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September 11th, 2014 7:00 pm by Nick Shepherd
Marijuana dominated much of the discussion when a local legislator visited the Sullivan County Anti-Drug coalition at their monthly meeting on Thursday.
This year marked the fourth annual dialogue between legislators and members of the coalition. State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, discussed with the group legislation regarding drugs from the past session and what bills, if any, might come up in the new legislative session starting in January.
Lundberg started out his talk by discussing legislation regarding Sudafed. The new law went into effect on July 1 and caps the amount of pseudoephedrine purchases without a prescription at 28.8 grams a year. The state representative readily admitted this law would not stop people cooking methamphetamine.
Then the conversation quickly shifted to marijuana and the legalization of it.
“Frankly there are a lot of moves by the people to legalize marijuana in Nashville,” he said. “If you are like me, you’re thinking that’s silly, that’s ridiculous.”
After talking about strengthening DUI laws to include interlock, a bill to expand open container laws to apply to all passengers in a car and selling wine in grocery stores as a business decision, the conversation shifted back to marijuana.
Lundberg talked about going on a trip to Los Angeles and seeing medical marijuana dispensaries everywhere. He said there were literally more dispensaries than Starbucks. He believes allowing any form of legal marijuana in the state of Tennessee would have dire consequences.
“I think that would just be a horrific door to open in Tennessee,” he said. “I think it leads to everything else that comes down, so if you talk about how did I get to bath salts, cocaine, heroin and everything else. If you want to call it a gateway, frankly it’s a natural way to get there.”
He went on to discuss Colorado. He said there were two ways to look at the legalization of marijuana in that state, the economic side or the crime side. He said the economic side is doing well with all the taxes they raised but he said crime has gone up around the marijuana stores.
According to the Denver Post, crime at all 700 licensed marijuana stores is on pace for the lowest total in three years. Violent and property crimes in Denver are also down since recreational marijuana was legalized.
He discussed what the Colorado legislature was going through with trying to figure out how to measure how much THC has to be present in a person’s system in order to charge them with a DUI. Concerns were also raised about the chocolates and candies infused with marijuana. He doesn’t believe legalization has done anything positive.
Lundberg admitted he’s not a doctor and marijuana may have some medicinal value.
He said alcohol when consumed in large quantities is probably worse than marijuana.
“I drink on occasions, not every day, but once a month my wife and I will have a bottle of wine,” he told SCAD members. “I have never opened up a bottle of wine to get drunk. The people I socialize with when we drink a glass of wine, it’s really a social thing, it’s not to get a buzz or anything like that. I don’t know anyone who has bought a joint to be social…Anyone who smokes pot is doing it specifically to get stoned. I don’t think that’s the case with most people who drink wine.”
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