments (26)

Displaying 1 - 26 of 26

Kent @ 11/12/2012 5:17 PM

What this article misses that most use of marijuana came out of the places mentioned in the article because they are resorts. This is something many natives have observed. The earliest users were by ranchers and many thought of as conservative and staunchy republican. Those same area of resorts very often had visible smoking on chair lifts not always cigarettes. Now more and more beneficial sides are being found from the the plants which are very beneificial. so far negative sides have yet to be definitive in research. most research is still very new. so in this case not enough evidence either way other then some have had measured benefit when outside observation was used. As many observe, its a\an area to watch more then be concerned. don't make any presumptions take down evidence as observed, then make policies as appropriate.

dana larsen @ 11/12/2012 11:58 PM

This has got to be one of the dumbest things I have ever read.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon @ 11/13/2012 9:04 AM

This is a NON FACTUAL article. I have been researching this plant for the medical world since 1972, when my own son contracted luekemia, and I also was heavily under the spell of prohibition at the time, just as the writer of the article is now (even though not one death, ZERO, can be caused by too much Cannabis). My whole life i was taught that it was wrong, until the social and conclusive evidence show it is more effective than chemo when eaten, to treat multiple cancers, MY POINT- Lead poisoning is about as relevant as the keyboard you type on, when speaking of the Romans, it is wise to remember, that they were using cannabis ropes for there building and lever/pully systems as well, as using its great properties for medicine as they learned from the Greeks, who learned from the oldest known Asian Pharmacopia. In retrospect, I am sure more lives have been lost to police violence than lead poisoning today, and Prohibition supports drug gangs and mexican killings. Have you read a paper lately, that was printed? Sincerely, L. Grinspoon

John Scrivner @ 11/13/2012 6:24 PM

Kent & Dr. Lester,

The author cited his sources, please cite your contradictory sources. Please cite a respectable source that “the earliest users” were republican ranchers. Cite a respectable source that “definitive” research shows benefits but negatives are “yet to be definitive.” Cite a respectable source that “it is more effective than chemo” (what exactly is “social and conclusive evidence???”). I’m not saying you’re are incorrect. But, if you are going to say that the article is “NON FACTUAL” and point out “what this article misses,” please give documentable facts, with respectable and credible sources, rather than biased opinions.

Tarfu @ 11/13/2012 6:45 PM

You know for a Doctor of Psychology I would expect you to know the difference between "their" and "there"

Vivian Oblivion @ 11/13/2012 7:59 PM

Worst of all, marijuana contributes to the mixing of races and wild behaviors, like staying up late dancing to jazz music.

J @ 11/13/2012 8:49 PM

As a police officer, the only paranoia I've seen exhibited by pot smokers is the the legitimate fear of being "busted" by police, which even the highest pot smoker knows comes with outrageous criminal penalties. These penalties can lead to:
Financial damages (fines & associated legal fees)
Economic damages (criminal charges causing loss of employment), Familial damages (imprisonment)
Increased gov't assistance (for family of imprisoned/unemployed family members), and
Higher gov't debt (money spent to continue enforcing our failed drug policies)
...just to name a few.

And, as far as the "natural" argument goes...well, while it's foolish to doubt that there are some health risks associated with marijuana usage, lets not get carried away. While we enact and enforce legislation against recreational drug use, our trusted pharmacological and medical "professionals" legally and liberally prescribe, sell, and administer countless prescription drugs and vaccinations to people. These prescription drugs and vaccines are known to have (and even publicly disclose) many, if not more, seriuos side effects than marijuana does.

I do not advocate marijuana usage, but I do believe that I speak for the majority when I say that the public is tired of all the spooky horror stories that are conjured up, just to continue this "drug war." And also, as a current member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), I must say that I recognize that there are problems with drug use/abuse...there's better solutions to dealing with drug use/abuse than the failed policies of our criminal justice system's "drug war."

Ima Leprechaun @ 11/13/2012 8:56 PM

There seems to be some strange narrow minded bloggers here. Grammer is not the issue here and as long as you got the point of the message that should be enough. There is no spell check on here and if there was, professional people would have the same benefit of checking their reply as they do in any professional media. The scariest answer was from "Vivian" which sounds like a skin head response and not a LEO response. Published "factual" data is strongly anti-marihuana and are based upon biased inuendo and not facts and those reports too are very suspect in their "factual" rhetoric on the subject. With "states rights" in play now I will be curious to see how the states overcome federal law but perhaps this debate needs to find it's way to the supreme court. If this issue makes it to the high court maybe we finally have an answer on what "states rights" really are.

Retired Cop @ 11/14/2012 5:17 AM

No one has ever seriously said, "I want to smoke weed, but I won't do it because it is against the law."

RB @ 11/14/2012 5:40 AM

I believe the best comment thusfar on Lori's article came from John Scrivner. If you're going to dispute an article that expresses either opinion and it cites reputable sources to support the author's view, I believe you should also cite reputable sources to support your dissent. When "Ima" throws dirt by saying "Published 'factual' data is strongly anti-marihuana and are based upon biased innuendo..." he should cite his reputable sources for that statement. Better yet, cite a reputable source that proves the sources cited by Lori in her article are based upon "biased innuendo" and how they are "suspect in their 'factual' rhetoric on the subject." I agree sticking to the points being made rather than worrying about the misspelling of leukemia, grammer or using the wrong "there" is the more focused way of coming to a reasoned conclusion, disregarding the distractions of spelling and Vivian's obviously tongue-in-cheek statement. So, let's stick to the best research for either side, and cite your sources for whatever point you want to make.

wescrume @ 11/14/2012 8:00 AM

Good morning fellow Thrill Seekers....!
I would much rather deal with someone on "Pot" than someone on hard drugs or hard liquor....Pot smokers are usually lovers not fighters....! Here in Colorado...they recently passed marijuana for recreational use. We are awaiting what the Feds have to say on the matter. Drugs are drugs....and alcohol is the number one "legal" drug that we deal with daily.....nation wide. The drug war is being fought just like the Viet Nam war was....and we came in Second place in that one also. Crime...drugs....immigration issues....are all sitting on someone's desk.....hopefully these things will be looked at by the new administration in Washington this year. Budget cuts...personnel cuts....are affecting us all. We can't just quit and throw up our hands in disgust....! Buckle up Buttercup...the ride might get bumpy.....

D D @ 11/14/2012 10:48 AM

The common denominator with societal problems seems to be that if a policy doesn't work, let's get rid of it. We, as people, have policies implemented because they are important. If they aren't working, we shouldn't compromise, let's do some research, think hard, work together, and revise social programs, policies, etc. so we are able to accomplish the effective enforcement of what we think is right. Not compromise because something doesn't work...

Counterintuitive @ 11/14/2012 12:19 PM

Interesting debate, there,their or they're (pun intended) seems to be a divide on this issue. Assuming Dr.Lester's credentials are legitimate he mentioned he has been researching the benefits of marijuana since 1972. Again assuming he is legitimate I would take at face-value that he has enough knowledge on the subject and does not have to "cite his sources", because he is his own source. Now, if he isn't legitimate then he obviously is not credible to speak on the subject, if he can't back up his statements. In reality there is a potential for big $$$$ loss to departments if we give up marijuana as part of our "war" on drugs. If the state makes a profit on the sale tax, municipalities should be guaranteed their cut to make up for the loss in seizure money. Social services should also get a cut to help prepare for additional services that may be needed with legalization.

RB @ 11/14/2012 1:45 PM

Counterintuitive makes some reasonable points. Dr. G. stated up front that Lori's article was "non-factual." Not partially, but by inference, totally. That means he debunks the two sources she cited. Since he did not mention them by name and state why (even if it is through his own studies), and how they are faulty, I am uncomfortable with just accepting his comment at face value. You can look him up on Google and yes, he has been into this issue for a long time and one would hope he has some level of unbiased expertise. Still though, scientists and doctors don't accept the findings of new research without vetting it through some review process, no matter who comes up with whatever hypothesis is being put forth. Few of us on here have that luxury, so we must rely on a comparison of cited sources and where the sources disagree, point out where one or the other source fell short.

On a non-medical note though, I do wonder why folks think people will pay more for a joint because its taxed when they will still be able to get it for less through the already established suppliers. Organized criminals and "independents" do quite well on untaxed cigarettes and untaxed liquor, so I'm not sure why this will be any different.

Jim A @ 11/14/2012 1:46 PM

I did not focus on the article, spelling, or grammar, so much as I focused on the passing of the law itself. People are sheep (idiots) and will walk off the cliff while following other sheep (i.e. idiots!)

I live in Washington and it was expected that the 10% that smoke pot would vote for it. What I cannot begin to understand is that the law passed by 55%, indicating that another 45% of the voters are willing to be on the same highways as these DUI drivers. (One of my fellow officers and an old friend from our Sheriff's Dept. was killed in a head on collision - due to a person under the influence of marijuana.) There will be more collisions, injuries, and deaths. Do not tell me it does not have a negative effect on society. We lost a good, honest man. These same SHEEP (45 % are willing to work on the same job sites as pot smokers. There will be increased industrial accidents. They are willing to have their children cared for by pot smokers - and possibly even directly exposed to the drug. I can drink a beer within inches of my grand daughter without affecting her. Not so with marijuana. It is not the same.

Liberalization is killing us - and I do not mean anything for or against the "Red vs.Blue" political issues. There are liberals on both sides of the line. But not everything is OK! We are willing to be led by SHEEP and are willing to be sheep ourselves. Think, people!

Sparkey @ 11/14/2012 6:20 PM

@Jim A....The sheep are the ones that do what everyone else is doing. The legalization of marijuana (and recognition that current approaches aren't working) is a substantial departure from what the rest of the country. Those are the un-sheep, if you will.

Phillip George @ 11/15/2012 6:31 AM

I don't think after a life time in Law Enforcement, that marijuana is the problem for officers and isn't the problem that alcohol abuse and over uses causes. If we can't enforce Federal immigration laws why should we be concerned about Federal Drug Laws?? I have seen officers arrest tax paying productive citizens with a little pot for a stat, just be cause that is easy..

AAu-Yeung @ 11/15/2012 10:54 AM

The second hand smoke of cigarette is so bad already. Do we really want to deal with second hand smoke from marijuana when we walk on the street? Do we really want Phillip Morris to start producing marijuana packs? Who is going to be paying for the health cost, additional traffic collision cost, etc? It may be an individual right for people to pick their cigarette but do not force me and my love ones to take your second hand smoke.

W Everts @ 11/28/2012 5:51 PM

The fact is that the majority of voters in certain states believe that the possession and use of marijuana should be legal. We as police officers serve our community and we will continue to support and enforce those laws. The statement that future generations may link it to the fall of the American REPUBLIC is ludicrous. In that case our society was crashing after the repeal of prohibition. Alcohol does and has done enormous damage to every thread of our society and its legal.

Marshal @ 11/29/2012 5:40 AM

First, Do the voters in CO really think that they will get such a high tax boost? Afterall that is why they say they voted it in, for the money for the schools. So let's break this down. You have an already a dealer illegally selling marijuana. Hmmm does anyone here think he/she is going to do a complete turn around and start paying taxes on what is sold? Probably not. So then we turn to the buyers. Do we really think that the buyers are going to get rid of the dealer and go to a store and pay twice as much? Probably not. Any now they can grow up to 6 of their own plants. Are they going to pay taxes on what they grow at home? Probably not. So then tell me, where is all the tax money coming from? Now to Marijuana vs Alcohol. Not really a fair thing to compare because they are not all that similar. But since alcohol is always brought up then look at it. Look at all the problems and issues with alcohol. No we legalize something else that at least can potentially start giving us the same problems. Like driving under the influence. I have no problem with limited medical use but in CO it has gone so far the wrong way. Now any person that wants to get high legally goes and gets a medical marijuana card. And yes, it is that easy to get. A lot of doctors here are just handing them out just because someone wants them. CO all of a sudden went from a pretty healthy state to one that has a ton of overnight sick people with chronic pain. It just comes down to the fact that people want to get high and not for the actual medical benefit that is stated. It isn't like having one beer. One beer gets almost no one drunk but one marijuana joint will get you high. So how many beers does it take to get you to the same impairment level of one joint? I don't know. So until there is a good study on this and other ponits quit trying to compare them. Limite

Marshal @ 11/29/2012 5:43 AM

Sorry my first comment was over the max and cut off and I apologize for the typo's. I won't retype what I had and I will just finish it up by saying that the feds should just say that they will no longer give federal highway funding to the states that think they will get all this magical money from this.

AJ @ 11/29/2012 6:14 AM

I'm ashamed of my state because of this. The responsible adults who want to puff now and then already do so, and never get arrested. Cops don't go looking for Class 2 Petty Offense Marijuana tickets. The people who get busted are the ones that are dumb enough to do something like being in a fight, driving carelessly etc... to attract police attention. This law chang will just allow even more idiots to get into pot use. We have already seen a huge increase of marijuana in our schools because of "medical" marijuana. Most of the time it's still in the rx bottle. There are about 200K MMJ cards in CO. Of well, at least CO and WA will have no shortage of unskilled labor.

Jack Betz @ 11/29/2012 8:45 AM

People, we lost the war. I am no fan of the stuff and I think it is bad for you. So is alcohol and dozens of other things that people use to get a "Buzz" whatever the hell that is. all making it illegal does is make rich men out of street corner punks. I for one can find better ways to waste time than to save someone from self destruction. It may destroy civilazation, but we will just have to live with it.

oldcop @ 11/29/2012 8:59 AM

You got it right. I grew up in the 60s and saw the effects of cronic marijuana use on friends. Now make it 17 times as potent and legal. Just because as a society we accepted the problems of alcohol does not mean we should do it again. Can we say more prisons and more graveyards for the victims of this new plague on society. One thing I will say is I don't think it is a drug issue I think it is a social issue. I remember when medicine tasted bad and you only took it when you were on deaths door. Now we feed our kids pills that taste like candy and take pills like they are a food source.

Tim @ 11/29/2012 8:59 AM

Marijuana has already been proven to effect short term memory which means you do not retain things. What will be the long term effects higher learning no pun intended?

lt027 @ 11/30/2012 12:03 AM

To [email protected]/13/2012 8:49pm; Very well said. I've dealt with countless mean and nasty drunks and sent quite a few to the hospital for incapacitation(MHL 9.41 here in NY). All the potheads are mellow and generally just want to be left alone. And I've never sent a single person to the ER because they were too high!

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