When people inquire of me how my campaign for city councilman of Cleveland’s 7th Ward is going, I have to answer in all honesty, “I don’t know. Since this is my first rodeo, I don’t have a comparative basis from which to judge if I’m doing well, badly or somewhere in between.”
I do know that I’m very comfortable with — and energized by — the conversations I’ve been having with my neighbors in the 7th Ward, as well with others from around the city, county and beyond. I’ve spoken to friends that I haven’t talked to in years. And as someone who has never been shy in regards to expressing an opinion on just about anything under the sun, I’m now being asked to come up with solutions to just about everything under the sun.
But I kind of relish having my feet held to the fire of positing solutions since that’s what I’ve been offering up with my pen for well over 20 years now. The only difference is, previously I never gave a damn if anyone agreed with me or not. But now, since I want people in my ward to vote for me, I suppose that I should be trying to get people to see things my way — and I am, of sorts. But the truth is, I’ve discovered that I am only willing to yield my opinions but so far. What I’m not willing to do is to pander to folks for their vote, or to suffer fools gladly. There are limits.
Yeah, I want to win the election (and I fully intend to) but I’ve found that I can only alter my opinion when someone makes a more valid and salient conclusion than the one I’ve arrived at. I have to be convinced with reason, logic and a better argument. I can’t agree with something I don’t believe simply to gain a single vote — or any number of them. After all, I have to look at myself in the mirror.
But recently I did lose a donor (thankfully not a vote) due to one of my positions. As I was “dialing for dollars,” attempting to persuade folks to attend my fundraiser, I spoke with a guy I’ve known for years. He’s a drug policy expert who formerly worked for the county and currently is in private practice. More than once I’d had him as a guest on my radio show, in spite of the fact I disagree with some of his well-articulated positions.
Anyway, after we chatted amicably for a while, he assured me that even if he wasn’t able to make my fundraiser, he would donate to my campaign, and I thanked him. However, a few days later I got a text message from the gentleman explaining that he couldn’t support my candidacy because of my position on the legalization of marijuana. The good thing is, he doesn’t live in my ward, so, as I said, I didn’t lose a vote.
This is a man of color, obviously highly educated, and if I recall the position that he took when he appeared on my radio show goes something like this: “All of the evidence isn’t in on the safety of marijuana,” which is the excuse drug warriors use to keep weed illegal. Of course there could be study after study after study and the answer could always be “inconclusive” if that’s the answer one wants to hear. But one thing that isn’t “inconclusive” is the fact that no one — in the history of mankind — has ever overdosed on pot.
Is pot smoking actually good for you? Probably not, especially if done to excess. But the damage done to society by keeping marijuana illegal far outweighs all other considerations — by a long shot. In fact, a recent study concluded that legalizing weed will result in fewer overdose deaths from opioids.
Colleen Barry, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research, wrote in the New York Times that she and her team found opioid overdose deaths decreased significantly — by as much as 25% — in states that made medical marijuana legal. According to her study, after the passage of legal medical marijuana, states saw a reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths in the first year, and that only grew in following years. Two other studies also showed similar findings.
So, I guess I won’t be garnering the “anti-pot legalization” vote, but on the other hand, I’d rather be right on this. He can keep his contribution.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com.