I'm not exactly sure what e-mail I sent him, I think it was from the Change.org thing I signed. Anyways, his reply to my initial e-mail and then the reply I just sent back to him now. What do you guys think, I took some of my facts with ref's from 'Marijuana Talking Points' sticky His reply: was interested to learn of your support for decriminalizing marijuana use. In considering such proposals, I think that the central question is whether or not the government should sanction the use of substances which are clearly harmful to human health when used as intended. It can be argued that this has been done in the case of tobacco, which remains legal despite well-documented evidence of the detrimental effects of tobacco use. More broadly, we should ask whether legalizing drugs will increase or decrease their use, increase or decrease the crime associated with them, and increase or decrease the net costs to society. On balance, I believe that legalizing the use of substances which often cause permanent physical and mental damage to users is just not good public policy. Often overlooked is the fact that effective regulation of legalized drugs would likely require the creation of more federal, state and local bureaucracies -- and tax increases to pay for them. Law enforcement efforts at all levels would certainly be strained, for drug producers and distributors would probably seek ways to illegally avoid taxation and regulation of the drug trade. I am also extremely concerned with the effect of legalization on youth and young adults, the groups which are most likely to use illicit drugs. However, I remain always willing to listen to further arguments on this issue, as on all others. Please continue to contact me on issues of concern. To receive my monthly e-newsletter subscribe at http://petri.house.gov/subscribe.shtml. Sincerely, Thomas E. Petri Member of Congress My reply: Congressman Petri, Thank you for taking time to reply to my letter to you in regards to the decriminlization of marijuana. I have read your letter and do understand your points of conflict with this initiative. To further explain my point on the subject, please allow me to provide a few facts with refences in regards to the criminal side of the issue, but first in regards to the physical and health aspect. The idea you used to illustrate your point was tobacco, which is admittedly a close association in this situation. However, unlike tobacco marijuana is widely also used in other methods than smoking. This is the MOST detrimental method, and does share many negative effects with tobacco. However, there have been many developments over the thousands of years this plant has been in use that more than account for this. There are various paraphernalia's such as vaporizers which heats the plant to it's exact boiling temp, without producing carcenogenics in the smoke rendered. Another method are edibles which are widely used in the older demographic among those states with valid medical situations due to the lung issues sometimes associated with the group. This method also eliminates the negative health aspects. The other negative aspects of marijuana for health may be argued as lack of motivation, sleepiness, euphoria, increased hunger, loss of depth perception, etc.... I humbly request you to show me one FDA approved drug today, or even argue that Alcohol (of all things holy in Wisconsin) that don't have similar if not worse side effects. Your next issue as I stated was the criminal and financial strain on law enforcement. Again, I respectfully disagree with your view and ask you to consider teh following: Firstly, as a general idea I ask you to consider the city of Oakland is projecting over a million dollars in tax revenue this year solely on medical marijuana. Understandably this is not a lot of money, however it is only one city and only a minority of marijuana tax if fully legalized. As far as crime raising and becoming 'strained by people evading the taxes emplaced by such legalization' consider this: Marijuana arrests have more than doubled since 1991, while adult use of the drug has remained stable. During this same period, the number of arrests for cocaine and heroin fell by approximately 33 percent. REFERENCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000. Drugs and Crime Facts. Table: Number of Arrests by Drug Type, 1982-99. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1996. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Main Findings (1990- 1999). DHHS Printing Office: Rockville, MD. Police arrest more Americans per year on marijuana charges than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. REFERENCE: Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2001. Uniform Crime Report: Crime in the United States, 2000. Table 29: Total estimated arrests in the United States, 2000. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC. Marijuana violations constitute the fifth most common criminal offense in the United States. REFERENCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000. Drugs and Crime Facts. Table: Estimated totals of top 7 arrest offenses, United States, 1999. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC. More than 734,000 individuals were arrested on marijuana charges in 2000. Eighty-eight percent of those arrested were charged with marijuana possession only. REFERENCE: Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2001. Uniform Crime Report Crime in the United States, 2000. Table: Arrest for Drug Abuse Violations. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC. Almost 5 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana since 1992. That's more than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington DC and Wyoming combined. REFERENCE. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reports: Crime in the United States (1993-2000). Table: Arrest for Drug Abuse Violations. U.S. Department of Justice: Washington, DC. I would argue that our law enforcement is ALREADY overwhelmed with this issue and that the companies allowed to participate in ground level booming industry would definetly not choose to break the rules and risk their massive profit margins that would surely result from legalization. Your last issue, Congressman Petri is a very valid point. The effect on our youth is a very important factor in this matter. I do not believe that anyone under the age of 18 should be allowed to use, just as with the current situation with tobacco. I ask you this, with the vast abuse of alcohol and cigarrettes among minors, there have been some initiatives to reduce marketing towards them and to attempt to lower the levels of use among minors. This, with no calls for delegalization of said products nor should their be solely on this issue. This is NOT to say that ignoring the issue is what I want. In surveys, most individuals cite health concerns and family responsibilities rather than legal concerns as their primary reasons for ceasing (or never initiating) marijuana use. REFERENCE: National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM). 1982. Marijuana and Health. National Academy Press: Washington, DC. Citizens who live under decriminalization laws consume marijuana at rates less than or comparable to those who live in regions where the possession of marijuana remains a criminal offense. REFERENCE: E. Single et al. 2000. The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalization in Australia and the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy 21: 157-186. I do not believe the fact that all citizens may begin using marijuana at 18 will automatically raise the rates of use in our youth. That would be implying that if we prohibited alcohol taht use would go down in minors as well, which would not happen. It woudl simply be bootlegged and all the same drinkers would still consume alcohol. I believe legalizing marijuana would not only lower overall use, lower overall expense in criminal prosecutions, save money that is now wasted clogging our court systems with minor possesion tickets that follow citizens for years when private companies can simply use drug screening EVEN IF the drug were legal. The taxation, even if evaded by a small radical group, would greatly boost our economy and allow for a great number of public projects. The money raised would undoubtedly greatly outweigh money spent on constructing a commercial and legal system to tax and distribute. Law enforcement would see a great reduction in crime, not a rise. I say all this to you as an American Citizen, an iraq veteran, and a Wisconsin resident.