Written by Michael Morgan
Megaphone Staff Writer
Peter McWilliams, author of the book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if you Do”, discovered he had both cancer and AIDS in 1996. He also was one of the many patients that experienced extreme nausea as a side effect to the medicines. Luckily, he lived in California where medical marijuana is legal. He called marijuana the “finest anti-nausea medication known to science.” He was very much against drug prohibition and was a very effective opponent. He was articulate and formed his arguments well. Partially because he was so outspoken about his use of medical marijuana, the government put him under investigation and charged him with violating federal drug laws. They took away his medical marijuana. Not long after, he was found dead in his apartment. He had choked to death on his own vomit.
Marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the United States. Fifty-four percent of young adults report having done pot at least once. These statistics and many others show that everyone really is doing it. The current situation we have now is worse than alcohol prohibition was in the 1920s and it is my personal belief that growing, selling, owning and using marijuana should be perfectly legal. I think it would reduce drug related crimes and violence, raise awareness about the potential risks of marijuana, and help our crippled economy.
Our crime rates would drop heavily if marijuana became legal. The large majority of drug crime is gang related. If pot were legal, the trafficking and organized crime surrounding the production would end. The crime world would lose their biggest crop and the millions of dollars that Americans spend on pot would go into our own economy. Also, the budget for the “War on Drugs” is huge. The government is spending billions of dollars on trying to stop the trafficking of drugs (mainly marijuana) that could go into our debt, education or health care budgets instead. Not to mention that our prisons are full of non-violent drug offenders—people who were simply caught with drugs and never hurt anyone but themselves. We pay millions to keep these people in jail instead of helping those who do obey the law.
Many marijuana supporters argue that the government keeps pot illegal because it is too hard to tax. I disagree. They say that marijuana is different from tobacco and alcohol because it is easily grown. Tobacco goes through a difficult process and brewing/distilling alcohol is expensive. My argument is that mint leaves, oregano and parsley are all easy to grow and yet few actually do. People have shown that they would rather pay extra to not do the work. I think that if the government taxed marijuana the same way it taxes alcohol and tobacco, marijuana could become a major source of revenue for our country.
Currently there are no consistent results on the effects of marijuana. No one really seems to know how harmful it is. I hear that it is five times as bad as tobacco. Considering the fact that nobody smokes a pack of joints a day, I’d say that tobacco addicts are still worse off. Furthermore, you cannot overdose on weed alone. Alcohol poisoning is considerably more dangerous and common than any weed related deaths or injuries. Some of the best-known effects of marijuana are the positive ones. McWilliams’s and others who have found the medicinal qualities of marijuana life saving are silenced in favor of hazy ideas of the dangers of marijuana. Marijuana is a plant that can provide great aid for those with glaucoma, cancer, and extreme nausea caused by vital medicines.
The most important thing to consider in the battle over pot is the fact that we are all adults. We should have the right to choose. Argument on the basis that marijuana is harmful is ridiculous. Millions of things from junk food to alcohol to tobacco have been proven to be harmful. No one forces these things upon anyone. As responsible adults we weigh the pros and cons and make our decisions—whether or not those decisions are good for us.
Furthermore, if pot was legalized then any harm that came as a result of using it would be dealt with in a safer and healthier way. For example, if people used pot that was laced with something more dangerous then the users wouldn’t fear getting medical help and legal action could be taken against the person who laced or sold the dangerous item. If a person drove while under the influence of marijuana then the consequences could be much heavier since prison overcrowding would not be an issue and the person had misused their responsibility. Right now if someone gets sick or gets sold something dangerous there are no safe routes to take for their safety and for the safety of others.
The problem is that people are not being informed on the real risks and consequences of pot. By far, the worst consequences of smoking pot are the legal ones. One of the worst things that can happen to a pot smoker is to have it on his or her record. The anti-drug propaganda may tell us that smoking pot will screw you out of getting a good education or having a life. They don’t say that getting caught smoking pot will get you screwed out of financial aid and jobs by the government. If smoking pot is going to remain illegal (which, let’s face it is likely) then the real consequences for being caught with illegal substances should be made more known.
People need to see the harm in keeping pot illegal and need to be willing to have a discussion about it that revolves around the political, legal, and economic ramifications of it remaining illegal. We are hurting our people and our economy by not having these discussions and I personally believe that we should legalize it in order to save lives and the economy of America.
If you are interested in discussing the legalization of weed or other topics like this, SU Libertarians and SU NORML are two organizations that frequently examine these issues.