Saturday, November 2, 2013

Legalize & Regulate, Don't Prosecute

Recently, I watched a half-hour police show dedicated to the “scourge” that is marijuana. Let me be as frank as possible:  arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people for pot possession is stupid. For decades, such efforts have wasted law enforcement resources that could focus on and be utilized in combating more serious crimes. Like domestic violence, rape and murder.

After 20 Years in Prison, Missouri Man Serving Life Without Parole for Marijuana Asks Governor for Clemency 

There are many myths about smoking pot, mostly perpetrated by those nauseatingly goody two-shoes who have never done it. They blindly believe what they have been told by other uninformed people or what they naively think they know from stereotypical sources. For starters, unlike with (legalized) alcohol or illegal drugs like heroin, there is no such thing as a “pot addict.” It doesn’t exist, made up to capitalize on the propaganda of fear. [See Reefer Madness] While some stoners may adhere to the mantra “wake and bake,” there is no sensation like that of a daily fix seen in typical addicts. When I was in high school, a friend’s parents sent them to rehab for their drinking and pot smoking; a month later they left rehab a graduate of heavier drugs, and still drank excessively. They no longer smoked pot though, which I guess was a win.

This leads to the second myth, which is that marijuana is a gateway drug. It isn’t. How do I know? Because I know many people, including myself, who smoked pot in their younger days; the only place it led to was a fast food joint or a grocery store’s chips and bakery aisles. Out of the handful, not a single person moved into heavier drug use because of pot smoking. Not one, and presently all…ALL…are, and have been, productive and successful in their chosen lives and careers. Even in the above example, my friend’s pot smoking isn’t what led to their heavier drug use as much as did their unnecessary, and unsuccessful, stint in rehab. As for condemning marijuana – a naturally growing plant, mind you – as an outlawed drug of choice, the only gateway it has led to are the ever increasing, and scarier, epidemics of synthetic drugs like meth. Well done.

Another reason for legalization and regulation, which may be the most rational argument, is limited government. This may seem counterintuitive, but it isn’t. While there are laws against excessive blood alcohol content and drunk driving, individuals are allowed to drink as they please on any given day – even though alcohol consumption can be directly linked to fatalities caused by the likes of drunk driving, heart disease and cirrhosis, as well as contributing to a high percentage of domestic violence, rape and murder. Only when a person’s alcohol use becomes a disruptive or criminal issue, does the government – law enforcement, legal system – step in. Counter to this, under probable cause alone, the government can intrude on an individual’s personal marijuana use no matter the amount or place of consumption – including your privately owned house, where, again, there’s a high percentage that your pot smoking will be fatal and disruptive only to the refrigerator and cupboard.

As I am not a doctor, I cannot ascribe to the benefits of smoking pot other than what has been documented by those in the profession:  patients with cancer, HIV and other diseases, unable to eat due to nausea and harsh medical treatments, regaining their much-needed appetites and those with debilitating pain able to ease their suffering. It is beyond time for the United States, as many individual states already have, to re-examine its marijuana laws on a national level; if anything else, with the constant threat of fiscal insolvency, doesn’t it make sense to generate tax dollars from a new, and potentially prosperous, stream of revenue? Or will it be too much competition for the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical lobbyists’ dollars that line the pockets of their political and corporate sponsors in D.C. and on Wall Street in order to maintain the status quo? 

©2013 Steve Sagarra

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