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    The Case For The Leagalization Of Cannabis

    180px-HerbalThis is a very interesting topic that was brought to front of mind due to a recent Fortune magazine article on it.  Actually, it made the front cover.  I think that the article was very well written and, furthermore, I thought I should chime in.

    I think the case for legalization of cannabis is crystal clear for very simple reasons.  And if someone can refute my points below in any reasonable manner, then I may reconsider.

    First I will hit on the two most obvious points for the legalization of cannabis:

    • Cannabis, in any form – smoking to brownies, is not as addictive as cigarettes and cigarettes are legal.
    • Cannabis, in any form – alters your mind  to no greater extent than alcohol does and alcohol is legal.

    So beyond the issue of individual rights (or the ties to racial and ethnic fears that led to the criminalization), which is a whole different topic, cannabis should be legal for no other reason than that we currently allow other drugs that are both more addictive, more mind-altering, and worse for you with the only requirement to getting them being your age.  How does this make sense?

    It seems to me that if one wants cannabis to be illegal they would also have to be against both alcohol and tobacco.  How could they be for either of those drugs and against cannabis and not be a complete hypocrite?  But let us not stop there, and explore a bit more.

    Then there are other arguments, such as the violence surrounding cannabis.  Somehow these people must be forgetting the prohibition era in the early 1900’s where cannabis wasn’t the problem but alcohol.  The very drug that gave LOTS of money to mobsters and gangs and was the cause of countless acts of violence.  So I must ask again, how is the prohibition of cannabis different than the one against alcohol?  Why are we trying the same thing (prohibition) and expecting different results?  I just don’t get it.

    Okay, so that’s not the reason, but there must be one.  How about the fact that it is a ‘gateway drug’ to other drugs.  Interesting idea but it fails for the same reason as the other arguments, a double standard.  Just because alcohol and tobacco are not illegal does not make them any less of a drug.  So then, if cannabis is a gateway drug, what does that make tobacco and alcohol?  Anybody using harder drugs probably is using those two drugs at least as much as cannabis (but probably a lot more) and arguably at an earlier age too.

    And as if we needed any additional icing on the cakes, there is the health aspect.  No, I’m not even talking about the medical uses that our government knows about (and actually dispenses cannabis to people – yes the US gov has a program that dispenses medical cannabis).  Beyond that blatant hypocrisy (as if we needed another example) one can just look at four additional facts:

    1. In 1988 Judge Francis Young stated: “Marijuana…is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man” when ruling on a marijuana case.  It is basically impossible to overdose on cannabis, unlike alcohol that kills binge drinkers and alcoholics every year.
    2. Many studies (according to Fortune) also say that smoking cannabis (which there are many other ways to consume than smoking) is less detrimental to health than smoking tobacco – no hard proof that it causes lung cancer exists yet.
    3. Marinol, a synthetic version of the active psychoactive agent of cannabis, was approved by the FDA in 1986, further verifying that it has legitimate medical uses.
    4. When marijuana was criminalized in 1937 it was done “over the objection of the American Medical Association“.

    As one final point (last one I promise) the money aspect comes up.  From Fortune 9/28 p. 148:

    Assuming a national consumer market for marijuana of about $13 billion annually, Harvard economist Jeffery Miron has estimated that legalization could be expected to bring in state and federal governments about $7 billion annually in additional tax revenue, while saving them $13.5 billion in prohibition related law enforcement costs.

    That’s an estimated $20.5 BILLION in additional money for any number of activities, including law enforcement on the very gangs that that money would have been going to.

    Knowing all of this, does anyone have any ideas why it should be illegal?   I’m just plain baffled.

    This has been a Thought From the Cake Scraps.

    5 responses to “The Case For The Leagalization Of Cannabis”

    1. Sage020 says:

      Interesting post. Although I am all for legalization there are several factors that may be considered against legalization.

      One big factor is that there is no concrete way to know when someone is under the influence of marijuana, this can become an issue if people are operating motor vehicles or going to work under the influence, unlike alcohol where a simple test can be administered to know exactly how much alcohol is in ones system.

      Great job on a very informative and accurate blog on the pros of legalization.

    2. @Sage020 That is a great point. Clearly this would have to be addressed because, just as with alcohol, there is a danger if your ability to operate the vehicle is impaired. While I don’t have an easy and quick answer, I wonder if a method for detection would be found if legalization was imminent. It is probably not a common enough problem right now to warrant the effort or cost to find a solution.

      Ideally people would not drive while intoxicated on any drug, but I wonder if there would be a substantial rise in DUI’s w/ legalization or just a shift in intoxicant involved.

    3. ghamilton says:

      As someone who has experience with both alcohol and marijuana just going on anecdotal evidence the amount of stupid shit I’ve done while under the influence of alcohol greatly trumps anything I ever did while under the influence of marijuana. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve been around marijuana but I still hold the position that it’s absolutely ridiculous that it’s illegal, in fact it actually angers me.

      I foresee the end to prohibition soon though. With so many states facing budget crises the amount of money that can be brought in by taxing what was previously illegal and the fewer people in our prisons will make it an attractive option. Even Obama has provided a glimmer of hope by directing the federal government not to go after medical marijuana distribution centers in states that it’s legal.

      @Sage020 You bring up an excellent point. Typically you can tell if someone is drinking and a breath test/blood test would confirm to the extent they’ve been drinking. With marijuana you can usually tell that the person is high, but test their urine or their hair and you could claim that you’d smoked marijuana the day before. Driving under the influence would be a problem, but if that’s the one hurdle in getting it legal then let’s get on developing a better test!

      Thanks for the wonderful post, and I can’t believe that @Sage020 dropped by and gave his insightful comment.

    4. ghamilton says:

      I forgot to mention in my previous post that you might enjoy the film The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1039647/). It’s a pretty interesting trip towards Canada’s marijuana industry that has a lot of the history of why marijuana is illegal in the United States.

    5. The difference amongst recreational consumption and medical employment of marijuana begs to be acknowledged. While I think that a responsible adult ought to have the right to use marijuana recreationally, I do believe, without doubt, allowing a sick person use of a plant with a long history of medical value had better be accepted and legal. Marijuana has a large potential as a medication and more awareness and acceptance is called for. In Summary, legalize it!

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