This is just going to be my stream of consciousness on the issue of pot legalization. Look, I’m not against people smoking pot if that’s what they choose to do. It’s not my place to judge anyone on their personal choices and what they do in their home. Unless you are the neighbor in our building that keeps flooding our apartment with your pot smoke. I digress. It’s the legalization and ultimately the accessibility of pot that I’m concerned with. Once we legalize pot, I truly believe this will open the flood gates. So pardon me while I sound a little condescending, but here are my thoughts on pot legalization:
I know I’m going to upset my libertarian friends, but I came across this recent study on the detrimental effects of pot. Many pot legalization supporters tout the medical benefits of weed all while ignoring the detrimental effects of long-term and frequent use. Take a look at this article for more details: Dangers of Marijuana Use
So let’s have a little conversation about pot and my thoughts about the particular subject:
1) Medicinal use is often used as a huge reason to push legalization of pot. It should be legalized so help fight disease and help those in pain. I certainly agree with the use of pot to treat symptoms and help people medicinally. In fact, 23 states and Washington D.C. agree with this as well and many states are in the process of approving. (See number 6 for the problem I have with the way “medicinal” is distributed). Let me ask you what constitutes medicinal? Is it just someone who goes in and says they have headaches or maybe some anxiety? Do you really believe that getting intoxicated is the best way to handle those problems? Here are some of the top reasons that people get their medicinal marijuana card: Bogus Reasons to get Medical Marijuana Card. Look, I’m all for the use of pot for AIDS symptoms, glaucoma and cancer, but hair loss? Give me a break. The bogus excuses used to get a marijuana card aren’t legit. Just tell us you are a pothead and want to get high. I appreciate honesty more.
There is another problem with medicinal marijuana: Legal pot is expensive and therefore many still turn to the black market. This still leads to illegal activity even in states where it is legal for medicinal or personal use. There are also reports from Denver that all out legalization is causing huge and problems for the state: Things to Do in Denver When You’re Stoned
2) Marijuana crimes are punished too harshly is often touted as a reason to legalize pot. That we are keeping people in prison too long and it’s costing us too much. Well hell, maybe we could just decriminalize every other non-violent crime and we wouldn’t have to pay for the criminal in prison. Does that really sound like a good reason for legalization? Too many good kids are incarcerated because of dealing pot is a reason we need to legalize it? This is something that I don’t disagree with for the most part. I do think pot criminal charges are way too harsh and need to be lowered. Maybe stiff fines and community service. I’m not sure a pot dealer should be shacked up with a murderer. The problem I see is that many of these dealers charged with harsh crimes tend to be those dealing in large quantities and possibly other drugs (or even dealing to minors). And yes, according to our laws, they are criminals. These dealers are looking to skirt the law, can harm individuals in the process and make a quick buck. Isn’t this the same thing white collar “Wall Street” criminals are excoriated for by hippies and Occupy Wall Street potheads? So what’s the difference? One is cool and hangs out with you on weekends and the other works 60 hours a week and dresses in a suit. Come on man, where’s your tolerance?
3) Is legalizing pot the biggest issue for our geo political and economic foes? Nope. Do you think the biggest and most pressing issue for China is legalizing pot so their young generation can become apathetic and forgetful nonproductive members of society? Yes, these are symptoms of chronic marijuana use. If you don’t believe me, then you didn’t read the first article I posted above. China and Russia are looking for all out domination over the United States…I’m sure they’re so busy they don’t have time to even think about legalizing pot. So why is pot such a big deal here in the USA? You tell me. I’d think ISIS, Terrorism, the economy, jobs, other government related issues, etc. would be more pressing. Not for many on the left or for libertarians.
I consider myself a Libertarian on certain issues, but not on this one. I struggle with the idea that I want the government out of our lives and yet am pushing for restrictions on pot and drugs. That’s where I differ from my libertarian friends. I know, pot smoking is a human right. If we say that enough, then it becomes true (see healthcare and home ownership – which inevitably caused our housing crises. I digress).
4) It’s your body, you should be able to do anything with it is an excuse I tend to hear quite a bit. If that were a true statement, then couldn’t you kill someone using your body? Couldn’t you drive drunk with your body? Couldn’t you molest a child with your body? Couldn’t you rob with your body? It always irks me to hear this excuse used by many on the left and libertarians. As though abortion and drug laws inhibit the God-given freedoms afforded to us. That the government is oppressive for enforcing these laws. I know, those examples listed above seemed harsh. How about these: You can’t tax evade with your body. You can’t steal with your body. You can’t embezzle with your body. How are those? Maybe comparable? I mean, pot dealers may be getting more money than those that are robbing, stealing or tax evading. And so what you’re telling me is that you’re ok with it? Or that if we decriminalize pot, then we won’t have criminals…so apply this to other laws. Is that really the way to tackle tough issues? Because the war on drugs is difficult and we’re losing it, we shouldn’t fight it? There were times in the Revolutionary War where we were losing and, using your logic, you think we should have given up because it wasn’t successful? Fighting drug abuse, addiction and the drag effect problems associated with drugs is a righteous battle that I still think we need to fight.
5) What do these pot dealers do when it’s legalized? I certainly don’t think that they’ll become Vice Presidents of Marketing or PR Directors at reputable firms. They want quick money…won’t they just turn to other crime? Or do you really believe they’ll just forego all the money they will be losing? I’m pretty sure they’ll do other things to get quick money. Just an opinion, but one grounded in pretty common sense.
6) How are we, as a country, pushing for the abolishment of smoking and, in the same breath, pushing for our country to smoke pot? Seems a little counterproductive and hypocritical. This leads me to my point on this: If we are using pot for medicinal purposes, shouldn’t it be in the form of a prescription pill, liquid or food? Isn’t it unhealthy for us to push smoking pot as the way to get your “medicine?” I think there’s a reason for this…people that smoke pot want to smoke it. It’s what they do multiple times a day and is what they like to do.
7) Who do you think is going to make the money? Do you really believe a bunch of small business owners are going to sprout up and jobs will be created? I’ve actually heard this from the pot legalization lobby. As though creating a nation of apathetic and high people is going to increase productivity somehow. I mean, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t tell me that pot “chills” someone out more than alcohol and then in the same breath tell me that it’s going to help the economy. I’m not even sure this dignifies more explanation. So back to the money…won’t it be corporations, that have size and scale, that will take over this market place? They tend to have better ways of distribution and production that will inevitably lead to the small guy (i.e. drug dealers) to go out of business. And come on lefties, you hate corporations so why would you want to move pot in this direction through legalization? Remember your brothers in arms that camped out for weeks in Zuccotti Park getting high and banging drums to fight the evils of corporate America and that pesky thing called Capitalism? You’re going to negate their efforts. Just as an aside, Capitalism is responsible for putting the money in your pocket that you use to buy pot. Sorry OWS peeps. It’s true.
8) The “alcohol is legal and pot is less harmful” argument also tends to throw me off. While I agree that alcohol causes a ton of problems, I’m not sure that saying “alcohol is bad and legal so why not legalize pot” is a viable argument. Hello!!! Haven’t you heard the saying that two wrongs don’t make a right? If you’re able to argue that “alcohol is terrible and legal”, then you can’t in the same argument say “so legalize pot because it’s not as bad.” Here’s the difference between the two: Alcohol has been a part of the fabric of our society since day one and before we came here. Good or bad, it’s kind of part of our culture as seen at parties, happy hour, and sporting events. You can also have a couple of drinks and not be intoxicated, but don’t you smoke pot to get high? I’m not sure you sit down at a dinner party with one joint just to be social with your friends. You’re looking to get stoned. But you can sit down at a dinner party with a glass of wine and not get drunk. I know, there are varying degrees of getting stoned, but, ultimately, I tend to hear from friends about how incredible the high was from the particular strain of pot they smoked. It leads me to this: If you think that alcohol is bad, then why the hell would you want to add another problem to our society?
9) Healthcare issues are another thing not often cited by proponents of legalization. They deny pot is a gateway drug or causes addiction despite studies that suggest otherwise. Isn’t weed a carcinogen when it’s smoked? All of these problems lead to health issues, right? You can say that “pot never hurts anyone,” but I’m sure you’d be wrong. It does and will hurt more when legalized because it will be more readily available and socially acceptable. So who is going to pay for the health issues associated with increased pot use? With our country trending more towards socialized medicine, YOU will pay for these people.
So where does this leave me and my thoughts? As I’m sure you could guess, I’m still against the legalization of marijuana, but all for legitimate medicinal uses. And not medicinal uses for someone who is anxious…here’s a novel idea: Learn to cope with your problems instead of escaping from them. I don’t want my kids growing up in a society full of apathetic stoners. I don’t want people escaping their problems. I want them to deal with their problems and to be productive members of our community. Just because we may be losing the war on drugs, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight the war. We laugh at Cheech and Chong for being stoned and for how idiotic they act. So why would we want more of this? Because it’s funny? Maybe it’s time we stop being counterculture just because it’s trendy and cool and start actually focusing on the problems that can help people.
I could throw out more cliches, but I’ll leave you with this: Keeping people off of drugs is the right thing for us to do. We shouldn’t encourage it by making pot legal. Again, just an opinion.