Marijuana Legalization Debate: A rational look

Marijuana legalization debate by Philip Bonifonte

marijuana legalization debateWith the recent pas­sage of Ini­tia­tive 502 in the State of Wash­ing­ton and the Col­orado Amend­ment 64 it might be time to take a breath, step back and take a ratio­nal look at mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion debate and a few of the lin­ger­ing stereo­types, half-truths and out­right lies that are still mak­ing the rounds among the less-knowledgeable of the population.

Ini­tia­tive 502 basi­cally makes it legal for adults over 21 to pos­sess and smoke mar­i­juana, but there are still many caveats in these bills that the pub­lic should know about. Smok­ing in pub­lic will be a civil infrac­tion; per­sonal “grows” in the home are still ille­gal, except for cer­ti­fied med­ical mar­i­juana patients. DUI pro­vi­sions are heav­ily empha­sized, with lim­its of 5 nanograms of THC per mil­li­liter of blood, but how this will apply to med­ical mar­i­juana users remains to be seen. There is also a ques­tion in this regard as to the long res­i­dency time of THC in the body – it is pos­si­ble to have these lev­els yet not be impaired.

DUI … which brings us to my first point, namely that many peo­ple that are against legal­iza­tion of any sort insist that smok­ing weed and dri­ving is just as dan­ger­ous as drunk dri­ving. While I agree that in prin­ci­ple both sub­stances will affect one’s dri­ving abil­i­ties, I would add that the actual effects of them are as dif­fer­ent as night and day. Alco­hol often gives a per­son “beer mus­cles” and brings out the aggres­sive, extro­verted side of their per­son­al­ity. When they drive they tend to speed, over­es­ti­mate their abil­i­ties and either ignore or totally miss traf­fic con­trol devices such as stop signs and traf­fic lights.

The typ­i­cal mar­i­juana smoker, on the other hand, will usu­ally be seen dri­ving 15 MPH in a 40 MPHzone. They are more likely to fall asleep at a stop sign than run it, and their gen­eral atti­tude is one of intro­ver­sion, under­es­ti­mat­ing their abil­i­ties and erring on the side of being overly-cautious.

Which would I rather deal with on the street? Can you guess? At least I stand a chance with the pot smoker – the alco­hol con­sumer, I won’t see THEM until the very last moment when it’s too late to avoid them.

BRAIN DAMAGE … oppo­nents of mar­i­juana point to research find­ings that indi­cate brain dam­age, mem­ory loss, loss of IQ and other afflic­tions as a result of smok­ing mar­i­juana. They claim these as fact, when in actu­al­ity they are noth­ing more than the results of research that really could have gone either way. The choice of sub­jects, the sci­en­tific method that is fol­lowed (or not), con­fus­ing cor­re­la­tion with cau­sa­tion – all will lead to erro­neous results and even more erro­neous con­clu­sions. While I agree that there is often some short-term mem­ory loss involved in smok­ing herb (“Where’s my hat? Oh my God I can’t find my HAT!!!”), long-term mem­ory loss, as well as the other losses cited, do not occur in the major­ity of smok­ers that exer­cise a mod­icum of restraint in their smok­ing. If you blaze through a few dozen bong-fulls of Pur­ple Haze morn­ing, noon and night of COURSE you’re going to expe­ri­ence prob­lems – that’s true of the abuse of ANY sub­stance, be it weed, aspirin or bot­tled water.

LOSS OF INTELLIGENCE … yeah, explain THATone to the hun­dreds of high-achievers such as Sir Richard Bran­son, Michael Phelps and Barack Obama that reg­u­larly par­take (par­took?) of the herb. As a result of a bat­tery of tests I had to take a few years ago for a high-security posi­tion I know that my OWN IQ has not only NOT fallen, but has actu­ally INCREASED since I started smok­ing, a span of over 35 years.

Go fig­ure.

WEED DESTROYS YOUNG MINDS … well, to that I would say that ANY sub­stance that has the poten­tial to alter one’s per­cep­tions, whether legal or not, should be avoided in one’s youth. Of course, that would kill a large por­tion of the pre­scrip­tion drug trade, because they’d lose out on all those bil­lions they make from con­trol drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro, among hun­dreds of oth­ers given like M&Ms to our kids.

That’s why the “Over 21” stip­u­la­tion on the new bills is, I believe, a won­der­ful idea.

WEED IS A GATEWAY DRUG … and here I thought we were in the 21st cen­tury! The facts are that (1) an addic­tive per­son­al­ity will advance through the ranks of their per­sonal Hell, start­ing with the most eas­ily pro­cured; alco­holics start with beer and work their way up (or down) to White Light­ning and Mad Dog. Drug abusers will start with weed sim­ply because it is the cheap­est and eas­i­est to score in the neighborhood.

But just as every drinker is not a drunk, so too every smoker is not an addict. Once again, cor­re­la­tion is NOT equal to causation.

WEED MUST BE ILLEGAL FOR A GOOD REASON … yeah, and that “good rea­son” is that start­ing back in 1930 we had such lumi­nar­ies as Harry Anslinger and William Ran­dolph Hearst who used yel­low jour­nal­ism, prej­u­dice and strong-arm tac­tics to make mar­i­juana ille­gal for the ben­e­fit of their own hid­den agen­das – Anslinger to fur­ther his posi­tion as head of the newly-formed Fed­eral Bureau of Nar­cotics, and Hearst to pro­tect his tim­ber inter­ests (hemp was a direct com­peti­tor to wood and pulp prod­ucts – a supe­rior one, in fact).

Throw in a church-funded pro­pa­ganda film such as Reefer Mad­ness and you had the masses fear­ing the wild-eyed, piano-playing Mary Jane addicts that would come and devour their chil­dren in the dark of night.

Me, I pre­fer Twinkies, but c’est la vie.

WEED IS STILL ILLEGAL FEDERALLY … I think that says more of the duplic­i­tous jug­ger­naut that is the U.S. Gov­ern­ment than any­thing else. Obama sent his Fed­eral stormtroop­ers into California’s State-legal med­ical mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries start­ing in the late months of 2011, where they smashed win­dows and dis­play cases, arrested legit­i­mate users and dis­trib­u­tors en masse and, in the process, broke Obama’s vow of “leav­ing them alone”.

Well, Obama has said the same thing again now in regard to Wash­ing­ton and Col­orado, so let’s just sit back and see, shall we?

facebook comments:

About the Author

Philip Bonifonte
Freelance writer / author / humorist / satirist "Semi-retired" from martial arts teaching career / Chinese medicine practice after 35 years. Facebook Google Plus YouTube