(Re) Legalize It
OK, it’s time for my periodic plea for us to come to our senses when it comes to our never ending “War on Drugs.”
But before I begin, it is essential to state that my beliefs on this topic stem from the knowledge that the right to my life is mine and mine alone. Along with that comes the right to make choices for myself, the consequences of which I also bear full responsibility for.
The Declaration of Independence clearly states that I have inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Most, if not all, of the major religions are based on the concept that people have free will and therefore must make decisions for themselves of eternal consequence, which is a pretty heavy responsibility.
I concur with the words of one of my favorite authors:
Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least I have always so regarded it. If I do harm through my experimenting with it, it is I who suffers, not the state – Mark Twain
Back in the early 1970’s, I thought it only a matter of time before marijuana was re-legalized. A short matter of time.
A Couple of Serious Facts:
Marijuana has never been proven to be addictive.
There has never been a documented death due to marijuana use.
Could we say the same of widely accepted alcohol use, which is arguably the most dangerous drug of all?
The Social Cost
It has been said that smoking marijuana is a victimless crime.
As I understand criminal acts, there needs to be a perpetrator of the crime and a victim of the crime. This makes sense, right?
So when a person goes to jail for smoking marijuana, then the person is both the perpetrator and the victim. This does not make sense, right?
In fact it makes as much sense as the tabloid headline I once saw in a supermarket checkout line:
Siamese Twins to be Executed for Murder – One Says, “But I Didn’t Do It!”
American jails are filled, and many in them are incarcerated for non-violent drug use or possession.
It’s like sending children to live with pedophiles. They live with and make friends with murderers, rapists, muggers and robbers. They probably forfeited their personal property to the government in the process.
It’s costly to house an inmate in a jail.
And they come out with knowledge and skills they didn’t have when they went in…
As a society we pay a steep price because trading in drugs, due to demand and its illegality, is very profitable. This leads to organized crime syndicates and violence in our communities, along with police and government corruption.
The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has this to say:
We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium – while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.
History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.
We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.
This comes from an organization of individuals involved in law enforcement…
I suggest you read it again. And maybe once more.
The Economic Cost
These are tough economic times. Our government has run up debt that our children and grandchildren will not be able to pay back. Some gift to our kids. Cutting expenses and adding income should be of paramount concern. We could achieve significant budget cuts to law enforcement agencies, the courts and the prison system, not to mention increased tax revenues from users and sellers if marijuana were re-legalized.
What About the Trees and Our Environment?
It has been widely speculated that marijuana became illegal at the behest of big business. This is not the result of capitalism; it is the result of corporatism where business connives with government for control of a market segment. I maintain that the American government is the best government…that money can buy.
Jeffrey Blum, an associate professor of law, in response to a request from a federal judge, contends that a significant reason for making marijuana illegal was to protect the interests of the paper and synthetic fiber industries from competition with hemp producers.
It has been calculated that hemp can produce, acre for acre, four times as much paper pulp as trees.
Bye-Bye Trees, Bye-Bye Rain Forests…
Hemp has many uses according to Hemp USA:
Hemp can be used to produce a very large variety of products from clothing to paper to building supplies to cars to fuels to food products to much, much more. Some people have called hemp the plant of 30,000 uses because it combines the utility of the soybean, the cotton plant and the Douglas Fir tree into one green package. Hemp is an environmental, renewable, reusable and recyclable resource.
Notable People Are More Openly in Favor of Re-legalization
While it goes without saying that many in movies, music and the arts, such as Tommy Chong, are publicly calling for the end of pot prohibition, there are a growing number of people, such as television host and activist Bill Maher, former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, mega-businessman Richard Branson, author Stephen King, and congressman Ron Paul, who have joined the ranks.
Eve Conant writes:
Certainly, the Republican Party is a long way from becoming the Pot Party. Although a handful of conservative thinkers like Milton Friedman, George Shultz, and William F. Buckley have argued the merits of legalization over the years (Buckley even mocked those who called marijuana a gateway to addiction, saying it was “on the order of saying that every rapist began by masturbating”), most Republicans still oppose the idea.
These are influential people even if most Republicans still oppose it. And to be fair, how many Democrats are openly calling for re-legalization? Only the growing Libertarian Party openly supports re-legalization.
Pundits like Fox News’s Glenn Beck and former judge Andrew Napolitano have also joined in the debate, on the pro-legalization side. “You know what, I think it’s about time we legalize marijuana. Hear me out for a second…” Beck told viewers in April. “We have to make a choice in this country. We have to either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars, or we legalize it. But this little game we’re playing in the middle is not helping us, is not helping Mexico, and is causing massive violence on our southern border.”
I can’t say I am a fan of Mr. Beck, but he has that right.
We each have a right to what we put into our bodies – will you continue to be told what you can and cannot do with your body?
You can bet that the mob and the cartels don’t want to see marijuana re-legalized – will you continue to support them?
Allowing hemp to be grown is much better for the planet than cutting down trees – will you continue to support environmental destruction?
American drug policies defy every sensibility when you look at the big picture. They cause so much harm in so many aspects that I think future generations will be puzzled by our point of view.
Let’s change this. Let’s grow-up. It may not be a great leap forward, but a leap forward nonetheless.
References and Reading: