Marijuana should not be illegal
Opinion: Michael Hugman
April 01, 2005
Why is marijuana still prohibited?
Government's answer: because you shouldn't use it. You shouldn't use it because it's prohibited. It's prohibited because you shouldn't use it. You shouldn't use it because ...
Real answer: persistent myths about marijuana still remain, and they are repeated endlessly by the government, public schools and the media. These myths are preventing many Americans from realizing that there really is no good reason for prohibiting marijuana. However, they are becoming less and less effective. A 2001 Gallup poll revealed that one in three Americans already believes in ending marijuana prohibition. It is only a matter of time before the majority comes out in favor of ending it. I hope to quicken that process by rebutting some often-repeated marijuana myths in this column.
"The only reason someone would support ending marijuana prohibition is so they can legally get high." Many non-marijuana users support an end to prohibition for various reasons. Libertarians, such as myself, simply want people to have the freedom to do what they want without infringing on the rights of others. Smoking marijuana does not infringe on anyone’s rights, so you should be able to do it. Other people recognize that the cost of prohibiting marijuana far outweighs any benefits. And still others realize the hypocrisy in having legal alcohol but not having legal marijuana, when alcohol is the more dangerous drug.
"Marijuana is much more potent today, and this is a bad thing." The average THC in marijuana is slightly higher today (about 5 percent). However, this myth doesn’t even make sense as an argument for marijuana prohibition. Generally, marijuana smokers stop smoking when they have gotten satisfactorily high. So more potent marijuana means that less smoke is inhaled, which is better for the lungs. It does not mean it is more dangerous.
"Marijuana is highly addictive." In a U.S. Institute of Medicine report, less than 10 percent of marijuana users ever exhibited symptoms of dependence. By contrast, the numbers were 15 percent for alcohol users and 32 percent for cigarette smokers.
"Marijuana can significantly damage your health." No one has ever died from cannabis poisoning. This is mostly because the average adult would have to smoke roughly 900 joints in one sitting to overdose. In this respect, it is hundreds of times safer than alcohol and cigarettes.
Marijuana does not cause brain damage. Two 1977 studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed no evidence of brain damage in heavy users of marijuana.
In the long term, the most common health problem resulting from heavy marijuana use is chronic bronchitis (coughing and wheezing). Heavy use may also cause cancer, though that is not proven. Occasional marijuana use is not likely to have any significant effect on your health, but it may be risky to use if you are susceptible to panic attacks and/or psychosis.
"The damage to your health caused by marijuana justifies prohibition." Even if marijuana were as harmful a drug as warriors claim, that would not justify prohibition. We are not children anymore. I think we are quite capable of deciding for ourselves whether smoking marijuana is worth the risks.
"Ending marijuana prohibition would be detrimental to society." No, ending marijuana prohibition would be profoundly beneficial to society. We would no longer have to spend billions of dollars every year to pursue and lock up nonviolent marijuana users and sellers. Law enforcement could direct more of their efforts toward stopping real criminals. Gang violence and organized crime would go down. Assaults on our civil liberties would also be greatly reduced.
"Getting 'tough on drugs' reduces marijuana use." Harsher punishments generally do not significantly reduce marijuana use. Ten states currently treat possession of marijuana as a non-criminal offense, punishable only by a fine. A federal study comparing these states to states with harsher punishments found that "decriminalization has had virtually no effect on either marijuana use or on related attitudes about marijuana use among young people."
"Marijuana use leads to the use of harder drugs." If anything, the opposite is true. A 1993 Rand Corporation study found that states that had decriminalized marijuana experienced decreased hard drug abuse. The explanation for this is that if people can more easily get marijuana, they tend to use it as a substitute for harder drugs.
"Marijuana prohibition at the federal level is constitutional." No, it is completely unconstitutional. The federal government is not authorized by the Constitution to prohibit substances by the Tenth Amendment which states that power is reserved to the states or to the people. People understood this when alcohol was prohibited, so that required a Constitutional amendment. Constitutional prohibition of marijuana would also require a Constitutional amendment.
good article, let me add:
Claim: Marijuana users will recklessly get behind the wheel and cause accidents/fatalities.
Truth: Drivers under the influence of marihuana tend to overestimate its effects and compensat by concentrating harder and slowing down. Also, many statistics used for users under the influence that do cause an auto accident omit the fact that most users were also under the influence of alcohol.
Biased media/propaganda that is misleading such as the above is what is stopping marijuana legalization!
better living through chemistry
OVERGROW the government!!
it's not a war on drugs, it's a war on personal freedom, ok, thats what it is.