9/17/09

Opinions and Rants #15: Legalize It

Let me get this disclaimer out of the way first: I am not advocating marijuana use. In fact, if you smoke pot, you're probably going to get busted sooner or later and be out of a job or wind up in prison right along with the sex offenders. You might as well take that college diploma, fill it with your last bit of weed, roll it up and smoke it - 'cause it won't be worth anything once you get caught.

Whew. Now that that's out of the way, let me explain why marijuana should be legalized.

Pot was everywhere in the 1970's - you couldn't walk ten feet back then without catching a whiff. Some of my earliest memories are of people smoking weed - whether it was my hippie neighbors or the teenagers I saw out back at a wedding, it was freaking everywhere! Was there a single person between the ages of 16 and 30 during the 1970's that wasn't getting stoned? Okay, maybe one or two..... so they say.

It is rather interesting that the Baby Boomers took drugs, lots of drugs, during the 1960's and 70's with little to no legal consequence, but once they became older and settled down, the hammer came crashing down on drug use. "Just say no" was the mantra in the 1980's, whereas the hippie generation enjoyed precious little enforcement of recreational marijuana use. How effing convenient.

For those of you who are against legalizing it, I ask you to reflect on the next few points with an open mind.

1. There is no empirical proof that marijuana is addictive. It may be habit forming, but what pleasurable activity isn't habit forming? You enjoy it and therefore want to do it more frequently - to say this is addiction is a huge unfounded leap. And if you just can't let go of your belief that marijuana is addictive - well, so are cigarettes, and they were legal last time I checked.

2. Please, for the love of God, do not fall for the "marijuana is a gateway drug" fallacy. I won't argue that people that do marijuana are much more likely to do coke, heroine and meth - that's a no brainer. But to claim that this proves marijuana is a gateway drug is a hilarious.

Fact: People that are willing to break the law (i.e. buy and use marijuana) are more likely to try hard drugs than people who aren't willing to break the law and jeopardize their livelihood, reputation, and freedom.

Fact: People that know how to acquire marijuana are more likely to know how to acquire hard drugs. The relationship between between marijuana and hard drugs is clear, but to claim it acts as a "gateway" is logically fallacious.

3. Alcohol is way the hell more dangerous and incapacitating than marijuana - yet booze is totally legit. Fact: I would feel much safer on the road if I knew pot was legal, but booze was not. How many violent acts, domestic and otherwise, are attributable to alcohol? Countless. How many can be attributed to pot? I'll bet the answer is zero - it has the opposite effect by relaxing the person. In fact, it's a peacemaker: people that were fighting are often brought closer together (haven't you seen The Breakfast Club?).

4. Legalizing marijuana would be an economic blessing for the U.S.: Billions of dollars in the U.S. are flushed down the toilet every year for (1) the numerous law enforcement agencies resources, (2) court costs, and (3) incarceration. How ridiculous is it that a guy busted with a quarter bag is sharing a cell with a sex offender or murderer? One is a serious threat to society, the other just wanted to get high and harm no one.

5. Legalizing marijuana would be an economic blessing for the U.S.: Billions would be generated for the government via taxes. I'm sure the government would tax marijuana like it does tobacco, and here's the numbers for that: (A) Federal excise taxes - $7,307,440,000, (B) State and local excise taxes - $15,087,691,000 (C) State cigarette sales taxes - $4,764,730,000, (D) Tobacco settlement payments - $7,200,000,000. Not exactly small change!

6. Legalizing marijuana would be an economic blessing for private industry. I think it goes without saying that companies that produce marijuana for legal use would be rolling in the dough (pardon my pun). That's jobs in production, distribution, marketing, and retail. Where's the problem?

And please don't tell me about the health risks. With millions of people in the U.S. smoking 20+ cigarettes a day, and millions more who are morbidly obese, please don't make me laugh worrying about people smoking a couple doobies a day. Trust me, no one is going to smoke 20+ joints a day on a regular basis (unless your name happens to be Tommy Chong).

I can't help but think that marijuana had a lot to do with the great music and movies that came out of the 1970's - not to mention the freewheelin' attitude and outrageous fashions. So, Obama, if you're reading this - after you get this whole health care thing ironed out, maybe think about lettin' some folks get high?

16 comments:

  1. Excellent rant Gilligan, well said!

    You left out one other plus, the snack food industry would benefit from legalization since one of the side effects of lighting one up is the craving for the munchies!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good point jbfunky made, so true. I too have always felt that Mary Jane should be legal and treated like alcohol and to me I believe it's safer than alcohol. I do not approve and I am strongly against the use of illegal drugs such as cocaine, meth, heroin etc. I could go on and on. The Fed's though make too much money from drugs and Marijuana is one of the biggest. Think about every time they arrest and put someone behind bars. Think of all the people that benefit from the legal system. Too many would lose their jobs if Marijuana became legal. OK, I'll behave and stop here. Great post and I love your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Even me, Miss Prim here (who went off about drug use on a previous post) agrees that reefer is pretty harmless. It also helps terminally ill and cancer patients deal with the nausea of chemotherapy treatment, and can be legally prescribed for medical purposes in several states.

    Great post as usual. You inspire me to get my blog ramped up again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is such a no brainer to anyone who actually HAS a working brain and yet I sincerely doubt we will see it in our lifetime. Those few candidates courageous enough to even broach the issue for discussion are immediately relegated to also-ran fringe looney status. Sigh.

    Why don't we talk about legalizing prostitution? Like pot, it's not going away either and if legal could be regulated, made much safer for all involved and taxed to the moon. There's probably a large number of congressmen who've indulged in both vices but who wouldn't be caught dead advocating legalizing or even decriminalizing them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Actually it wasn't until well into the 1970s that the more progressive states started decriminalizing simple marijuana possession. Prior to that, possession of even a small amount could lead to amazingly draconian consequences. Black Panther Lee Otis Johnson drew a 30 year sentence for allegedly passing a single joint to a narc in 1968 in Houston. Activist John Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1969 after allegedly giving two joints to a narc--public outcry led to his release after two years. In the late 60's and early 70's marijuana prohibition was a way for the right-wing political establishment and law enforcement to target and imprison a counter-culture that could not be jailed simply for such abhorrent political views as opposing the Vietnam War or supporting civil rights. The role of cops as enforcers of incredibly unjust marijuana laws along with numerous instances of police violently attacking peace and civil rights marchers led to the police earning a new name with the (then) younger generation--pigs. It wasn't until the late seventies that the epithet began to fade from use.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Please take a moment to watch my short video on the First Public Pot Club in America. Inside Dennis Peron's Buyers Club in San Francisco 1996, at the corner of Van Ness Ave. & Market Street..inside a four story building.

    It profiles a member as she makes her way to the club, using her medicine for her MS.

    Please take mote: The third Floor is for Mexican weed, and the Fourth for Californian.

    Filmed in 1996.

    Here is link to the 10 minute film at youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk-DsZR6vq4&feature=channel_page

    and a link to my LSD DOCUMENTARY FILM:

    Features Groucho Marx's Trip on LSD, CIA LSD Brothel, Ram Dass, Tim Leary's experiments, and LSD's effect on the anti-war movement.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZdz0G4lG6k&feature=channel_page

    spread this knowledge..post on facebook for Viral Spiral.

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post. I totally agree with you. I couldn't have said it any better myself. I definitely believe pot should be legalized. There are a lot more advantages to it than disadvantages.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I found it interesting that you list several prominent "Weed" myths, then propagate several yourself.

    It reminds of my college days when the "legalize hemp" people would set up a table on the free speech quad. Their arguments were always about the wonderful benefits hemp has and how it is being suppressed by "corporate big shots" out to stifle the little guy.

    They knew every "economic" fact about hemp, but could not tell you the state most associated with potato production. Hardly 4H material.

    I told them to be honest. They don't care a hank about hemp, they want the pot.

    I agree with you on the legalization of "grass." Back in the days of Dragnet, every third show would have some "kid" yell, "as soon as we are in power weed will be legal, man." Well, those "kids" are in power and the battle is still being fought. Only today the opponents to legalization are those very same kids. It seems to be a generational issue.
    THe current argument is that today's Mary Jane isn't your father's MJ.

    But, please, don't tout the "economic" benefits of legalization. That is the same argument they use to encourage you to quit smoking.

    "Look at all the money you'll save."

    Talk to ex-smokers. They are seldom rolling in new found wealth. Something always ends up costing you more and "all that money" you saved never seems to end up in your savings account.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Because the length of my response, I had to break it up into 2 comments. Comment 1.

    Gilligan (or should I call you Woody Harrelson), although you have some valid arguments on this, especially the music and movies that came out of the 70’s, please allow me to retort your marijuana legalization post, point by point.
    First from your intro, “Pot was everywhere in the 1970’s” is indeed a correct statement. But it was everywhere in the 60’s, 80’s, 90’s and even now. Pot can be traced back to when Moses was walking around on the earth so this is nothing new here. What is new is that the THC content in marijuana (thanks to some good botanical cross-breeding) is at least 10 times what it was back in the hippie days of the 60’s and 70’s. The pot of today has a lot more punch to it not to mention that sellers can lace it with crap (LSD, PCP) that you didn’t count on being in your joint. One minute your toking on some supposed Pineapple Express, the next minute you are doing a Peter Pan off a skyscraper because you thought you could fly. This is just one of the recreational hazards that comes along with illicit drug use.
    Point #1 – marijuana and addiction
    It is true that marijuana is not addictive, but let’s define addiction. Addiction/’habit forming’ relates to physical dependence and forces withdrawal symptoms when you quit taking the drug. Just watch “Less Than Zero” with RD, Jr. upchucking semen to witness withdrawal symptoms. Marijuana is not physically dependant, but it is psychologically dependent. Why this country decided to legalize and glamorize two of the most addictive substances on the earth (nicotine and alcohol) is debatable. Maybe it has to do with human history and tradition. But now you want to throw another one in the mix?
    Point #2 – marijuana, the gateway drug
    This is where you will find the strongest disagreement. I am somewhat confused in that you state marijuana is not a gateway drug, but then refute this in the next sentence stating “I won’t argue that people that do marijuana are much more likely to do coke…”. That is by definition a gateway drug. A drug you experiment with at first, and then move on to harder drugs. I bet if you interviewed 100 heroin addicts, every single one of them would say they started with marijuana. I am not saying that all marijuana smokers are destined to be heroin addicts. What I am saying is that all heroin addicts began with marijuana. That, my friends, is a gateway drug.

    Finish my comments, go to comment 2.

    ReplyDelete
  10. And now to finish my response. Comment 2.

    Point #3 – alcohol is dangerous
    Very true, alcohol is dangerous for many reasons. But you know it will always be legal (see prohibition failure). I don’t like using a set of bad consequences (the dangers of alcohol, car accidents, addiction, etc) to justify another set of bad consequences. It is sort of like saying to your parents after they caught you smoking a joint after school, “but Johnny drinks Vodka!” Like that makes it OK now. If you think pot is a peace maker, then ecstasy should be legalized. It is way more of an empathy inducer than pot. Back in the 70’s, ecstasy was passed out by marriage counselors to create an open and understanding mood at counseling sessions.
    Point #4 – marijuana and wasted money on law enforcement
    If you think a guy busted for a quarter bag of pot would even go to trial, much less prison, think again. He would be sent to rehab and pay a fine, no prison. He would be right back in his living room that same day lighting up some more Acapulco Gold.
    Points #5 and 6 – marijuana and money
    Of course it would be an economic windfall for all involved – public and private. But let me ask you this, do you want the government running another big entitlement program. Because that is what it would turn out to be including all of the medical factors. I can see it now, a line a people around the block picking up their welfare checks with one hand and a giant bag of government grown pot with the other. No thanks on my end.
    In conclusion, let me just say if we could go back to the beginning, ban nicotine and alcohol and legalize pot because it doesn’t have the addictive properties, I say go for it. That ship has sailed however. Pot legalizers can win the argument on addictiveness, economics, ‘better than alcohol’, hell pretty much any point you want to bring up. But let me ask you this. Is this something you want your daughter doing or your mother doing? Running her down to the local drug store to pick up a bag of weed? Relaxation after a meal with a glass of brandy and a cigarette just seems a little less harmful than a family passing around a bong after Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s just me. There are a lot of good causes out there to fight for, but as for the legalization of pot, I will leave that to Woody H. and The Black Crowes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Marijuana is not a gateway drug. I remember the fallacy of this argument being demonstrated in a statistics course I took in grad school. While it is true that most heroin addicts start with marijuana, less than one percent of all marijuana users go on to become heroin addicts. The gateway drug myth is propagated by people who either don't understand statistics, or who choose to ignore facts because they have a financial incentive to propagate an anti-marijuana agenda.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The most recent polling data I can find on the subject is from Zogby, released in May of this year. They surveyed 3,937 voters and found that 52 percent favored legalization, with 37 percent against and 11 percent not sure.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Actually, isn't the fact that illicit marijuana might contain other substances are argument for legalization?

    Anyhow, me, I don't care for potheads. I haven't smoked pot for over 15 years and doubt very much I ever will again. Personally, I think it is a waste of time.

    But so what? That is what freedom is about. As long as you don't trample on the freedoms of others, its your business. I have the freedom to do something you don't like and you have the freedom to do something I don't like. Listen to Rush Limbaugh all you like (if you want to), I won't try to make it illegal. I'll make fun of you, but not try to get you arrested.

    All these arguments are besides the point. If we are really free, we can do things that might be harmful to us. If we can't, we aren't really free.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If marijuana is a "gateway drug," it's because the law groups it with other illegal drugs that have physical addictive properties.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Having spent the better part of my teen years in the 70s taking any kind of drug I could get my hands kinda qualifies me as an expert. 'Cept I don't remember much of it, I owe it to Uncle Sam's Navy for saving my life. But I tell you alcoholis a demon and I tangle with her every day. I'm staring down 50 and I got no job, no wife or kids, I just spent most of my summer homeless and now live over my sister's garage. I was lucky never got caught holding but I did enough time for my drug induced antics, heck I don't even have a lincense anymore. Please don't go and make grass legal cuz I just cant say no.

    ReplyDelete
  16. One of the problems inhibiting legalization is that people who smoke a glass pipe are not considered serious or mature. It is this stigma that scares many people who use pot to keep it a secret. It is up to us to be public about our choices and to make sure our voices are heard by the ones that ultimately decide what the rules are. Every letter you send to a representative is considered the voice of a thousand constituents that did not take the time to write.
    IMPIart.com

    ReplyDelete