Ladies & Gentlemen of the jury in the court of Public Opinion, I would like to take a long moment to explain a viewpoint I have in order to clear any misconceptions you may get from me from any posted links, rants or associations.
The subject at hand: Marijuana legalization, and my support of such.
My manifesto here, as it has become, is my opinion based on information I’ve found after asking a lot of questions and doing some lengthy digging. I don’t want you to take my word as “gospel” so to speak, but rather use it as a footstep for your own fact-finding.
First off, you must understand that my support for the legalization of marijuana is solely limited to that. I’m supporting a legalization effort, and awareness of such. I’m not condoning any illegal use/misuse in any way, nor am I suggesting that I use/don’t use in any way because that’s not the point. What I am saying is that I believe the laws around marijuana need to be changed.
My fellow citizens, as a population of a nation, we have been LIED to. We have been made to fear something with absolutely no basis for this fear. We (all) additionally pay astronomical amounts of money each year and ruin hundreds of thousands of lives needlessly, all while blindly ignoring facts, or living without the proper knowledge as to the facts of marijuana.
The rest of the world is slowly waking up regarding the true benefits and truth behind the myths of marijuana. I stand hopeful that America can do the same.
I could write novels reiterating information I’ve read over the last year regarding marijuana from a recreational and medicinal usage standpoint, and hemp (not to be confused with something that is going to get you high) as an industrial product, but I’ll simply post a few links here and encourage you to enlighten yourself should you be interested.
General marijuana facts:
(please don’t confine your education to the popular links above, but they are good starting points)
What are my pet-peeves & what is driving me to this?
1. Federal laws & State laws directly conflict & contradict each other. Federally, marijuana is illegal. Period. End of story. It is federally classified as a Schedule I drug next to LSD, Meth, Heroin and a whole host of other nasty drugs, all of which have “no known medical uses” (which is obviously untrue for marijuana based on the government synthesizing their own version of it for medical use, but I digress to another tangent.). Interestingly enough, among less restrictive Schedule II drugs, you’ll find cocaine, morphine, opium and much more. Anyhow, back to my point… Federal laws trump State laws. At the moment I write this, 16 states + Washington DC have medical marijuana laws which allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients, and (somewhat) removes patients from prosecution for possession and use at a state level. HOWEVER, since it’s still Federally illegal, the DEA (or any other Federal agency) can, at any moment, arrest and prosecute ANYONE using, growing, selling, distributing marijuana, even in states that say it’s legal. To put this ridiculousness into perspective, imagine some guy from across town, coming over to your house, kicking down your door and grounding your kids for watching spongebob because he doesn’t think they should; yet you find it perfectly acceptable in your own home… Crazy eh?
2. Marijuana has repeatedly been classified as “less dangerous” than Alcohol and Tobacco by multiple agencies (private & govt) around the world (and when you go back to the Sched I, Sched II classifications above it’s just mind boggling). Both alcohol and tobacco are legal, readily available and widely used. From multiple sources and studies, roughly 50,000 people die annually from alcohol poisoning (we won’t go into “alcohol related” deaths, just looking at toxicity). Over 400,000 people die each year from smoking tobacco. Yet marijuana has been proven to be non-toxic. Yes, that’s right all you “drugs will kill you” educated folks, you literally CANNOT FATALLY OVERDOSE on marijuana! There has not been a single recorded death from a marijuana overdose. However, there have been multiple deaths from Marinol, which is a synthesized version of marijuana originally patented by the US Govt (and later sold) but remains the only FDA approved THC based painkiller (which is quite interesting since sched I drugs which marijuana is have “no know medical uses”).
3. Prescription painkillers currently available, used for those who have debilitating long-term pain are some of the absolute worst things you can put in your body. Many of them have ravaging long-term use side-effects which are simply not present in marijuana. More importantly, the addiction rate/probability is also astronomical in currently available prescription painkillers where studies have continually failed to prove addictive properties with marijuana. Here’s the big catch. When you start doing research on this you will see “Drug Treatment” statistics which are pretty high. However, what you don’t see is that the overwhelming majority (think high 90% rate) of those who “seek treatment” are not seeking it voluntarily and DO NOT NEED IT! They’re going because they were busted for simple possession and a court gave them the option of being “rehabilitated” or sitting in jail or a large fine. “Admit you’re a communist and we will let you go”.
4. Dollars and Sense – Not even looking at the larger “War on Drugs”, but simply focusing on Marijuana Prohibition, the US spends an estimated $10,000,000,000.00 (that’s $10 BILLION DOLLARS) annually, and incarcerates over 850,000 people annually (with this number going on the rise each year) on marijuana charges. Out of those, almost 90% are simple possession charges. If legalized, regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, the estimates are a REVENUE of +$22 billion annually while eliminating $10B in costs. Which makes more sense? Locking almost 1 million people up mostly for a simple small possession which costs about $10k each basic booking, or generating revenue? This is a clear $32 BILLION dollar difference in the nation’s economy. All while reducing over-crowded prisons, making room for violent offenders whose terms are cut short to house a kid (generally a minority) who grew a plant or had a couple of ounces of marijuana. And yes astute reader, I played the ‘race game’. Facts are facts, and the facts are that blacks and latinos are arrested and charged far more often than white people are when it comes to marijuana possession/use, while the usage percentages are about the same.
5. “Marijuana, the Gateway Drug” – This cry has been used for decades to support the continued criminalization of marijuana. Let’s apply some logic to this, just simple logic… Marijuana is the 3rd largest “recreational drug” utilized in the country, right behind the top 2, alcohol & tobacco. It has been used by around 100 million people in this country. Most of the people who read this have at one point or another tried, used, or still use marijuana. Out of those, and you, how many have moved on to harder drugs? Where are the 100 million heroin/meth/cocaine/lsd users? They simply don’t exist. There is no correlation between the two. This has been statistically proven multiple times. Further, for those reading who have tried it and think it’s a “gateway drug”, which did you try first? Marijuana or Alcohol/Cigarettes? If you want to apply the gateway theory go back to your own roots for it.
6. “Think of the Children” – Yes, let’s think of the children. Do we want to continue telling them that the world is flat?!? NO! We don’t! So we need to stop lying to them about marijuana, and start educating them about it. Further, when you start getting concerned about marijuana being available at the local dispensary, drug store, gas station, etc and worried about your kids getting their hands on it, think back to your school years, or simply ask your kids which is easier to get – Alcohol or Marijuana. The fact is, surveys continue to show that among middle and high-school aged kids, marijuana is easier for them to get than alcohol or tobacco. One can surmise that once removed from the ‘black market’, the availability to minors would be reduced significantly. Yet you’re naive to think you will ever remove availability to kids. Whether legal or not, regulated or not, kids can and will always get tobacco, alcohol and yes, marijuana and other drugs. However, when it’s at the top of the list of availability and the current policy is failing to provide any results, something should be done indeed. In general, people following the law have a reason to care who they’re selling to; people who are selling illegally don’t have such a vested interest in their clients.
Ultimately, I could go on for quite a while as to why I believe marijuana should be legalized and isn’t this “big bad demon” that ONDCP makes it out to be which, in turn we pass down through generations. However, I would rather simply encourage you to educate yourself on the matter and make your own decision. I offer up my point of view here to provide some context and perspective into my support for this cause.
Additionally, I figured I would put this out there so that you might better understand that I’m not some Harold & Kumar – Hollywood portrayed stoner who just wants to get baked; but rather consider that perhaps I may have family or friends with long-term health issues who would greatly benefit from medical marijuana. Or maybe I have people close to me who are discriminated against like they’re crack addicts for simply getting busted with a tiny amount of pot at one point or another in their lives.
If my support in this effort costs me your friendship, well, I’m sorry that we are at an impasse. If you happen to agree with me, I encourage you to get involved however you can in bringing marijuana legalization to light in your area. Even if it’s simply by reposting this manifesto to your friends and family.
With kind respect.