The Case for Legalizing Marijuana

reposted in honor of the voters of Washington and Colorado

and also because you probably never read it

I spend a lot of time in an area of New Jersey in which hope, health, and happiness are low but drugs, hurt, and crime are high.  This has brought me to a conclusion that will not be greatly popular and doesn’t break any new ground; however, it must be said.  We must rethink some of the things that are illegal and consider making them legal.

I understand why most drugs are illegal.  I’ve never taken anything that I’ll admit to, but I am intrigued by the fun that people claim to have from using drugs.  I don’t have a great memory, nor do many drug users.  Thus, I often wish I had taken drugs so that at least I would have had the fun that everyone else had while still suffering the residual effects.  I knew a group of psychologists from the University of Pennsylvania who would gather about once a month for “research.”  About five of them would take one of the drugs on their checklist while another few would observe.  Those who were “off” that month would take notes, bolt the door, and strictly follow their policy of “what happens in research, stays in research.”

I understand why alcohol is restricted.  However, I remember a commercial from a Spanish television channel that I would watch when I was a kid.  There was a guy pushing what looked like an ice cream cart through a park.  He had a white suit, kind of looked like Leon Redbone, but instead of ice cream he handed out cans of “Schaeffer Malta” to a bunch of kids.  They were singing and dancing around the cart and having a damn good time.  Still, it’s kind of scary to think of kids walking into a 7-11 and sucking down a six pack as easily as they now finish off cans of Red Bull.  Although beer is much healthier than soda or those energy drinks, it still brings along that drunk thing.

The discussion I want to hear more about is the legalization of marijuana.  I’m not saying that the arguments for legalization or either solid or valid, but I am saying that they’re worth listening to and I can understand them.  I also understand long division, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it.

When it’s time to make controversial and significant change, four things must be weighed:  1. what are the detriments?  2. What are the benefits?  3. Do the benefits outweigh the detriments?  4. When is the next Springsteen album coming out?

Detriments:

  1. A mind altering substance becomes legal.  Does it alter one’s mind any more than alcohol?
  2. It is a substance that may have poisonous chemical additives due to uncontrolled production.  Are the chemicals added to marijuana any worse than the 43 poisons added to cigarettes?
  3. We are admitting failure by legalizing something that we’ve spent so much time and money fighting against.  I’m sure similar things have happened, like the rhetoric that was heard regarding casino gambling, prohibition, and our dependency on foreign oil.
  4. More people will have access to it, thus more people will use it.  As it stands now, anyone who wants marijuana seems to be able to get it without much trouble.  Prohibition didn’t decrease the number of users, but it gave them a cool place to hang out – but only if they knew the password.

Benefits:

  1. Legalizing marijuana will remove the criminal element.  By removing the criminal element, we will take the pressure off our already overcrowded penal system.  We will stop the violence that surrounds the transportation and commerce of marijuana.  Thousands of lives will be saved from the murders involving drug dealers, gangs, and the War on Drugs.  Thousands of people who make a living through selling drugs will be forced out of work but unable to drain our unemployment system.  We will deflate the image of the wealthy, urban drug dealer that is unfortunately greatly celebrated and admired in music and videos.  Many kids drop out of school because they can make a great deal of money working for drug dealers instead of Dunkin’ Donuts.  I don’t see too many rap songs coming out about middle-aged factory workers boxing up a shipment of state-grown marijuana.
  2. Legalizing marijuana will help the economy.  In the next ten years we’re either going to make cigarettes illegal or kick North Carolina out of the country.  That includes Duke Basketball.  However, there’s a way to save it.  Cigarettes are a major part of the economies of both the 12th state but all 50, plus Puerto Rico and DC, not necessarily in that order.  Philip Morris can now be called Philip Marijuana.  Let them grow, package, and sell it.  The tax income will be incredible, not to mention how much it will piss off a few South American countries that hate us.  We can even unionize it.  How cool would it be to join the Local 420 Friendly?  It will save jobs and money, but they’ll need a new state flag.
  3. It will decrease the number of Americans living in poverty.  This one is iffy.  Once marijuana is legal, the price will greatly decrease.  Now those who sit home, wasting 80% of their paycheck going up in smoke, will now have some money left when the “munchies” start creeping in.
  4. Decriminalization means control by the Food and Drug Administration.  This will greatly reduce the random people dropping dead because nobody knows what bathtub-mixed additives were laced into this week’s batch.

 

The biggest drawback I can see to legalization would be the concern for people driving while under the influence.  However, when you factor in the likely decrease of incidents involving aggressive driving and road rage, then it might be a wash.

-30-

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75 Responses to The Case for Legalizing Marijuana

  1. I say touche Washington & Colorado Well written initiatives My own home sate Oregon could take a draft writing lesson from either of the two.

    Great post!

  2. Hi Rich,
    Good post. Were you high when you wrote this? I’ve smoked pot off and on since the late 60s and done most of the other illegal drugs at one time or another. I was not surpirsed that here in Arkansas that the vote on medical marijuana failed. No place in the Confederacy has passed it. But I was suprised that it went down by so little, 51 to 49 percent. To me legalizing marijuana is a civil rights issue. Why should the government tell adults what they can put in their bodies? The government controls so many aspects of our lives. But I think this is going too far when you tell people what chemicals they can have in their bloodstream. I’m happy about CO and WA and hope Obama pulls off the DEA dogs and lets them have their weed. Ron

  3. ShimonZ says:

    never could understand why it’s illegal

  4. JackieP says:

    I don’t smoke anything period. I tried it a couple of times and didn’t like it. But I do agree it needs to be legal, and illegal for alcohol. Just my opinion

  5. How about “in honor of the voters in Washington who voted for the referendum”? Because not all of us are super happy about it. XD You make good points, but you don’t touch on how complicated it will be to put everything required to make this a true law into effect, or the fact that this is something that is now still illegal on the federal level, which puts businesses and employers in a very awkward situation. Not to mention the fact that you can’t test for something like marijuana if you pull someone over for a suspected DUI.

  6. Thaddeus Dombrowski says:

    “Decriminalization means control by the Food and Drug Administration. This will greatly reduce the random people dropping dead because nobody knows what bathtub-mixed additives were laced into this week’s batch.”

    I have never heard of anyone dropping dead because of marijuana. So, this comment seems out of place. I think it has validity in the context of drug legalization, where people do drop dead from heroin, cocain, or meth that is improperly produced or cut.

    I’m happy to see you questioning the drug war, however.

  7. Lois says:

    I was never that keen on marijuana, it never dd much for me, I preferred alcohol – beer, wine, whisky with flavour and the possibility of enjoyment in company of others… smoking pot always seemed to send people off into their own private little world.
    I can’t say I’m against it, but I have several friends who have been permanently damaged by using it.. and as a teacher I saw the effects on so many students. I know the same could be said for alcohol… I think I come down on the don’t legalise it camp, but it’s the sort of debate that could go on for ever!

  8. The only major problem to legalising some of these things is that there will be something else to come along and take their places in the underground.

    Making alcohol doesn’t work – prohibition showed us that. If people want this stuff bad enough, they’ll find a way of getting it.

    • rich says:

      yes, and that’s what’s happening now, they’re finding illegal ways that hurt people and crowd our jails with more years than killing someone would give you – sometimes.

      • Obviously I meant “making alcohol illegal doesn’t work”, but you clearly knew that.

        At some point someone will realise what’s going on. Another plus to things being legalised is that there will be a standard strength and you won’t get the stuff being cut with something that will make it stronger and cause accidental overdoses (which is something most dealers dislike because dead customers can’t pay. Cynical but true).

      • rich says:

        yes, but true.

  9. calahan says:

    If big tobacco saw the financial potential in selling legalized marijuana, it would get pushed through Congress is a heartbeat.

  10. Storkhunter says:

    I’ve never smoked anything in my life, but I totally agree with your reasons to legalize it. Cigarettes will never be illegal because the government relies on the tax revenue. Why can’t they apply the same logic to weed?

  11. My personal opinion? Both forms of cannabis need to be legal. Legalize Industrial Hemp, replace all plastics with it. It will be in very short order a billion dollar crop and new industries and jobs will crop up. Legalize marijuana, no person has died from it, not in car accidents or anything else.

  12. workspousestory says:

    To be fair, I’d agree too. Don’t see much difference between mj’s effects and alcohol, when abused. I love one or two from time to time ;)

  13. Tin Woman says:

    Maybe this is in the comments above, I admit I didn’t read them, but my biggest issue in this debate is no one is exposing why it’s illegal to begin with and it has nothing to do with “mind altering” because if you get down to it so is cough syrup (this is said after a weekend using the stuff and having some very psychedelic dreams) which, by the way, I was carded to by.

    There is one primary reason that marijuana is illegal … Capitalism.

    1. The THC in marijuana would negate the need for a host of pharmaceutical products. Epileptics could use it to regulate their seizures, pain therapy medications go virtually out the window, anxiety and anti-depressants, etc. I once saw a list that targeted roughly 200 medications. Also, most people don’t realize that our illustrious pharma industry spends millions attempting to synthesize THC in order to boost the effectiveness of their medication, but unfortunately, only smoking it works fully. All synthetic attempts have been less than effective. So, if weed was so bad and such a problem for our health, why attempt to synthesize it’s active ingredient.

    http://www.fdalawblog.net/fda_law_blog_hyman_phelps/2010/11/redefining-dronabinol-part-deux.html

    Now, the pharma industry is one of the biggest lobbies in this country, the CEOs are the highest paid. Do you think they want the home grower or corner dealer eating into their wallets?

    2. Another huge industry would be effected if weed were legalized. Ready, wait for it … the cotton industry. Hemp, the by product of weed manufacture, is anti-microbial and more durable than cotton. Hemp was pervasively used for clothing prior to the 20th century when it was banned. The cotton industry would be decimated if hemp were allowed to flourish. Additionally, it’s a weed so it grows easily and it doesn’t strip the soil like cotton does.

    The cotton lobby in this country is also massive.

    This isn’t about drug use, it’s about profit.

    All the best to you, Rich!

    Janet

  14. Karmic Diva says:

    Medical mj is now legal in MA and the next step is legalization. I would love nothing better than to put pot dealers out of work.

  15. To quote Cheech, or maybe it was Chong, “I love you, man!”

  16. becca3416 says:

    I don’t use the stuff because it doesn’t sit right with me. I’d rather drink alcohol for a buzz. I have also dated one too many guys that liked to do nothing but use the stuff. It always aggravated and perplexed me. You could say I am kind of anti-pot in a personal sense, but I still say just legalize it already.

  17. aFrankAngle says:

    Great post. I am (and have always been) a nonsmoker of anything, but overtime I not sure I see the hubbub about keeping it illegal.

  18. I am on the fence with this one. I do agree, however, with the correlation between cigarettes, alcohol, and MJ. I have never used it, but just like my belief on prostitution, legalizing would allow a lot of safety to be built in along with taxable income as well, here, as sales tax. Also, yes, crime would drop.
    Scott

  19. Although criminalizing it is ultimately a waste of money (and I think it should be legal for medical purposes), I still don’t think it should be legal. It’s use would become widespread, and the bad would likely outweigh the good. What good is stimulating the economy when your workforce itself is becoming less and less productive?

    Say what you will about alcohol, it doesn’t (permanently) alter brain synapses the way marijuana does, particularly frightening when you think about its effect on a developing brain. And you know if it were legal, there’d be morons who’d sit around all day smoking pot right in front of their toddlers. As long as it’s still a crime, those folks could still be prosecuted. Also, just as it’s impossible to regulate prostitution, it’s very difficult to regulate the drug trade.

    And that’s WITHOUT getting into the slippery slope argument. Oh, pot relieves your anxiety? Morphine relieves mine…

    • rich says:

      would it be any different than alcohol use? actually, it would be easier to detect when used, so i would imagine more people would abuse alcohol than marijuana. i think there would be an immediate spike in negatives, like being less productive, but then it would return to normal. my guess. love that gravatar.

      • I think the temporary impairment is roughly the same. Car accidents, etc… but marijuana use alters the brain permanently. You know teens are going to try pot anyway, but you have to worry about widespread availability and pot has far more effect on still developing brains than alcohol.

        I think most law enforcement turns a blind eye to mild usage, but people would get a lot gutsier if it were broadly available, and they’d do crazy things. When it was legal to buy opium by mail order, mothers would give it to teething babies because it made the babies feel better… It’s just impossible to legislate common sense. So, you come up with a law that 70% of the population doesn’t need in order to protect for the 30% who needs it.

        Oh, and thanks. Originally planned on being anonymous, and now that I’m using it everywhere, I’m too lazy to change it.

      • rich says:

        use it and be proud. i sure would if i looked like that.

        about pot use – i don’t think it can cause any greater permanent damage than cigarettes, can it?

      • Casual use, nah. Chronic use, definitely, because cigarettes don’t cause brain damage. (You’ll still die, but you’ll be smart, at least.) I honestly think the greatest impact would be on teenagers, unfortunately already not the brightest group out there, but you already know that.

      • rich says:

        but is there enough info to show that marijuana – in a natural form without addictive additives like cigarettes have – will cause brain damage?

      • Yeah, it permanently slows down synapses, but it takes a LOT to get to that point. I think the current system (of generally pretending it doesn’t exist) is better than legalizing it and then having to regulate it. Less complicated.

      • rich says:

        ok, then take cigarettes off the shelves too. willing? both or none?

      • I actually think we’re already leaning towards none. Here you can barely even smoke outdoors, and people have been forced to take their oral fixations elsewhere… (Meanwhile, it seems like cancer has become more inevitable than ever.) It’s actually such a nightmare to regulate drugs, that part of me would just rather keep everything illegal, just so we can turn a blind eye to it. Heaven forbid anything is contaminated with anything ever… which it will be.

      • rich says:

        ok. i’ll agree to keep marijuana off the shelves if you agree to getting rid of cigarettes. all we need now is to start our own country.

      • I’m not there yet. I could be persuaded… but only with a really good tiara.

      • rich says:

        perhaps a matching scepter? purple cape with emeralds? cushy throne?

      • rich says:

        Ok. We need a name.

      • You’re right. The right name is very important, amongst other things. I’m thinking the Richlovian Isle of Bacon. Who wouldn’t want to visit the Richlovian Isle of Bacon?

        Actually, I just wrote a post, if you want to collaborate on it? Okay if I send you an e-mail?

      • rich says:

        I would be thrilled to take part. You may fire when ready.

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