Sunday, March 22, 2009

War on Drugs and Marijuana Legalization

The following comment about the legalization of Marijuana was posted on the discussion board at the website:
“It is high time that marijuana be either legalized or at the very least decriminalized. This prohibition is only empowering drug dealers to push real drugs like cocaine and heroin on our children. Marijuana has never in recorded history killed anyone. It is less addictive than caffeine, and can be grown for responsible personal use for next to nothing. All the while alcohol, and tobacco (the real gateways drugs) which kill millions a year and ruin families lives are legal? Its also ironic that the "Partnership for a drug free America", which runs all those anti marijuana commercials is actually a conglomerate of multibillion dollar pharmaceutical companies and used to include all the major alcohol/tobacco companies. Obama himself admittedly smoked Marijuana growing up and he's our next president. He probably wouldn't be though had he been caught and had a drug charge along with all his federal financial aid for college revoked. The people of the united states are ready for a change with regards to marijuana prohibition and they showed that by making it the #1 question on your community poll. In Massachusetts on Nov 4th, more people voted for marijuana decriminalization (which passed) than voted for Obama to become president. If given the opportunity i think you will see this is not a fluke.”
I agree with many of the comments made in this statement. The only one that I think may be questionable is when he states “Marijuana has never in recorded history killed anyone.” I am not sure that this statement is legitimate. I think this comment is relevant since Springfield has recently decriminalized marijuana. Although I do not smoke, I do not see anything wrong with marijuana. I have been told that I cannot really have an opinion about it until I have experienced it, but I disagree. To me, it does not seem any worse than drinking alcohol, and seems a lot safer than other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, which are also mentioned above. I am all for marijuana being legalized, with certain limitations such as: age limit, amounts in possession, and operating machinery, driving, and working under the influence.

I’d really like to know what the tax benefits we could get by legalizing it would be. We could release many people from jail and probation, and police could devote more time to cocaine and crystal methamphetamine dealers. If marijuana were legalized I’d like to tax the heck out of it. Aren’t there any studies that make creditable estimations of the economics involved with marijuana legalization? I remember I had an economics professor at Washington University (Dr. Fred Raines) who was quite active in the marijuana legalization movement, and I bet he had some models and forecasts.

I agree with your logic, that you can judge the merits of a substance without trying it. I haven’t fought in any wars, but I have read war memoirs and studied books about war, and I have reached the conclusion that war is awful, and should be avoided. I haven’t smoked, used drugs, or developed a habit of getting intoxicated with alcohol, yet I can look around me and see that in general, tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs do net harm in society, and are generally bad (alcohol and marijuana have benefits, but if I could wave a wand and make them vanish from the Earth, I’d do so without hesitation).

With drug policy we have a clash between an idea of doing noble policies that are good for public health and the actual implementation of such policies. As it turns out, when we try to execute a law that forbids the use of a popular and only mildly harmful substance (mildly harmful to many people, benign to many others, but extremely harmful to a handful of people who become hard-core addicts), we run into the trouble of enforcing something that is a bother to most people.

If we had a way of instantly issuing electronic tickets of $40 to anyone who ever drove their car more than 5 miles-per-hour over a speed limit we’d have a similar problem of people being angry and outraged at the inconvenience. There would be a decline in traffic fatalities, and that would be worth it, but the costs of inserting little computer sensors that recorded a driver’s speed and sent a radio signal to indicate when a fine was to be charged would be a burden on all the car purchasers, and there would be a thriving black market in ways of evading the system.

I think with the inclusion of marijuana in the war on drugs we’re getting a similar backlash from the users and the friends of the users. My questions is: when will the federal policy change? There has been grassroots activism for changes in marijuana laws, but this activism hasn’t generated the legal reform yet, at least not at a federal level. Is this finally about to change?

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