Summarized response as sent to Prince William Times here.
Full comments below:
It is a matter of public safety and policy. The primary role of government is to keep its people safe. To do so, governing authorities have certain tools. For example, neighborhood roads often have speed limits of 25 MPH. Though few if any drivers actually observe those speed limits, they are tools law enforcement can utilize if needed.
The same applies to criminal use of marijuana and the death penalty. Substance abuse has horrible consequences. Just days ago, Olympic athlete Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for marijuana and was banned from competing in the 100m race in Tokyo. In 2017, The Washington Post wrote, “The most rigorous study yet of the effects of marijuana legalization has identified a disturbing result: College students with access to recreational cannabis on average earn worse grades and fail classes at a higher rate…The research on more than 4,000 students, published in the Review of Economic Studies, found that those who lost access to legal marijuana showed substantial improvement in their grades.”
Most college students reach age 21 and still have years of study ahead of them. Many of our best students here in Virginia—college and graduate—aspire to careers in the military and federal government, where marijuana is illegal. A naval officer navigating a billion dollar warship cannot have his judgment impaired. Neither can a pilot, a soldier, a spy. If the Commonwealth sends mixed messages, many young people will be caught unaware when they apply for a security clearance.
Last month, the Pew Research Center released a poll that shows 64% of Americans favor the death penalty for murder. In Virginia, only two men were on death row, both for heinous crimes. Capital punishment should be reserved for murderous crimes, but it should still be an option for those who have committed the worst possible crimes. The question becomes, why do some people want to remove the already limited tools government has to keep us safe?
Like speed limits, not even totalitarian regimes can enforce the letter of the law on citizens. I’ve lived in apartments and townhomes throughout the Commonwealth. In each place—from Virginia Beach to Woodbridge—I’ve had at least one neighbor who smoked pot. Many times, I’ve waived or said good morning, but the neighbor could only stare blankly.
I understand the temptation to manage pain: I’ve had surgeries and tragedies in my life. To suppose, however, that law enforcement will be able to help people maintain a four plant limit is ludicrous. Law enforcement has neither the time nor the funds to do so, and Democrats want to defund the police.
Government should not treat people as pawns, patients, or targets for taxes. Instead, an effective government protects its people. The best government conserves a framework of freedom for upstanding citizens to work and flourish.