Some Arguments for Legalizing Marijuana in the USA

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Sep 16, 2002.

  1. By Douglas Young
    Source: Athens Banner-Herald

    Every college should be a free marketplace of ideas where all perspectives joust. Yet to even consider legalizing marijuana is often unacceptable in academic company. But, because all public policy should be rationally debated, let's at least look at some legalization arguments.
    I wish no one used any recreational drug (and I avoid them all). But if we must outlaw everything that is potentially dangerous, then we need a federal 30 mph speed limit and a ban on fatty foods greasing the obesity epidemic and killing more than 300,000 Americans annually (CBS News).

    Somehow we survived legal marijuana until 1937. It actually helped finance our revolution, clothe the Continental Army and provide the paper for our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Washington and Jefferson grew it, and the latter risked smuggling it out of Europe. In fact, before 1870, hemp oil ranked second only to whale oil in creating light around the world. During World War II, the feds pushed hemp production to make rope for the war effort.

    Dope got banned because federal cops wanted to keep their jobs, cotton farmers wanted to end hemp competition, and whites linked pot to Mexican immigrants and black jazz musicians. Louis Armstrong never performed without it, and a later user, Beatle Paul McCartney, still calls joints ''herbal jazz cigarettes.'' Caucasians feared white girls would ''go crazy'' on dope and become intimate with minority males. So, to avert ''Reefer Madness,'' the weed was outlawed instead of the cancer sticks, liver poison and ''Mother's Little Helper'' pills preferred by the ruling class.

    Now 500,000 Americans are in jail for marijuana (ABC News), and more than 700,000 more are arrested for it each year (the FBI). In fact, an attorney on ''The O'Reilly Factor'' reveals there are presently more lifers in California prisons for pot than for murder, rape and kidnapping combined.

    So pot-smokers get locked up with and brutalized by our most violent felons. How's that for ''rehabilitation?'' Then their records deny them student loans, voting rights and many good jobs.

    Does our abuse of drug-users resemble how we used to mistreat the mentally ill? The medical evidence shows drug addicts are unwisely self-medicating a dopamine deficiency in the brain. They need treatment, not an 8-foot-by-10-foot cell.

    William F. Buckley, Jr. notes that 400,000 police can't go after violence and theft due to the endless ''War on Drugs.''

    Doesn't prohibition fuel the forbidden fruit syndrome? The 1920s alcohol ban criminalized a huge percentage of decent Americans, created organized crime in the U.S., and corrupted thousands of police and officials.

    Though none is healthy, is pot remotely as bad as alcohol or cigarettes? CBS News reported that half of U.S. hospital beds are filled by folks with alcohol-related problems. Then we have 110,000 alcohol-lubricated deaths a year. Also, the Justice Deptartment admits that alcohol was the only drug found in 36 percent of all convicted criminals and is a factor in more than 40 percent of murders.

    Cigarettes are as addictive as heroin, do far more bodily harm than any opiate, and kill 430,000 Americans a year. My hygienist says they can even cause teeth to fall out in your 30s.

    Though pot is psychologically addictive for some, no one ever overdosed, got cancer or died from marijuana. Nor do people get violent on it. Also, studies show most pot-smokers do not graduate to harder illegal drugs.

    Since decriminalization in Holland, police say pot use is down, and youths are less exposed to illegal drug dealers and worse substances. In fact, most of Europe is now doing the same and has far less drug use and crime than we do (ABC). With effective health classes and ad campaigns, U.S. tobacco and alcohol consumption are way down. Better education can lower pot use as well.

    Though many states have passed referenda liberalizing marijuana laws, the feds keep vetoing our states' rights. Ultimately, either we're for less government or we're not. Is it really state business what consenting adults do in their own home? Wouldn't our libertarian Founding Fathers be appalled at this gross encroachment on our privacy rights? Let's at least debate returning to our roots and finally standing up for freedom for a change.

    Today's Forum was written by Douglas Young, associate professor of political science and history at Gainesville College.

    Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Saturday, September 14, 2002.

    Complete Title:Young: Some Arguments for Legalizing Marijuana in the United States

    Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
    Author: Douglas Young
    Published: Saturday, September 14, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Athens Newspapers Inc.
    Contact: news@onlineathens.com
    Website: http://www.onlineathens.com/
     

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