Speaker opposes legal marijuana | News, Sports, Jobs – Altoona Mirror

DUNCANSVILLE — Toward the end of a presentation before about 20 people, the chief of staff of Smart Approaches to Marijuana talked about the seeds of his opposition to legalizing recreational use of the drug.

Luke Niforatos and his wife used to push their daughter in a stroller near their home in Colorado, which legalized recreational pot in 2014. His daughter would be wreathed repeatedly in secondhand marijuana smoke, leading his wife to say, “This isn’t normal,” Niforatos told attendees at the talk, sponsored by the Blair Drug & Alcohol Partnership.

After that realization, he joined SAM, whose mission includes discouraging other states from following the 10 locations (including Washington, D.C.) that have approved recreational legalization.

Legalization isn’t as popular or discouraging to criminality as advertised. It also is disproportionately harmful to poor communities, isn’t as lucrative for government or isn’t capable of relieving prison overcrowding as its advocates claim, according to Niforatos.

Legalization advocates claim that a majority favors their side, but when survey questions are reframed to include the option to decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana, a healthy majority favor continued prohibition of recreational use, Niforatos told attendees.

Two-thirds of Americans favor legalization, according to the Marijuana Policy Project’s Director of State Policies Karen O’Keefe. who responded by email to a request for comment from the Mirror.

The SAM claims are based on “push-polls (that) managed to get the answers they want,” she wrote.

Niforatos said, “It may sound counterintuitive,” he said. “(But) the black market doesn’t go away.”

People may have the impression that legalization favors small players, Niforatos said. But most of the marijuana being sold now in states where it’s legal is grown by big producers.

Tobacco firms like Altria, makers of Marlboro, along with drug firms, including one that involves a

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