by Fred C. Wilson III
June 16, 2013
“When I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point.” -President Barack Obama-
Illinois jails and prisons are filled to overflowing with people convicted for marijuana possession. 60% of all Federal inmates are incarcerated for violation of drug laws. Since 1992 approximately six million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, a greater number than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming combined. Annual marijuana arrests have more than doubled during the 1990’s. Many of the non-violent criminals doing time for drug offenses are beaten, robbed and raped by violent inmates.
Should marijuana be legalized? The general consensus towards cannabis legalization is almost a 50-50 split. According to a survey recently conducted by the Pew Research Center 52% of Americans believe the drug should be legalized; 45% are opposed. The arguments used by those who support legalization vary from person to person. Some proponents of legalization say taxes derived from marijuana sales would be a source of revenue for cash strapped state and municipal governments. Legalization would free law officers to combat more serious crimes instead of merely sending junkies to jail. Drug dealers and terrorists would lose a primary source of their revenues towards the purchase of guns. Explosives, bomb parts and other accessories used to spread mayhem and murder would be denied terrorists who make money from the nefarious drug trade. Others argue that if legalized drug addicts wouldn’t have to resort to banditry to support expensive drug habits. Still more opine that crime wars between rival drug gangs would lessen or disappear. The FDA could regulate quality and safety of marijuana products. Those incarcerated from drug busts often enter prisons relatively innocent but exit harden criminals; legalization would stop this. Many proponents argue that cannabis use is a private matter and smokers should be free from government prosecution to puff as they please.
There are over 25,000 uses for the cannabis plant aside from the recreational. Many believe that smoked in moderation marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco. My freshman high school religion teacher was fond of saying ‘it’s not the use but the abuse that make our actions good or evil.’ Its’ further argued that there are many medical uses for weed; easing the agony of terminal cancer patients among them.
Those who argue against legal reefer also have a solid case. Driving stoned can lead to a lot of unpleasant occurrences paramount among them killing/injuring innocent people when running that red light/stop sign or wrapping your car with you in it around your neighbor’s tree. I’ve seen close up the damage done when people drive intoxicated and get into terrible accidents; it isn’t pretty. Many opponents argue that reefer often leads to hard core drug abuse; think crack, heroin, cocaine, among others. Legalization would expose children to the dangers of drug use not to mention the physical damage done to hard core addicts. What about the dangers of second hand smoke to non-users? Whether you’re for or against legal reefer there is the very real possibility that if cannabis products were legalized for recreational/medicinal uses this would eventually lead to easing the ban on all controlled substances across the board as the case in some European countries. Lastly others argue that when people are incarcerated on drug charges potential hard core criminals are removed from society since drug abuse is immoral.
Pew Research Center’s findings indicated in 2012 48% of all American adults have smoked marijuana at least once during their lives including the president; among those mentioned 12% lit up last year. Of those who smoked weed in 2012 30% did so for medicinal reasons, another 23% both medical and recreational, while 47% thought it was a fun thing to do. Reader that’s a lot of people smoking dope which begs the question why was marijuana made taboo in the first place?
Some assume that marijuana became a societal ‘no-no’ via some legal maneuvering based on factual evidence that involved the medical industry, scientific community, and big government’s efforts to protect citizens from a dangerous drug. The truth paints a radically different picture. According to Drug War Rant.com in an article by Pete Guither making marijuana illegal wasn’t based on facts but on the Federal government’s bogus assumptions. The first Federal vote to nix marijuana was based solely on racism. Government sources claimed that Mexicans, African-Americans, and Mormons three groups feared and hated by mainstream Americans/lawmakers were heavy users. Then there was the fear factor and Reader we both know how that works. Another reason was Big Business (liquor and tobacco industries) the usual culprit in many if not most of all that’s bad in America, feared potential competition from cannabis users. Yellow journalists in search of subscriptions used editorial scare tactics to frighten people against the drug. And what about ignorant, incompetent, and corrupt government officials who wanted to advance their careers in crime and corruption? Finally there was good old American greed, racism and immorality the unholy trinity that will eventually do this country in if not corrected.
The known history of marijuana use goes back nearly 10,000 years. The drug has been taboo for less than 1% of that time. During the American colonial experience the plant was grown for food, incense, cloth, rope, and more. The plant’s properties were well documented as early as 17th century though its smoking properties weren’t fully realized in this country until the early 1900’s. Reader did you know that the first marijuana laws enacted in America was in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619? There’s a good chance the Pilgrims and later colonists did a little ‘midnight toking’ in between chores. During colonial times when witches were hung, Native Americans shot, Catholics stoned, and slaves worked to death the law ordered farmers to grow hemp. There were many ‘must grow’ laws enacted over the next two centuries. Reader if we lived in Virginia between 1763 and 1767 they’d put us in prison if we didn’t grow the stuff. Hemp was also legal tender and used to pay taxes. According to the 1850 US Census there were over 8,327 hemp plantations! In the antebellum south reefer rivaled king cotton!
To learn more on the subject of decriminalization of marijuana and verify things mentioned in this article search United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics, http://www.norml.org/, Marijuana arrests & prison…, www.drugwarrant.com/articles/why-is-marijuana-illegal, the LA Times-Racism and marijuana prohibition/the MORML, and www.balancedpolitics.org. Legalization is a many sided issue. Like polygamy/polyandry, racism, abortion, this death culture, Gay ‘marriage’ and other societal issues that appear to be inevitabilities; they won’t disappear until resolved; GOD bless.
-TO BE CONTINUED-