The have been a number of heated debates in various states throughout the nation on the subject of decriminalization of marijuana at the user level. Indeed, some states have legalized it despite the federal ban.

As of June 2015, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana use to some degree, most of them in the arena of medically recommended marijuana.

Federal law, however, prohibits physicians from actually prescribing marijuana, essentially rendering those laws invalid.

Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. These are Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii.

Again, federal law prohibits recreational use, negating the state laws. Whether the federal government is willing to stand on its hind legs and enforce the federal ban remains to be seen.

Arguments persist, particularly by those who regularly use marijuana that the use of marijuana is no worse than the use of legal alcohol, and therefore should be legalized as well.

Truth be told, both of these substances are exceedingly harmful if abused or even occasionally used in excess.

Another argument at the fore is that smoking marijuana is no more harmful than smoking cigarettes.

Wrong. It is true that cigarette smoking is harmful to health, owing to the tars and addictive nicotine. It is also true that marijuana contains tars — 50 to 100 percent more than cigarettes. Consider that the harmful aspects of smoking one marijuana “joint” are equal to smoking seven to 10 cigarettes.

We have all read about or seen firsthand the catastrophes resulting from drunk-driving incidents, alcohol-fueled domestic violence and public affrays. Many of these result in property damage, physical harm and even death, regardless of which substance was abused and was the catalyst.

In January 2014, I contributed my opinion for an article written by Wendy Sledd, the Cove Herald editor at that time, addressing the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana.

It was presumed by some that legalization of pot would decrease police activity as it pertained to small-quantity arrests, thereby freeing the police to concentrate on other, more serious areas of policing.

I opined that legalization of pot would increase the number of intoxication contacts between the police and the public and in fact would neither decrease crime nor lessen jail over crowding.

Simply put, user-lever marijuana arrests would be replaced by user-lever intoxication arrests. There would be little change in police activity.

I also believe that legalization of marijuana would create more intoxicated drivers, increased domestic violence and other crimes of assault.

There are other areas of concern over and above the law enforcement issue.

One of these is a theory held in the law enforcement and drug and alcohol abuse communities known as the “Gateway Theory.”

It is believed and substantiated to some degree that the use of marijuana leads to the use and abuse of many other harmful drugs.

Studies have shown children ages 12 through 17 who have used marijuana are more than 80 percent more likely to try cocaine. The reasons for this are myriad.

Some users are self-persuaded to seek more intense highs. Others may try harder drugs in an effort to impress peers with their prowess and daring.

Marijuana usage has been linked to teen violence, criminal activity and even suicide.

Both marijuana and alcohol work to decrease inhibitions with an equal decrease in judgment.

Those under the influence of any intoxicant or mood-altering substance are less inhibited to perform acts and deeds they would not even consider doing when sober.

In the short term, marijuana usage can create effects, which include hallucinations, paranoia, psychotic episodes, mood swings and impaired coordination.

In the long term, pot usage has many of the same effects as tobacco (from the heavy doses of tar), including chronic bronchitis, vein and artery blockages and confused or slow thinking.

Add to these extras, long-term usage can also lead to decreased sexual drive. The risks far outweigh any pleasurable or euphoric effects of this drug.

John Vander WERFF is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

(7) comments


Marijuana occasionally used in excess is "exceedingly harmful"?

Citation, please.


Ah, you just made that up out of whole cloth ...


INACCURACY #1 - Marijuana is NOT legal in Hawaii - Medical marijuana is available in Hawaii but it is so strictly regulated that only those in dire need (ie; terminal cancer patients as an example) are allowed access only thru state approved medical doctors and a state appointed review board.

INACCURACY #2 - Marijuana is NOT "exceedingly harmful if abused or even occasionally used in excess" - Unlike alcohol, there is not a single record of a marijuana overdose - EVER! Over 3,500 years of use and study of marijuana have failed to produce a single direct link between marijuana use and any known disease or genetic disorder - In other words, Marijuana doesn't kill you or make your babies come out deformed or retarded. Sugar is a far worse and immediate threat to one's health than marijuana will ever be.

INACCURACY #3 - Legal Marijuana does not present a higher incidence of intoxication calls for LEA - 2 years of records with the Denver PD show that calls of this nature have remained steady with levels similar to those before legalization, and the vast majority of those calls are alcohol related only.

INACCURACY #4 "It is believed and substantiated to some degree that the use of marijuana leads to the use and abuse of many other harmful drugs" - Yet in countries that have allowed legal marijuana use, the presence of harder drugs actually goes way down.

INACCURACY #5 - Marijuana doesn't make people engage in criminal activity, it's the spectacularly failed decades-long social experiment of prohibition that is responsible for people engaging in criminal activity related to marijuana, and this is why the law needs to be changed and marijuana legalized on the Federal level - We are a nation of fair laws. - Not laws where the penalties (not just the criminal, but also social and economic penalties) are far worse than the crime they're supposed to combat.


Perhaps it is not so troubling that police officer Vander Werff, having no medical expertise, makes unsubstantiated claims about marijuana. What is shocking are his factual inaccuracies about the law!

"Federal law, however, prohibits physicians from actually prescribing marijuana, essentially rendering those laws invalid."

Doctors are not "prescribing" cannabis. They recommend it and their first amendment right to do so has been federally litigated and is settled law!

"federal law prohibits recreational use, negating the state laws."

More BS! Nowhere in the US Constitution or in the Control Substances Act does it say that the fed can force states to adopt federal law and states have every right not to prosecute federal crimes, just as the fed cannot force states to prosecute federal tax evasion. Moreover, states are free to tax federal crimes. In fact, even the IRS does this, which is how they arrested Al Capone. He failed to pay taxes on his illegally gotten gains.

State laws regulating cannabis are completely legal as long as they don't obstruct the fed should it prosecute state marijuana crimes. How do state laws obstruct the fed? To the contrary, these laws make it much easier for the fed to prosecute. The fed could subpoena all state records of licensed stores and prosecute them. As long as the state complies with the subpoena they have not obstructed federal law. Regulation would assist the fed in its prosecution, not obstruct it!

Lastly, any conservative will tell you that taxation and regulation does not encourage or condone marketplaces, it obstructs them!


What troubles me most is Officer Werff seems to truly believes what he has written.
Over the top rhetoric only helps further the marijuana legalization efforts underway across the nation and the world. So in a backwards way we owe you a thanks.

The majority of people do not believe marijuana is dangerous. Grand exaggerations, outdated data and long held opinions proven wrong only weakens your cause as a drug warrior against sensible marijuana laws.

Tactics like this are the reason the D.A.R.E program failed in keeping children from substance abuse. When you tell people pot makes them crazy and they then discover that is a lie they no longer listen to anything you say.

I know it rubs law enforcers the wrong way. You have spent your entire careers caging marijuana users but the writing is on the wall. Regardless of your great hope that the federal government will once again reach its DEA tentacles into state business and reengage the drug war is a false hope. It is not going to happen no matter who leads our nation. The days of kicking in doors and holding people hostage over plants is coming to a slow end. Its just the way it is.

Canada is fully legalizing, Mexico is legalizing, half our nation is legalized and several more states are likely to come on board this year. The days of the public believing the urban myths that drug warriors like to tell is pretty much over.

40 plus years of lies, myths, harassment, arrests and ruined lives is enough. The majority has educated themselves and knows marijuana is mostly harmless. If it bothers you maybe its time to hang up your boots and go fishing.

Government Study: Project D.A.R.E. Outcome Effectiveness Revisited
Conclusions. Our study supports previous findings indicating that D.A.R.E. is ineffective.

New Schools, Less Crime: Colorado Sees Benefits Of Marijuana Legalization
Marijuana sales in Colorado continue to climb while crime statistics suggest the state is becoming safer than ever.
After legalization, Colorado pot arrests plunge

Quote: "A new study published in the Scientific Reports journal reveals that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol"
"Alcohol was found to be the deadliest drug, followed by heroin, cocaine, tobacco, ecstasy, methamphetamines and marijuana."
Source: Marijuana vs. alcohol vs. tobacco: Study says weed nowhere near as deadly as believed

Study: Marijuana Less Dangerous To Teen IQ Than Cigarettes

Study: Misleading and scientifically illiterate claims notwithstanding, there's little definitive evidence marijuana makes you dumb, dense, or crazy.

Here's How Many People Fatally Overdosed On Marijuana Last Year (spoiler: Its zero)

Marijuana: The Gateway Drug Myth

Road fatalities in Colorado have plummeted since marijuana was legalised

What Colorado's Governor Wants America to Know About Legalizing Weed

Justin Hale

What a total load of ignorant Crapola,,,,,then I see what his profession was, then it made sense.


This artical is nothing but reffer madness, it is full of lies. Yhe auther ought to be locked up for false reporting.

Justin Hale

It's an Opinion piece, and remember you don't have to know anything to have an opinion.

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