Before I get started I want to repeat that I have never smoked marijuana before. I have also never been drunk. I’m a sophomore in college so that should be enough for all of you to realize that I’m not some random pothead on a rant. There is a logical argument that favors the pro-legalization side when you look at the facts. You just have to take the time to read them.
I’ve already touched on the marijuana debate in one of my first posts on this website but I’d like to expand on that and reassert my position (I’m writing a short paper about this in my Macroeconomics class so I figured that I might as well update my position on my website). I’ve learned more information and there were statistics that I ignored in my first post. So let’s get to it… I’ll begin by showing you the same video as before:
How the Chief Administrator for the Drug Enforcement Committee can’t answer such straightforward questions is beyond me. What is even more appalling is how she can get away with it. As I’m sure you have picked up on, I would like to see marijuana legalized in the United States for both medical and recreational use. I have a few huge reasons for this.
1) Marijuana is relatively safe yet we still arrest almost 1 million people every year for marijuana violations.
In 2009 the police prosecuted 858,408 persons for marijuana violations, 88% of which were arrested for possessing the drug. There are two big punishments for possessing marijuana.
Possession of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. For a second conviction, the penalties increase to a 15-day mandatory minimum sentence with a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent convictions carry a 90-day mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Why are the punishments so harsh? Think about it! It just doesn’t make any sense. You can smoke cigarettes until there’s no tomorrow despite the fact that you’re slowly killing yourself; you might even harm those around you with the secondhand smoke! Additionally, nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs out there. But the government doesn’t see anything wrong with smoking (from a legal standpoint). Now, you might be saying that cigarettes don’t alter your perception of the world around you. Fair enough, cigarettes don’t give you a high. However, alcohol alters your perceptions too (not a “high” but your perception is still altered). And look what we have with alcohol! Thousands upon thousands of drunk driving accidents, completely lapsed judgment, vomiting, people dying every day from alcohol poisoning. But go ahead, have a drink. Just don’t get high. That’s dangerous.
You should also know that if you violate marijuana drug laws then you don’t receive federal funding for student loans. This impacts the youth the most, particularly minority groups and those of lower income.
2) The Black Market
I just brought up the fact that marijuana isn’t nearly as dangerous as many other legal drugs. I briefly mentioned alcohol and tobacco, but there are a plethora of others. The other side of the coin that we need to look at is the government’s efficiency when it comes to decreasing the supply of marijuana. Even though I consider outlawing marijuana to be silly, I would at least hope that the government makes a significant impact on its restriction. It is illegal, after all. If you take a look at society, though, it becomes abundantly clear that the government is extremely inefficient. Why?
Because it can’t prevent a significant number of American citizens from buying and using marijuana.
What do I mean by that? Well…
All I would need to do at college is ask a couple of people where I can buy marijuana and they’ll send me to their guy. In high school I was friends with many people from all of the different cliques. I had plenty of friends who were very frequent drug users and I knew that anyone would be able to buy drugs from somebody in my school if they really wanted to. It was so easy. I even saw the beginnings of this in middle school! As early as 7th/8th grade. That’s how inefficient the government is.
People often use the argument that the only way to defeat the criminals that run the black market is to impose stricter laws. Spend more money to prevent them from getting the substances into the U.S.! Do whatever you have to do! Has anybody ever considered a much simpler way to completely destroy the profits gained by the criminals in the black market overnight?
How can criminals make huge amounts by selling marijuana when every other gas station sells it for a cheap price decided by the free market? The government could even tax the crap out of it, much like the tax on cigarettes. The only reason the black market can thrive is because there is sufficient demand for the good. When that demand isn’t satisfied by the current legal system, people will turn to an illegal market (the number of people differs with every good… marijuana has a very high number while cocaine is relatively less). But that’s not it – the criminals are the only suppliers so they essentially have a monopoly over the good. They can raise the prices up and they will still sell enough to make a killing.
Why let a relatively safe drug be controlled by druglords? All of the violence that results, all of the money wasted, and all of the paranoia isn’t worth it. We are only creating a bigger problem.
3) We’ve seen this in history, haven’t we?
The Prohibition of Alcohol was one of the government’s most unsuccessful mandates. I don’t want to go into an extensive amount of detail, but it obviously didn’t work because it didn’t last very long at all. The situation with marijuana is slightly different because it has been illegal for quite some time and it was given the same label as all of the other drugs during the peak of the “War on Drugs”. Still, what we are experiencing now is what happens when the government attempts to control people’s lives a little too much.
Obviously many of the laws against drugs are better for society as a whole and there is sound reasoning behind them. Although it doesn’t quite satisfy some Libertarians, cocaine and heroin are two drugs that are illegal because they are actually dangerous. I have no problems with these restrictions. I have a problem when the government lumps something like marijuana into the same group as heroin and cocaine. The Chief Administrator’s testimony in the video above is a prime example of this mindset. It isn’t logical… Is it?
This is What We Must Do
We must make laws from an objective viewpoint. We cannot always rely on the government to tell us what is good and what is bad. The decisions that the government makes can sometimes stem from motives other than objectivity. Always try to approach political issues with objectivity in mind.
A predominantly subjective government is an extremely illogical and unjust government.
*** Please keep in mind that I didn’t even go into the medical benefits of marijuana. I also didn’t go into the various ways the plant can be used in production and to better the goods we already have. There is a lot to talk about. ***