Consequences Erica Dinerman is project manager for Natick Together for Youth, a substance abuse prevention project of Natick, MA Public Schools. The MetroWest Daily News on March 15 published a letter from her office urging voters to oppose a medical marijuana legalization initiative which has not yet made it to the November 2012 general election ballot. Ms. Dinerman began her letter by noting that her program was the recipient of a new Drug Free Communities Grant of $625,000 over a five-year period. That's 125,000 of our tax dollars each year for the next five years. Ms. Dinerman made clear that the focus of those tax dollars in the first year was opposing a medical marijuana initiative in Massachusetts. According to ONDCP, state and local agencies – like Natick Public Schools – and their officers and employees – like Ms. Dinerman - must abide by the same Hatch Act restrictions against political involvement which federal employees must obey. Unfortunately, the Hatch Act does not restrict involvement in initiative and referenda campaigns, in fact they are specifically exempted. So it's legal. The Hatch Act concern is merely a technicality, however. Let's get to the real meat of the story. According to ONDCP, Drug Free Community grants are for the purpose of preventing youth substance use. On her website, Ms. Dinerman asserts that medical marijuana laws mean increased youth use. It's not true, though young people and adults are more likely to admit using marijuana once penalties are reduced because they feel less afraid of admitting the truth, but nuances seem lost on Ms. Dinerman. To Ms. Dinerman, concerns like alcohol, tobacco, inhalants, and prescription drugs – the youth drug use concerns which most schools face – seem to pale in significance compared with adult use of medical marijuana by physician-authorized patients. Is this what the parents in the Natick Public School system consider their biggest threat? It's certainly not what real prevention professionals would call effective use of very limited federal funds. Some people might even call it sleazy and unethical. At the end of the day the ones who will suffer most are the students in Natick Public School system. Ms. Dinerman does seem to be concerned with consequences. She used the word four times in her 290 word letter. One can only hope Ms. Dinerman will learn the consequences for misusing limited federal resources in this way – if not in real court, then at least in the court of public opinion. For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay, Common Sense for Drug Policy.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Consequences - New Audio for the Drug Truth Network
This is a segment I recorded for the Drug Truth Network. It's being broadcast on March 20, 2012, and is available here.