Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The use of marijuana is captured
in the scriptures of the Bible.

Fast-forward to the day of the Super Bowl, when most of us regular guys will make plans to watch the holiest of sports events with our friends and family. The first question asked when these plans are made is "You going to bring beer?" There's nothing like lowering my motor skills during the most important sports game of the year! Now rewind back to the plan-making, and replace the "beer" in the question with "pot" and you surprisingly have a very different situation. There's nothing like bringing my mind to a state of euphoria while watching the most important sports game of the year! Why is it a different situation? They're both items people use to relieve stress and to relax, only one is legal and one is not. What makes marijuana so much worse than alcohol?

First, let's brainstorm some similarities between the two. They're both taboos in American society. People who partake in either stimulant's use will be viewed in a negative light: "he's a drunk" or "he's a druggie" for example. Both hurt your reaction time and coordination. Both affect your memorization and damage your visual perception; in a nutshell, both hurt your ability to make decisions. Both should not be taken in conjunction with the operation of machinery, like a car. As for the differences, marijuana is a stimulant; alcohol is a depressant. Pot enhances creativity and imagination; alcohol leads to depression and anxiety. No one has ever died directly from marijuana use; people frequently die of alcohol poisoning, and even drink themselves into a stupor by killing brain cells.

It seems alcohol is the more potent of the two, and yet it is still legal to distribute and consume, in essence, a poison. The reason why is really quite simple: the government can't control and tax marijuana the way they can with cigarettes and alcohol. The government spends billions of dollars a year arresting peaceful marijuana users and maintaining them in a jail cell. If marijuana were legal, not only would they save money from not arresting otherwise innocent people, they could potentially make money by taxing the drug in the same fashion they do anything else.

Many people claim marijuana to be what they term as a "gateway drug" which means that marijuana use will lead to more puissant drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. The tale goes that as people use marijuana more frequently, its high will diminish, and they will seek new and more powerful highs. That could come from anything, though, even your usual sleep-aids like Ambien, which actually come with a higher risk of dependency than marijuana, which, in itself, is barely -- if at all -- addictive.

Have you ever heard of an angry pothead? Surely you've heard of an angry drunk, though, as alcohol increases violence in people as a result of being a depressant. Marijuana users are usually pacified, and at peace with everyone and everything. Fathers who get fired from their job don't come home and light up a blunt and proceed to beat their wife and kids; they come home to Jack Daniels and form a wife- and child-beating tandem.

Homicide rates are high in the 1920-1933 period, when constitutional prohibition of alcohol was in effect; the homicide rate drops quickly after 1933, when Prohibition was repealed; and the homicide rate remains low for a substantial period thereafter.

If alcohol is legal, marijuana should be legal; if marijuana is illegal, alcohol should be illegal, one or the other. Realistically, all drugs should be legal for private use and distribution. All your prescription drugs -- your Ambiens, Zolofts, and Adderalls -- can be just as potent as a drug like cocaine. You can overdose on prescription drugs the same way you can overdose on cocaine, although cocaine is much more addictive; however, that is not to say that prescription drugs are not addictive themselves -- they are.

Considering how people who are pro-choice claim that a woman should have the right to choose what she does with her body, that claim should be spread out and generalized. A person should have the right to choose what he or she does with his or her body, including the consumption of drugs. If I can choose to drink iced tea over lemonade, I should be able to choose to smoke marijuana over crack, too, regardless of its health effects. The list of drugs that should be legalized is infinite, including steroids and heroin.

If the production and distribution of drugs is taken out of dirty hands and placed in the government's, there would be a rapid decline in violence. As an example, homicide rates are high in the 1920-1933 period, when constitutional prohibition of alcohol was in effect; the homicide rate drops quickly after 1933, when Prohibition was repealed; and the homicide rate remains low for a substantial period thereafter. Gang wars would typically cease, along with domestic disputes over drugs, and police brutality would have to find another venue.

All of the negative aspects of marijuana use don't come directly from marijuana itself, it comes from the users. Some people have made extremely poor judgments while under the influence of marijuana. But, you say, "poor judgment is an effect of marijuana." True, but why don't all marijuana users make poor judgments? The public only hears of the negative aspects of drug use; you only hear of The Beatles' drug use in biographies, not in magazine essays chronicling the extreme impact the band had on America. The poor decisions of a select few should not be the basis to blanket the entire American public with an essential prohibition on drugs.

Yes, most drugs can be fatal, but that's the risk people run by using them; however, it should be no reason to prevent them from using these drugs. If they wish to put their life on the line for the high of cocaine, they should be granted the freedom to do so, just as bungee jumpers wish to put their life on the line for the high of excitement. There should be no line to draw, only a circle that labels drugs collectively as either legal or illegal. The country would be better off with the former.