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Monday, March 8, 2010

THE CASE FOR LEGALIZING POT AND WHY IT MAKES SENSE TO DO IT NOW

I’ve never been a big fan of illegal drugs, let me say that up front right now. I hate to even take aspirin for a headache. However, after some careful reading on the subject, aided and abetted by some of my older pot-head friends, I am changing my mind about just why legalizing pot is an idea whose time has come. There are a lot of very good reasons - moral, ethical and economical - why this should be done now and as soon as possible.

Currently, the Controlled Substances Act does not recognize the difference between medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. For a surprisingly large number of Americans, though, marijuana is just like any other prescription; it’s a way to escape from chronic pain. And, given the stupidity of the FedGov law as it is currently written regarding sale and possession of pot, even patients who obtain marijuana legally in their state can face federal prosecution.

Cannabis has been used to treat HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer, chronic pain, arthritis and pains associated with aging. Something else that pot helps with is asthma prevention, and it also eases glaucoma. Especially for older Americans, cannabis can be the best prescription for their pain. Something else that people overlook with pretty appalling regularity is that being in chronic pain also robs a person of not only the will to eat, but also the will to live. “Marijuana munchies” is not just a figure of speech; using marijuana to help control chronic pain also helps to ease the truly horrific estivation that comes with being a victim of the diseases mentioned above. Using pot makes you hungry. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you eat regularly, you tend to live longer. That’s one of the best side effects that I personally can think of for a non-addictive drug. SO, you’re zoned out for a while. A person using narcotic painkillers is just as zoned, and the narcotics kill appetite.

In a study conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, doctors found that nicotine was far more serious than marijuana on many levels. So, if marijuana were objectively and fairly compared with the effects and side effects of many other prescription drugs, it would become clear just how beneficial of a substance it is. Other countries are recognizing the benefits of medicinal cannabis as well. Canada, Chile and the Netherlands have decriminalized or legalized medical marijuana, and countries such as Australia and Belgium are conducting trials on the benefits of medical marijuana. It's time for the United States to shed its stereotypical view of marijuana and recognize the many medicinal benefits.

Morally speaking, using pot is a LOT less bad for the person using it than smoking cigarettes. It’s a LOT better than drinking. Ethically speaking, anything that relieves pain and suffering without making the person taking the drugs worse in a good many ways is good. Then, too, there are the economic benefits.

I can just hear the squawking now. ECONOMIC BENEFITS?

Yuppers, gangers, ECONOMIC BENEFITS. Let me repeat that: MONEY. Lots of money.

The late, great Milton Friedman, the Nobel Laureate, former Reagan advisor, and esteemed scholar associated with the very conservative Hoover Institution, was among hundreds of important economists who argue that pot should be legalized and taxed, and that the income from such taxation could generate billions in new revenues and billions more in enforcement savings. If you live in California, what would you rather have? Pot smokers whose cases are tying up the legal system? Or better health care and roads thanks to a marijuana tax? The economic case for legalizing marijuana is as compelling as it has ever been and, in a time of great changes in the interaction between government and the governed, it would not be the worst thing in the world to have a serious national debate on the topic.

Currently over 100 million Americans have used or have admitted using pot. Thinking people do their own research, and, many times, have concluded that the laws against marijuana are arbitrary. It has been proven that legalizing will cost taxpayers far less than we have to pay currently in order to keep marijuana illegal. In fact, Portugal legalized marijuana in 2001 and it has since proven effective, in that crime rates and drug use among youth have significantly decreased. In fact, most who supported legalization were middle-aged citizens, rather than young adults.

So, who’s really holding up the legalization of pot? Aside, that is, from the FedGov and the National Drug Czar, that is?

Well, for one thing, cigarette companies and Big Pharma; my guess is that they’d be the ones most concerned. Big Pharma does NOT want people to have access to benign naturally occurring substances that provide much the same relief, without side-effects or breaking the bank that their reconstituted synthetics might provide. Think about it: sell a carton of 200 joints for $50.00, and throw out the narcotics. Might cost the drug companies a bit, wouldn’t you think? The FDA has recently claimed that there are no medical benefits to marijuana use. However, at the same time, the FDA has approved synthetic versions of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient in marijuana, for use in high-priced prescription drugs. Surprisingly, the FDA also lists marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin & PCP. If nothing else, this would convince me that the so-called experts are either stupid, blind, or, in all probability, so deep in Big Pharma’s hineys that the agency heads are actually eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out of Big Pharma’s stomach.

Why bother with a cheaper, more cost-effective REAL substance when you can make a synthetic for 5 times the price? Where’s the benefit to the general public in *THAT*?

Also, let’s not forget that the tobacco industry won’t just step aside to let a brand new business take over the market. Should marijuana become legal, who do you think will first start the mass manufacturing? My guess of Marlboro is a good one. Camel is a decent choice, too. Only problem that I can see with this is that all cigarettes have additives, including an extra jolt of nicotine to keep you puffing. What’s to stop the tobacco companies from doing the same thing with a commercially marketed joint?

“Stoned” Joe Camel, anybody?

And then, of course, there’s the FedGov’s interest in keeping the War on Drugs going. The only violence associated with pot is the extreme violence used by Mexican drug traffickers to get it into this country. Legalize pot, and one of their most lucrative markets is gone. The DEA and other agencies have grown fat over the last 30 years fighting their phony “war on drugs.” Trillions in tax payer dollars have been doled out to agencies to wage their war. The so-called “war on drugs” has become a massive government funded industry that jealously guards its funding. Any talk of legalizing pot sends the bureaucracies into an uproar as they foresee dramatic funding cuts, and fewer thermal gizmos that detect leafy green plants in someone’s backyard. We can start by playing the war on drugs game a lot smarter. We can stop the stupid, hysterical silliness and legalize pot. Then, and only then, MAYBE the DEA can focus its attention on real drugs like meth, cocaine, crack, heroine, ecstasy, and the growing prescription drug problem.

Marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and fall under the same rules as alcohol. That means 21 and up to buy it. Those under 21 found with it should be ticketed as they are for alcohol. Those found to be driving under the influence of marijuana should be given DUI’s as they would have been had they been drinking.

The horrific violence of Mexican cartels, which make perhaps as much as 75 percent of their money from marijuana (in Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard’s estimation), the budget meltdown in California, overcrowded prisons and overstretched law enforcement, all of these should be factored into legalization. In April of 2008, Representative Barney Franks co-sponsored, with Ron Paul, the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008, which would have lifted federal penalties for possessing 3.5 ounces or less. That bill never made it to committee. However, Frank and Paul introduced another bill that did reach the committee stage: the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, which would end the ban on cultivation of non-psychoactive hemp. “I think people have gotten more skeptical of government intervention,” Frank said. “And I think people have seen the ineffectiveness of the all-out-war approach to all this.”

“Change we can believe in – and it all starts with just a TINY bit of common sense.

1 comment:

  1. Many of the points of this blog have been stated and known for many years. The sad fact is that the money involved in keeping it illegal is so easy for the group that demonized pot. Mexican laborers and Black jazz musicians were the stereotypes that were used to demonize pot. It was right after prohibition began that pot flourished and became the "replacement for alcohol". I can see how that would scare any prohibitionist. Pot became illegal in 1937 with the passing of the cannabis tax act. The point is you can grow and have pot but you have to have a licence issued by the government and they weren't going to issue any so it was illegal for everyone.

    Here is my beef with all of this. Yes it should be legalized and yes we should all be able to consume pot whenever we would like, however then no one would be able to grow at home. It would all be from a store like beer and whiskey. As an old hippie I always thought it should be free to consume and not taxed. Today the only way any one that could make it legal would make it legal is by taxing the snot out of it, like pot was the answer to the national deficit, it is not. It would not even generate that kind of cash. If the nation could realize a few billion dollars in tax money that is more than enough. The savings come in when the war on drugs is over and ALL recreational drugs are legalized. Then and only then would the cartels in Mexico would no longer have a market up here. The pot farms would put people to work and better yet cannabis would be grown for the hemp seed oil and other natural products.

    In this world we will always have our "junkies" that will always want to do nothing but be high on drugs, but the others that hold down jobs and work and consume drugs without any issues. Its not the place of Nancy Rayguns and or any other politician to tell us how we should live our lives.

    As for the medical benefits of pot they were pretty much divulged in the article and most of us that have consumed pot as youngsters know what things pot is good for. One medical benefit not mentioned was stopping nausea. I suffer from extreme stomach issues and have lots of nausea and have to deal with it all the time. I have prescription for medical pot. I find that even if I have to vomit or have excruciating cramps or pain in my gut pot will settle it down and allow me to either sleep or stop it all together.

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