Marijuana prohibition is more dangerous than you think.
It’s Christmas Eve and I want some pot brownies. Problem is, my dealer got pulled over last night for speeding. The cops found his bowl in the center console. Dumbass.
Now what? Well, I’m out of pot and I got no connections. Shit. I sigh. This is going to be a long Christmas.
Weed smokers are being cited, arrested, locked up. And for what? Something that grows naturally in the earth? Marijuana prohibition needs to end. Now.
In the onslaught of the War on Drugs in the ’80s and ’90s, marijuana legalization was a pipe dream. In fact, anti-marijuana rhetoric has been the most visible drug policy issue in the U.S. since Ronald Reagan. It was only 12 years ago the United Nations held a conference calling for a drug-free world by 2008. Now, though, it’s closer than it has been since the 1970s. California—whose medical program is almost de facto legalization for many—will hold a referendum in November on whether to fully allow it.
Smokers, unite. The end of marijuana prohibition has got to be on its way. Sure, it would be a complicated transition to a legal marijuana market, but just think of the benefits: No more drug corners. No more waiting. No more getting pinched for an eighth. No more guesswork. Just good old legal weed.
Now let’s lecture you for a paragraph. Just because your drug of choice is definitely the most awesome—suck it, beer geeks—doesn’t mean you can go smoking it 24/7. You need to sleep.
It’s not a good idea to wake-and-bake every day, either. Yes, one can smoke enough marijuana to ruin your life (or, at least, lose your job and girlfriend and get fat thanks to a too many days of pot, pizza and Law & Order marathons). Even if it can’t cause an overdose, one can smoke too much weed.
Fortunately, “smoking too much weed” about the worst-case scenario for marijuana use. There’s no evidence it causes cancer, but marijuana smoke isn’t good for the lungs. Driving while high is a bad idea. Pretty much everything else marijuana is blamed for—brain damage and memory loss, crime, a gateway to more dangerous drugs, “amotivational syndrome”—has been debunked. (There’s a whole book on this: Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts.)
So, yeah, weed can make you fat if you consume half the Wawa every time you smoke. Is this something we should be fighting a war on?
Marijuana prohibition is far more dangerous than marijuana. Weed dealers can’t settle their differences through the courts. The media calls it “drug-related violence,” but in reality it’s drug prohibition-related violence. Sometimes innocents are caught in the crossfire. Far too frequently, people (or their pets) are killed by SWAT forces raiding a house where the police believe there is marijuana. It’s impossible to overdose and die on pot, but pot laws kill.
In 2008, the most recent year data is available from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, police arrested 847,864 people for marijuana law violations; 89 percent of those arrests were for simple possession. No, most of those arrested do not go to prison. UCLA public policy professor Mark Kleiman estimates there are about 30,000 people behind bars for cannabis law violations.
Some may not have sympathy for those killed in drug raids or the thousands arrested for weed. After all, they broke the law. But we have to be realistic. Cannabis is much less harmful than both our two primary legal drugs; hell, it’s much less harmful than speeding. These pointless arrests harm the lives of hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding productive citizens. They have to suffer the experience and embarrassment of an arrest and possible criminal record. Some may lose federal funding because of a simple pot arrest. And for what?
There are almost too many arguments against marijuana prohibition. It does tremendous collateral damage. It blocks people from a medicine that works wonders on certain debilitating ailments. It prevents farmers from planting industrial hemp. It festers a black market that allows marijuana to be sold in every high school in the country. It costs a ton. It doesn’t even really stop anyone from smoking pot. You’d have to be stoned out of your mind to want a system that has failed so spectacularly continue.
And then, one day, we can maybe have a second drug celebration event in this town. It’s just a dream, but who wouldn’t enjoy Philly Weed Week?
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If you really think legalizing marijuana is the answer, you’ve forgotten how good the game has been to you over the years.