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Letter from a Recovering Addict: The Truth About Pot

Former Baltimore County drug czar and recovering addict argues marijuana legalization would be harmful.

One parent said that legalizing marijuana would send mixed messages to kids about saying "no" to drugs. Photo Credit: Getty
One parent said that legalizing marijuana would send mixed messages to kids about saying "no" to drugs. Photo Credit: Getty

I am not in support of the legalization of marijuana. I, like others spent too much of my youth spaced out on pot. It was addictive and it severely handicapped me in respect to my career, work and interpersonal relationships.  Did I love being stoned as a youth? Yes and too much.  That’s part of the problem.  It's too good and it is addictive to many people such as myself.  

We have to stop pretending that getting stoned doesn't impair your ability to function. Try responding to any emergency stoned and you will screw up.  Go to your next job interview high, you will fail.  Would you like a stoned babysitter taking care of your kids?  How about a stoned surgeon operating on you?  

If you think i’m overreacting just remember the Amtrak Train wreck in Chase, Md. where the engineer Ricky Gates was high on pot and forgot to throw a switch causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries.  It does, it can and it will happen again.  

Also being stoned is like being pregnant, either you are or you aren’t.  With alcohol most people can have a drink to relax but if you smoke a half of joint of good pot, you will be spaced out.  There is no gradual effect, you go from straight to stoned.  

Like tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, not everyone who smokes pot will be addicted or behave in a dangerous manner, but many will and many of them will be our children. The two drugs that kill more Americans are cigarettes  and alcohol.  They are both legal and have an age requirement.  Do we really want another legal drug that is sure to increase the number of users?   I don’t think so.

Mike Gimbel,  

Former Baltimore County drug czar and recovering addict

Timonium, Maryland

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to Patch.com and is the exclusive opinion of the writer. Mike Gimbel worked for Baltimore County from 1980 to 2002.

Aron Bromas January 10, 2014 at 10:42 PM
While I respect the writer's point of view, I think some more facts instead of opinions should have been included. For instance, not one single case of overdose death has been attributed to pot... not a single one. As for addiction, there is stipulating data on the exact number, but the general consensus is between 1.5-3.5% of people who have tried marijuana become mentally addicted to it.. So to compare marijuana to cigarettes and alcohol is about the same as comparing a stubbed toe to a limb being chopped off.
Bryan Ford January 11, 2014 at 12:13 AM
That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. This is clearly one person's experience with Marijuana. This article is pure propaganda. The cold hard facts are that Marijuana has many beneficial medical properties. Just because one person can't use Marijuana responsibly doesn't mean its a harmful drug. Chances are this person "Gimbal aka Drug czar" Really! Hilarious...has far more deep issues than Weed. Credit the Patch for creating propaganda. I look forward to reading the article from the Sex Addict czar. and the over eater czar and the gambling addict czar.
Kenneth Packard January 15, 2014 at 07:50 PM
Mike, If I didn't know better, I would think you were probably stoned while trying to make this case! To say"the two drugs that kill more Americans are cigarettes and alcohol" is absolutely true. When you consider this fact, does marijuana REALLY belong on the list of schedule one drugs (along with heroin and all the other serious drugs). Over 800,000 people are arrested for marijuana offenses each year. The great "Free State" has has one of the highest arrest rates for this offense. I'm a member of your generation, but the time has come to recognize the fact that the values of the past aren't going to survive us. People have had enough of this nonsense and are demanding change. I'm truly sorry you have struggled with an addiction issue in the past, but don't let your personal issue poison the well for all the others who have relaxed while smoking a joint - just as our generation has turned to a glass of wine.

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