It is time to legalize marijuana

This is coming from a guy who smoked pot during junior high and high school. Who went to school so stoned in THE MORNING that he sat at chuckled his way through an Algebra exam and scored a 12 (out of a possible 100). While his old school football coach sat at the front of the room. I quit over 30 years ago, and my life is better for it. I likely would never have made it through college and law school if I hadn’t. But keeping it illegal didn’t stop me from trying it. Or make me stop. In my opinion: Should kids smoke it? No. Should anybody? No. But all we are doing is making criminals out of people who do smoke it. And out of the people who supply it. 

I’ve grown pot–it’s easy. Anyone with any intelligence can grow enough for their own use for the entire year, with enough left over to sell and make a good living at it. Because the Government has so run up the cost of doing so, and of purchasing good weed. All we are doing is making it more expensive. Which also makes the crooks work harder to supply it. 

The problem is, too many people don’t know about marijuana. It is bad for you. It stifles your desires to succeed (at least it did mine). After getting high, all I wanted to do was sit around gazing at my navel (outty, thank you). 

I remember many stories from my grandfather, a saint if there ever was one, who proudly told me of producing his own dandelion wine and home made beer, and attending numerous speak-easys, during Prohibition. All Prohibition did was make criminals out of people who enjoyed a glass of wine or a beer occasionally. And it produced Organized Crime, and Al Capone, and strengthened the Mafia. And that is what pot is doing now.

We put people in jail, for long periods of time, just for smoking a weed. Or for producing or supplying it. This has got to stop. And it will  never stop so long as the majority of the population opposes legalizing it. Politicians are too cowardly to actually do what is in the best interest of the country. They need us to prod them along. So no matter how vehemently you oppose pot smoking (and I do), you should still support the legalization of it. Or at least the decriminalization of it.

The following is excerpted from an excellent column, by a conservative writer, which advocates a common sense, go slow approach to decriminalizing the use of marijuana:

….”World Health Organization researchers found that 42.4 percent of Americans had tried marijuana — the highest ratio of any of 17 countries surveyed. New Zealand, which has tough drug policies, scored a close second place at 41.9 percent. Dutch residents can buy cannabis at coffee shops, yet less than 20 percent of Dutch respondents said they had tried cannabis. Researchers concluded, “Drug use does not appear to be related to drug policy, as countries with more stringent policies (e.g., the United States) did not have lower levels of illegal drug use than countries with more liberal policies (e.g. The Netherlands.).”

“Meanwhile, drug prohibition does work, Van Wickler added, as “a wonderful opportunity for organized crime.” LEAP also released a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron, who figured that legalizing drugs could save federal, state and local governments in the United States about $44 billion per year, while taxing drugs could yield $32.7 billion annually. OK, but money is the least persuasive element in LEAP’s approach. After all, the federal government could sell citizenship, set up a taxable market for selling organs or legalize prostitution to save and raise money — while turning Main Street into a hellhole.”

Whereas removing the criminal profit motive from the drug trade arguably could make America a safer, better country — if Washington and state governments went further than decriminalizing drugs, by legalizing and regulating them, and putting drug rings out of business.

Some pro-legalization advocates argue that legalizing drugs will decrease use. I don’t buy that. More likely legalizing drugs will increase usage, and that means that some teens will get sucked into a self-destructive vortex. Only a stoned person would see that as good. But it is not as if the system is without cost — and not just the $44 billion governments spend. The black market fuels criminal gangs and crowns dangerous drug kingpins.

Eric Sterling, who founded the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in part to atone for his role in helping Congress draft draconian federal drug laws in the 1980s, noted that the goal of those federal drug enforcers was “to raise the price of drugs and drive down the purity.” The problem with that approach is that “higher prices mean that more people will enter the business.” Meanwhile, marijuana today is far more potent than it was when Sterling worked for the House on drug policy.

The other downside of the system: When authorities arrest and jail low-level offenders, they are branding lowlifes with erasable criminal records.

“I asked LEAP leaders if, instead of pushing for an end to the prohibition of all illegal drugs, it would make more sense to push for incremental changes — say, legalizing marijuana, then waiting to see if the sky falls. Or doesn’t. Sterling agreed that a more incremental approach seems reasonable and more likely politically: “In my own vision, it’s harder to conceive of a regulatory system for cocaine and methamphetamine than it is for the others.”

“But if people think President-elect Barack Obama will try to end the war on drugs tout de suite , guess again. Sterling does not expect Obama to make “the political mistake Bill Clinton made with gays in the military” by pushing for change before the public demands change. Only when business groups, labor unions and others denounce the drug war as costly and feckless, and demand an end to laws that empower drug cartels, will Washington pols even consider withdrawing in the war on drugs. It is only when “those very powerful political actors speak up on this issue, then we’ll see the change. And it’s going to be bipartisan change.”

“Because there is no way to know for sure what will happen if Washington turns on the war on drugs, a go-slow approach makes sense. That said, I don’t know many Americans who think that prohibition of alcohol worked — except for organized crime.” [Emphasis added by JD]

And here are some useful cites to check it out yourself.

This lists the dangers of pot smoking (if you are thinking about it, don’t do it. It messes up your, ugh, ummm, I forgot what I was gonna–OH MAn, wow! Now I remember, your memory. Memory? What was I talking about?)

Here is more from that same web site:

Fact: Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States.

Fact: 42.3 percent of 12th-graders have tried marijuana at least once.

Fact: Marijuana smoking affects the brain and leads to impaired short-term memory, perception, judgment, and motor skills.

And here again from the same site is help for parents to know if their kids are using pot:

I AM NOT ADVOCATING THE USE OF POT. I’m just advocating not making it illegal. Having used copious amounts of both alcohol and pot, I can honestly say that pot is probably somewhat worse in some ways, but better in others than alcohol. Both will kill you or others if abused, or used long term. But so what? We can’t hold everybody’s hand and tell them what to do. They are ALREADY doing it. Try to discourage it. And make it legal.

6 responses to “It is time to legalize marijuana

  1. I know, this sounds like I am crazy if you compare it to the article yesterday about Amsterdam. I’m vehemently against prostitution, for a totally different set of reasons, which don’t apply to pot smoking.

  2. I have only smoked about 4 times in my life, and NEVER made it more than 2 minutes before I was asleep. Most drugs out there need to be taken control of by the government, that way they can TAX it just like they do to cigs and alcohol. More taxes from “pleasure” beats the hell out of taxing me just to tax me…which is what is coming down the “pipe” after Obama takes the reigns of this freight train.

  3. Pingback: It is time to legalize marijuana

  4. Thoughtful post John, thank you.
    Interesting that decriminalizing pot could result in a 76.7 billion dollar plus for government at all levels, which would in turn be a benefit for taxpayers at all levels. Do you think it a safe conclusion that by not being illegal, the price would also decline and therefore more than offset the resultant tax on the product?

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