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Letter to Gov. Ivey, Sen. Holley and Rep. Jones from Covington County District Attorney Walt Merrell, Circuit Court Judge Lex Short, Circuit Judge Ben Bowden, District Court Judge Julie Moody, Sheriff Blake Turman and every Chief of every police department in Covington County

Dear Governor Ivey, Senator Holley and Representative Jones,
We write to you today, steadfast in our solidarity and opposition to the marijuana bill that the legislature is considering.
For too long, we have seen the first-hand effects of marijuana on society. A gateway drug, it surely is, for we have seen too many juveniles and young adults find their way into the throes of a much more serious addiction because they first were enchanted by marijuana. Marijuana is a wolf in sheep’s clothing… Too many in the general public have been convinced that it is harmless. That is, perhaps, the biggest lie that is being perpetrated on the Alabama public today. Please don’t further the lie by voting for any form of legalization.
Study after study has demonstrated that every medicinal property that might be contained within the cannabis plant can be extracted. That said, there is no need to ingest plant marijuana or THC extract, in any form other than what is already being produced through the pharmaceutical companies. In fact, Marinol, a quite successful drug that aids cancer patients in regaining their appetite, has long been made from the cannabis plant and comes in pill form. Moreover, UAB is at the forefront of pioneering an extract that has shown great progress with the treatment of pediatric epileptic seizures. Again though, the medicine has been extracted from the plant, so there is no intoxicating effect nor any harmful consequence from the use of the drug.
Study after study shows the harmful effects of the long-term use of marijuana. Respectable science is resolute… Smoking marijuana and suffering the effects of its intoxicants are harmful to the human body. Quoting a thorough article written by former New York Times reporter, Alex Berenson, “[a]fter an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”” Also, that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.”
Science contradicts the myths. And though the myths are prolific about the benefits of marijuana, the advocates for legalization spread these myths because they fit well with their agenda. We have attached the above referenced article for your review, because the author cites studies from respected medical associations from all over the world. Time and again, those studies conclude that marijuana has dangerous consequences for the user and that the “myths” used to promote legalization are, often times, readily accepted as true, even though they are outright lies. To that point, he writes, “[e]ven cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.”
As to the issue of legislatively permitted marijuana use, states that long ago legalized marijuana in some form, are now consumed by it. Colorado, often heralded as the go-to example of what marijuana legalization can do, now has to reconcile its legalization with the industry’s true effect on the people… not just the economy. Also attached is a detailed article by left leaning POLITICO on how the marijuana industry is engaged in an all-out assault on the poor. We live in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. Surely, we ought not allow predators into the coup, all for the sake of raising revenue. Surely our morals and values are worth more?
Please do not be deceived. Vote ‘no’ against any bill that proposes to legalize marijuana in any form. We respectfully insist. Below, you will find the signatures of officials from the 22nd Judicial Circuit, to include Presiding Circuit Court Judge Lex Short, Circuit Judge Ben Bowden, District Court Judge Julie Moody, Sheriff Blake Turman and every Chief of every police department in Covington County.
Thank you, and with warmest personal regards, we are
Sincerely yours,
Walt Merrell, District Attorney
Charles A. “Lex” Short, Presiding Circuit Court Judge
Ben Bowden, Circuit Court Judge
Julie S. Moody, District Court Judge
Blake Turman, Covington County Sheriff
Paul Hudson, Chief, Andalusia Police Department
Kevin Chance, Chief, Opp Police Department
Sonny Bedsole, Chief, Florala Police Department
Howard West, Chief, Red Level Police Department
Ken Harris, Chief, Gantt Police Department
Kyle Adams, Chief, River Falls Police Department
Greg Jackson, Chief, Lockhart Police Department