SUBSCRIPT: Randi Weingarten supports CA proposal to legalize marijuana

According to an April 11, 2010 article in The New York Daily News, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten supports a California proposal to make marijuana legal. Given how much school is disrupted by the failed 'War On Drugs,' Randi deserves the support of all teachers on this one. As former Director of Security for the Chicago Teachers Union (and before that security coordinator at Chicago's Bowen High School), I can attest that a relaxation of the criminal laws against most illegal drugs will not only reduce the problems we face in the public schools, but also reduce the incarceration rate among young people, a very good goal. Prohibition against drugs has failed, just like it did during the 1920s when alcohol was prohibited in the USA. Many of the currently illegal drugs in the USA should be viewed, like alcohol, as a matter of choice for adults — and taxed accordingly. The prohibition against the sale of such drugs to children should continue,

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten (above, speaking to the 2008 AFT National Convention in Chicago) has come out in favor of the legalization of marijuana under a proposal being voted on in California. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Below is the New York Daily News article on Randi's latest:

Head of American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten supports legalizing pot, BY GEORGE RUSH, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, Sunday, April 11th 2010, 4:00 AM

Teachers union boss Randi Weingarten thinks it's high time marijuana is legalized.

Weingarten — head of the American Federation of Teachers and former president of New York's United Federation of Teachers — came out in support of a California proposition to legalize pot for personal use.

"Everything in moderation is pretty much fine," Weingarten said when asked by "Real Time" host Bill Maher whether she'd back the measure.

"Wow," said fellow guest Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart. "Teacher-approved!"

Weingarten quickly added that she only endorsed pot smoking "if it's legal."

The California initiative, known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, would allow anyone over 21 to possess 1 oz. of marijuana and grow plants in an area no larger than 25 square feet.

It also allows marijuana to be grown and sold and imposes taxes on production and sales.

Asked by Maher about parents who toke up but don't want their children to, Weingarten said, "When something becomes a forbidden fruit, you have to spend a whole lot of time making sure that, when you say no, people don't think you mean yes."

Later, Weingarten told the Daily News, "I don't condone children using marijuana, or any other illegal drug, just as I don't condone underage drinking. And should marijuana become legal, I believe it should remain off-limits and illegal for children."

The 52-year old New York City native said, "As a baby boomer, I smoked marijuana. But as a baby boomer with asthma, my experimentation with it was short-lived."

While advocates of legalization have applauded Weingarten, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America blasted her stance.

"Legalizing marijuana would just add another substance, along with alcohol, to the menu of intoxicants that are already too available — and harmful — to kids," said Partnership spokeswoman Josie Feliz. "It's hard for us to look on legalization as a positive."

Voters will decide on the California initiative in November. 11_randi_ gives_legalizing_ pot_her_token_approval.html


April 12, 2010 at 11:35 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

retired teacher/parent

I agree with Weingarten. Marijuana is a lot less harmful than alcohol and destroying lives because of prison terms is wrong. I also know that the more we tell our children "no" to things, the more likely they are to rebel and do things that are really dangerous. I think it should have been legalized many years ago.

Hopefully Illinois will follow.

April 12, 2010 at 6:43 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Asthma was a good excuse to just say 'No!'

Like Randi, I had asthma and enough allergies to make it impossible for me to smoke hemp (one of the allergies), so I did tobacco, as many know, for more than 20 years. Malcolm X said that nicotine was more addictive than heroin, and he was a kind of expert. Kicking the nick as difficult, but one of the best things I ever did. Having marijuana illegal and nicotine legal (like alcohol) just shows how silly all these prohibitions were.

Maybe we can get every state to join California in this healthy approach, finally. One of the roughest choices we used to have to make in the discipline offices in the high schools was whether to suspend a kid for a joint and ruin his life. Maybe at New Trier they got counseling and the family could pay $10,000 to have someone listen to the "issues" the kid had (what 16 year old doesn't). Trouble was, in the ghetto every teacher became either complicit in the prison pipeline or working under the table against law and order.

The sooner Prohibition ends, the better. And not just for hemp.

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