The push to legalize marijuana in California has borne witness to a bevy of strange sleeping arrangements. Medical marijuana dispensaries are now bedfellows with unions; retired law enforcement officers have linked arms with longhairs; and Democrats like Sen. Barbara Boxer have ditched their progressive stances on personal freedom in order to appear tough on crime, even as one of Boxer’s own staffers was arrested on Capitol Hill for possessing weed.
As the days tick down to a vote on Prop. 19, yet another coalition of drug reformers has stepped forward with a new angle. The reformers are mothers, and their rallying cry is “do it for the children.”
On Tuesday, a contingent of California moms outlined the parental case for legalizing marijuana. During a press conference early in the day and a later conference call with reporters outside of California, the marijuana moms argued that it is in every child’s best interest for California to legalize the very same drug that schools and parents have religiously dogged since before the creation of first lady Nancy Reagan’s “Drug Abuse Resistance Education” program in the 1980s.
“It might be counterintuitive,” said Hanna Dershowitz, an attorney and mother of two, ages seven and five. “I have the conversation [with my kids] every day about how much sugar is appropriate,” she said. “The right thing is to have a reasonable conversation in the context of controlled, regulated marijuana.”
A member of the Women’s Marijuana Party, Dershowitz was one of several mothers who said during a conference call with reporters that the state’s punitive reactions to drug possession are not only drastic, but also anti-parent and anti-family.
“I am the mother of two sons, both are in their 30s, but once a mom, you’re always advocating for your children and your children’s children,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, a substance abuse counselor who helps families overcome addiction. In 1990, Bergman’s oldest son was arrested for marijuana possession. That charge, she wrote on the Huffington Post, “led to a decade of cycling in and out of the prison system for non-violent, low-level drug possession charges.”
It’s first-hand experience with the horrors of incarceration that sold Bergman on the need to change California’s drug laws. “Mothers are leading the charge, just as during the 30s,” she said. “Not because we love drugs and alcohol, but because we love our children and we cannot stand the costs of our punitive policies. The money raised through taxation could be spent on prevention, harm reduction, [and] education.”