Should Marijuana be Legal in Ohio?

A drug task force detective gives his reasons why the substance should not be legalized.

Aside from job security, there is one big reason Stow Detective Tom Gottas, of the narcotics division, says marijuana should not be legalized.

"We can't legalize something that leads to bad stuff," he said.

After 20 years on the Stow force, most people he runs into that are doing drugs admit they started with pot.

"It's a gateway drug," Gottas said. "They start with that, and then they want to use something stronger to get higher and get into higher levels of drug abuse."

One of Stow's bigger drug problems is marijuana at the high school, he said during a Neighborhood Watch meeting May 17.

"There's a lot of money in Stow and almost every student at the high school [has the ability to] drive to places like Akron to buy it," Gottas said. "Stow is a great place to live. We have the same problems everyone else has with marijuana,  just on a lesser level than bigger communities."

According to police, one in every four traffic stops in Stow results in finding marijuana or drug paraphernalia.

"I've see people's drug use, which started out with marijuana, turn into a big, big, big problem," Gottas said.

Police Seize 88 Marijuana Plants

Recently the department received an anonymous tip on its drug line, 330-689-DRUG, about a home less than a mile away from the that had a grow operation.

The department . Each plant was half grown and valued around $500 each.

Gottas said it's not uncommon for the department to receive an anonymous tip. While the Summit County Drug Task Force is constantly investigating, drugs are found for three reasons: revenge, case consideration and cash.

"Sometimes they get ripped off on a drug deal and want to report the seller," he said. "Other times they've been arrested and want to get their charges reduced."

The department also pays cash to those who go out and buy drugs undercover — usually between $50 and $100, said Gottas.

If anyone wishes to give an anonymous drug tip, call 330-689-DRUG. Gottas said the department does not trace those calls and a number is not picked up by caller I.D.

James Thomas May 19, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Dan, "There is nothing "other than job security" here. You can't possibly expect a narcotics cop to talk honestly about this question when he has a vested interest (his salary) in the status quo." I can expect an officer to honestly represent their demonstrated years of experience in response to a question. In fact I demand that they do so. He did. Let the debate be robust. Great Quote by the way, but here you failed. That quote may have been attributed to Lincoln but there is serious doubt as to whether he actually said it.
Robin Anderson May 19, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Hey! Stay away from my Maxwell House, ma'am! New studies have shown just how much us guys need same. :)
Ed Kent May 19, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Smoking marijuana can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells. For patients with already weakened immune systems, this means an increase in the possibility of dangerous pulmonary infections, including pneumonia, which often proves fatal in AIDS patients. Regular smoking has been shown to materially affect the overall ability of the smoker's body to defend itself against infection by weakening various natural immune mechanisms, including macrophages (a.k.a. "killer cells") and the all-important T-cells. Obviously, this suggests the conclusion, which is well-supported by scientific studies, that the use of marijuana as a medical therapy can and does have a very serious negative effect on patients with pre-existing immune deficits resulting from AIDS, organ transplantation, or cancer chemotherapy, the very conditions for which marijuana has most often been touted and suggested as a treatment. It has also been shown that marijuana use can accelerate the progression of HIV to full-blown AIDS and increase the occurrence of infections and Kaposi's sarcoma. In addition, patients with weak immune systems will be even less able to defend themselves against the various respiratory cancers and conditions to which consistent marijuana use has been linked. http://www.marijuana-addiction.org/Effects_of_Marijuana.htm
Dan May 19, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I assume you'd expect a defense contractor to talk honestly about questions of national security, or a cab driver to talk honestly about questions of public transportation? You say casually "he did," but how do you know? How does he know? I'd bet most of these people who "started with marijuana" actually started with alcohol and moved on to marijuana. The point is that we often believe what we want to believe for a reason, and he has a very good reason to believe his narrative. Regardless, even if he's 100% accurate - that marijuana is as harmful as is claimed - we have to weigh those harms against the harms of prohibition: increased crimes, lack of control over price, purity, and sales, loss of revenue, denial of education and employment to arrestees, etc... Regarding the quote, I'll offer up "Lincoln, Esquire: a shrewd, sophisticated lawyer in his time" By Allen D. Spiegel, page 4.
Robin Anderson May 19, 2011 at 04:15 PM
One indepth study of many, JT; glad to see you have the werewithall to at least find it. Too bad you don't have the cognizance to understand it's content or how the observations of those charged with enforcement, such as Detective Gottas, are only one small part of the puzzle. Um...you're mistaken stating that I've made any argument against the responsible use of alcohol(psst...buy stock in Sam Adams, eh?)
Robin Anderson May 19, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Um...Dan? Not exactly cricket to question the motives of a fellow law enforcement officer like that, eh? Especially when he's willing to put his full name behind his words. Where was it you said you worked as a prosecuting attorney and for how long?
Robin Anderson May 19, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Just like cigarettes, eh, Ed? "Medical marijuana" would probably be prescribed with the same prohibitions used with so many of the "legal" psychotropic drugs in use today; "it has been determined that the benefits of using this medicine outweigh it's possible side-effects", or some such.
James Thomas May 19, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Dan, So, when I am in need of an authoritative opinion on National Security I should ask a baker? You are right I should have said I believe he did. As for the quote, Allen Spiegel got it wrong too. Check out this link: http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/lincoln.htm, or Google the terms "Lincoln temperance quote" and see if the amount of documentation challenging the authorship of this quote might at least provide reasonable doubt.
Ed Kent May 19, 2011 at 05:57 PM
I'm glad my parents didn't use drugs and taught us the value of our health and that we don't need drugs to be happy. They were a good example. Unfortunately, many of my friends who didn't have a very good upbringing ended up turning to joints for their escape, just like many turn to alcohol. I lost friends to drugs. Weed was their downfall. Some committed suicide. Others went deeper into that lifestyle and never really succeeded much in life. I'd try to help them as they'd be blurry eyed, stoned on weed and easily confused. So sad. When you’re high you don't realize how you really come across to others. A buddy of mine who was in a band said they experimented one time because they felt like they were more free and creative when they were smoking weed. So, they recorded their jam session while high. At the time they thought it was the greatest they'd ever played. Days later, when sober, they played back the recording and realize how terrible they sounded. They were stunned. Bottom line, if you feel you need weed, there's something wrong in your life. You're lacking something.
James Thomas May 19, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Robin A. Sorry I bunched your line of debate with Jen M's. The whole Medical Use of marijuana area is one I haven't made up my mind on. As you said it would have to be controlled and determined to be medically useful.
Becky Thatcher May 27, 2011 at 03:16 PM
I'm just tickled that Robin used the phrase "not exactly cricket..." On a more serious note, I've seen too many young people using weed for escape and it resulted in failure to thrive. I think legalization will worsen the situation. Having suffered through a period of self-medication, I must agree with Ed Kent's conclusion - the less the better. When you are looking foward to that mind-altering substance of choice, you should be sure that you are not simply burying the pain. I am not against medical use of marijuana, but I do not favor legalizing it for other purposes. Drunk or stoned adults are just not that funny to me.
James Thomas May 27, 2011 at 03:23 PM
And your poison is mj
Robin Anderson May 27, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Watch out, ma'am! Some folk around here might think you "denigrated" my post, separating it as you did from the "more serious" content you've chosen to respond to, eh? Coochie...coochie...cooh! Ahem...I'd guess that most folk would agree with you that, unless one's the prescribing physician or a stock holder in a pharmaceutical company, "the less is better" when it comes to prescription drugs. However, the reality of the situation is that, whether one is suffering from the likes of sciatica or some degree of autism/ADD, our society has found it more acceptable(expedient/cost-effective) to prescribe a drug-based remedy for such conditions rather than demanding either the personal commitment or the care-giver commitment necessary to provide a drug-free remedy. A recreational drug such as alcohol or nicotine or thc, on the other hand, is not only subject to government regulation but a taxable goldmine???
Susan_ May 28, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Quote from the article: "According to police, one in every four traffic stops in Stow results in finding marijuana or drug paraphernalia....." Obviously, a large number of people are ignoring the law, and they are going to continue to ignore the law. The war on drugs simply isn't winable. All it's doing is costing millions of dollars and creating a whole new class of criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens. It's a plant for heaven sake! Make it legal and put controls on it. Let's stop all the nonsense.
Kate Bigam June 07, 2011 at 02:57 PM
It seems to me that if marijuana is, indeed, a gateway drug, it's only because growing up, kids are taught that MARIJUANA IS SO DANGEROUS THAT IT WILL KILL YOU, & then when they do try it, they see that nothing bad happens to them - and so they wonder if their teachers were lying about the rest, too.
James Thomas June 07, 2011 at 04:44 PM
Kate Bigam, by your argument's logic there is no problem with tobacco either. It's just of matter of how long it takes to kill you. Either 40 years of tobacco use or years of increasing potency drug use. With drug use there are also the mind impairment issues. Would you prefer to be driving on the same road as someone under the influence of tobacco or of marijuana?
Ward Benson June 07, 2011 at 05:36 PM
It amazes me the myth that this drug isn't harmful still circulates among young adults my age (18 to 45). They need to stop in sometime at an addiction center or halfway house to see what pot does to people who continue that lifestyle. I've worked with people to help them in that condition. It certainly impairs judgement as do other mood altering drugs.
Robin Anderson June 07, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Shoulda' used alcohol vs marijuana in your argument instead of tobacco, JT...it would have been more logical. In any case, both the tobacco & alcohol industries, being legalized & regulated by the State, have been forced to promote programs aimed at educating folk, especially youngsters, as to the potential health problems associated with each and the need for moderate/responsible use where appropriate. Placed under the light of public scrutiny such legalized drug use may then be attenuated via such social resources as the private health insurance industry(stop smoking programs), private/public employment policies(no tobacco use/drug testing/EAP programs) and public law(no smoking areas/dui ordinances/American with Disabilities Act).
James Thomas June 07, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Just trying to use proven health risks to make the point that cumulative use of tobacco, mj and alcohol causes the problems. Of course it won't kill you on first, second or even twentieth use; but twenty years of continuing use or worse, escalating drug use, to which marijuana may be the gateway, will see problems arise. Question? What are the known health effects of marijuana in the area of breathing diseases?
Arlene Templeton June 25, 2011 at 12:35 AM
I agree that if you are a recreational drug user that you might find ppl stepping things up with the harder stuff but they probably would do that anyway, whether or not marijuana is legalized. We are talking about using marijuana for those of us who need it because we have MEDICAL CONDITIONS it would help. For instance...MS, cancer patients benefit from it, people who are living with cronic pain etc...these ppl are living with pain that even our best narcotics often times can't touch. It's OK for ppl to seriously medicated themselves with narcotics that have a ton of side effects even to the point that they can't function, but when we ask for marijuana that has little side effects we can't because it might lead to more powerful drugs. Hello...morphine, oxycotin, hydrocodiene these are all prescribed drugs that are pretty powerful, addictive and they come with lots of side effects including they can lower your respirations to a point that they can kill you. Marijuana has never done that...and not to minimize this but the side effects are the munchies and sleepyiness. Do you see the irony?
Ed Fisher July 27, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Very detailed medical crap you spout there. If you want to prove any point for either side, just start blathering out pseudo science from your favorite biased source. Now how is it again that folks with weakened immune systems are harmed ? You Bozo, my immune system was decimated by the chemo I had for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and yet the medical community recognizes the value in marijuana use for the incredible nausea and headaches that resulted. And hey, narc cop, no one I know smoked pot during chemo, then was magically enticed into stronger drugs. That's an absolute falsehood and you know it. You've got to tow the company line, and we all know it. And James Thomas, the sound of your already-made-up mind slamming shut has been acknowledged.
Kobe Jackson July 27, 2012 at 04:51 PM
First off, this comment is ridiculous: "There's a lot of money in Stow and almost every student at the high school [has the ability to] drive to places like Akron to buy it." If he thinks no one in Stow sells marijuana, he is highly mistaken. Secondly, marijuana is NOT a gateway drug. 99.9% of marijuana users drank alcohol before ever ingesting marijuana. Alcohol is the true gateway drug, the only difference is that it is legal. Alcohol is far more addicting and damaging to the body than marijuana. Smoking anything does have its negatives, but it is not necessary to smoke marijuana. It is becoming very popular to eat marijuana edibles as well as using vapor machines to vaporize the marijuana, which is very safe and not damaging to the body. The only reason there is this negative persona about the marijuana culture is because it is illegal. If you want marijuana you have to go to a "drug dealer" which may not be the safest thing in the world. If we legalized it, you wouldn't have to go to a dealer, you could go to a reputable seller that is regulated just like alcohol or tobacco. One thing I never understood is, why we do exactly what the drug dealers and cartel leaders want? Cartels make billions each year from selling drugs. They openly thank the United States for keeping drugs illegal so they can continue making large sums of money. If we legalize, they no longer have an income. They lose their power.
Ed Fisher July 27, 2012 at 05:11 PM
And therein is the root of the issue. If you support the continued criminalization of marijuana, then you SUPPORT the Mexican drug cartels controlling growing, smuggling, and distributing. Along with domestic organized crime including the mafia and outlaw biker clubs. HOWEVER, if you support legalization, then you support the lawful production by America's farmers, the control, licensing, and taxing by the government, and distribution by private enterprise. A potentially huge benefit for this country. All while putting a lot of crooked people out of business. Because the absolute bottom line is: MARIJUANA USE IS NOT GOING AWAY. Why haven't we learned that by now ? All of your pontificating make absolutely no difference to the over 50% of Americans that support legalization. So.....given the two choices above......who do you support ?
Todd Gilbert July 30, 2012 at 05:29 AM
"It's a gateway drug," Gottas said. "They start with that, and then they want to use something stronger to get higher and get into higher levels of drug abuse." Currently, about 30-35 million people regularly smoke marijuana in the United States. So based on Mr. Gottas' "gateway" logic, that would mean about 30-35 million people also use "harder" drugs on a regular basis. However, this is not anywhere near that statistical fact. Therefore, it is unlikely that marijuana use has any causal connection to the use of harder drugs.
adam September 05, 2012 at 03:52 AM
to all you people out there who claim that marijuana is a "gateway drug" are completely missing the most important fact. By keeping marijuana unregulated, children HAVE ACCESS to the stuff, ALLOWING abuse in the first place. If it were properly regulated, then you'd have less people trying to sell it, (no longer cost effective and profit producing) and therefore less children walking around smoking. It is common sense. With the current drug policy however, people (KIDS and adults) deal with shady drug dealers who may entice them to try something new. You cant walk into a bar, and get pressured to try cocaine, why? because alcohol is LEGAL and therefore has a safe venue to buy. THIS is why "all meth users started with pot" Its because the same place they get pot, IS THE SAME PLACE they get meth! It's logical probability. in order to try "harder drugs" you need to be exposed to them, and keeping marijuana illegal is exposing children, teens, and adults to real criminals, and real drugs.
adam September 05, 2012 at 04:45 AM
to answer your question James, vaporization of marijuana has 0 breathing diseases associated with it. If marijuana was legalized, and real education given on the topic, maybe more people would know about it, and smoking of the substance would decrease (vaporizing is a no-combustion means of safely administering THC without tar, or carcinogens) . Also, the question you ask is bias and doesn't fully scope the entire issue. "would you prefer to be driving on the same road as someone under the influence of tobacco or of marijuana?" well... research on "driving high" is readily available for all who search for it: http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/04/auto_insurance_site_says_marijuana_users_are_safer.php before you say that the site itself is bias, because it definitely is, note that the study the site quotes is a car insurance agency. THEY CANT be bias because they will lose money if their research is wrong, and make unwise business decisions based off of it. It's in their best interest to have the best research possible. Also, it is a fact that almost every state that has legalized medicinal marijuana is having less accidents, check the NORML site, and at least hear what they have to say. So going back to your question: "Would you prefer to be driving on the same road as someone under the influence of tobacco or of marijuana?" maybe the answer is simply: either, as long as they weren't drinking.
adam September 05, 2012 at 04:55 AM
I think your missing his point James, it is in the mans interest to say "drugs are gateway drugs" because without that, what else is stopping people from legalizing it? and, if it's legalized, he might lose his job, or his task force might get disbanded. when you said "So, when I am in need of an authoritative opinion on National Security I should ask a baker?" your stretching it. All dan is trying to say is that you need to consider the source. Try going to the NORML website, and hear what they have to say, weigh it with common sense, and see what the fuss is about. It's no mistake that 17 states are now medically approved, and 2 states are voting for legalization. I'm not here to tell you how to think, but i do want to assure your well informed
James Thomas September 05, 2012 at 01:32 PM
No Adam, I got his point exactly. In this discussion I consider you and NORML (which I have gone to) bakers.
Debbie S. September 20, 2012 at 12:06 AM
"Teenagers who frequently smoke marijuana may be setting themselves up for declines in intelligence and mental function that persist well into adulthood, new research suggests. In a decades-long study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, researchers found that adolescents who used marijuana at least four days per week lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 13 and 38 -- a pattern not seen among people who began smoking heavily only in adulthood." "Heavy pot smokers tended to show deficits in memory, concentration, and overall brainpower in relation to their peers, but these problems were more pronounced -- and seemingly more lasting -- among those who picked up the habit as teens, the study found." http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/27/health/health-teen-pot/index.html%3Fhpt=hp_c3?iref=obnetwork
www September 29, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Lets see here of course people would say that it shouldnt be legal but none of them are doctors,it is not the gateway drug if you chose to do a stronger drug thats your promblem dummy,it was here before us and it will be here after us somke a joint or two and drive ,,but have a few drinks and see what happens,all people that think it should not be legal go crawl in a box and stay there ,Medical reasons yes just to smoke no ,it has so many good things about it ,so everyone needs to stop riding the coat tails of others and stop brown noising dummys ,go find the idiots making coke crack herion speed thoes are bad drugs not weed .


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