High Society

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Nov 8, 2002.

  1. By Kevin McAbee
    Source: Technician Online

    America's attitude toward marijuana is being brought to the forefront of a national discussion. A recent Time magazine cover article, voter initiatives for marijuana legalization and a possible Canadian restriction of marijuana laws have America closing in on a crossroads.
    Should we continue to criminalize a drug that many people believe is less dangerous than alcohol? Or should we legalize a drug that can be mentally addictive and many believe is a gateway to harsher substances?

    According to Time, the majority of Americans have decided: they want pot to be illegal, but not really enforced. However, both pro- and anti-pot advocates are forcing the issue upon America, with the hopes of making Americans pick a side.

    The fight over legalization was centralized in Nevada this election day, where Question 9 was placed before voters. Question 9 would have allowed citizens to possess up to three ounces of marijuana legally. However, the initiative was defeated this Tuesday by a 61 to 39 percent margin.

    This vote is a disheartening event. Keeping pot illegal is a blatantly hypocritical stance for lawmakers. A careful analysis of the situation shows that marijuana is illegal solely because of its poor reputation. Pot is demonized and disparaged because of its association with the counter culture.

    It is associated with cocaine and heroin rather than beer and cigarettes because of governmental bans. Respectable, hard working cowboys smoke Marlboros; true red-blooded Americans drink Budweiser; but only hippies and dropouts smoke pot. This is the stereotype that is portrayed by government propaganda.

    Let us analyze the facts. According to Time, pot is less addictive (9% of users become addicted) than either alcohol (15%) or cigarettes (33%). The same article showed that participants in a controlled study who smoked pot almost daily for 10 years fared significantly worse on only 2 of 40 cognitive tests. This shows that even near constant smoking does not turn your brain into mush, like the "This Is Your Brain on Drugs" ad campaign from the 1980s would want us to believe.

    Furthermore, no one can overdose on marijuana, unless the smoker lights up over 900 joints in one sitting. One can easily get alcohol poisoning and die from drinking a fifth of liquor too quickly, yet this is a readily available amount.

    So we can see that pot is far less of an overdose danger than alcohol, is 25% less addicting than cigarettes and will not turn you into a vegetable. So by what merits is pot illegal? Pot is illegal because the government does not believe we can use it responsibly. The government believes that by banning a substance, they can solve the all the problems that can result from that substance. This is an obviously flawed system. Why not simply make smoking underage, driving while high, and stealing to support your habit illegal? The answer is because the government is scared of change and the possible bad PR from this change.

    Pot opponents have a new advertisement in which a joint is traced back to a cartel that has killed a little girl's family. This is a better argument for the legalization of pot than the continued outlawing of it. When prohibition was enacted, mob violence was the norm. Everyone had to get their beer illegally, and men like Al Capone were kings. Similarly, if you eliminate the ban on pot, you eliminate the cartels.

    If we simply made marijuana legal, imagine the profits that could be reaped by America's farmers and tax system. Those who would balk at having their children's schools funded by drug money are idealistic. The money is already being spent, so why should cartels and other countries receive it solely because our government doesn't want us smoking what we already are?

    The final point that many like to use for legalization is that pot is a gateway drug. People who get high will want to keep getting better and better highs, and therefore move on to more dangerous drugs. This is ridiculous. Those who smoke responsibly will not move onto more dangerous drugs, and those who are not responsible will. It is not a matter of whether or not pot is legal.

    If nothing else, why not compromise and continue to make pot illegal, but only fine those that possess small amounts? By making it a fined offense, you lose overly harsh consequences of pot possession while keeping it illegal and not sanctioned by the government.

    This debate is too complicated to be completely addressed in my meager column. This is a debate that should rely on common sense. The only reason pot is illegal is because it has been illegal. Yes, there are drawbacks to its widespread usage. However, smoking pot is a harmless activity that infringes on no one else's rights and therefore should be legal and taxed. Let's tell our government that we are responsible enough to use this substance without them banning us from it.

    Kevin wants everyone who agrees with him to analyze the libertarian philosophy. They are the only party that understands the situation.

    E-mail: ktmcabee@unity.ncsu.edu -- to find out more.

    Source: Technician, The (NC State University)
    Author: Kevin McAbee
    Published: November 8, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 The Technician
    Website: http://technicianonline.com/
    Contact: opinion@technicianstaff.com

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