The State of Marijuana Tom November 4, 2009 Politics, Random This seems to be quite the topic of discussion these days and it seems like every day another step is made towards legalizing Marijuana in this country, but is it the right thing to do? Well, let me answer that question for you, absolutely. It was announced yesterday that Breckenridge Colorado voted 72% in favor of legalizing/decriminalizing marijuana in their town (read article). Now those of you that know how the law works know that this isn’t really going to hold up well, it is more of a way of bringing attention to the fact that the federal government needs to rethink the marijuana laws in this country and it’s a way to tell the town’s cops to stop wasting their time on such a minor offense. For those of you that may not be familiar with how this all works I’ll explain a little. There are 14 states in the US that have legalized marijuana for medical use, some states have more lenient rules than others, for instance it is extremely easy to obtain a medical marijuana card in California for any number of ailments ranging from nausea to cancer. Where as in other states only severe cases of cancer and other severe ailments are allowed to obtain a card to legally use marijuana to ease the pain that normal medications can not. Now that’s all well and good, but then we have this thing called the Federal Government who can override these state laws because marijuana is still illegal for all purposes, under federal law. This means that while the cops in a state that allows medical marijuana can not legally arrest you for it (if you’re abiding by the rules set forth in that states medical marijuana law), the federal government can swing in and arrest you for breaking federal law. This is why medical marijuana dispensaries in California were getting raided and shut down. However, the drug czar for this country announced not too long ago that the federal government will not use it’s resources to bust those people/clinics operating within the legalities of the law in those states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, meaning they won’t waste their time and tax payer dollars to bust the dispensaries anymore. So while this is another step towards legalization it still doesn’t make it legal under federal law and the government will still pursue those that are illegally smuggling drugs (including pot). Let’s get back to this Breckenridge vote for a second. So Breckenridge voted yesterday to legalize/decriminalize marijuana, that’s right, legalize it. This doesn’t mean that you will need a medical excuse to smoke pot, you can just smoke it if of course you abide by the laws set forth by the town. The ruling states that a person over 21 can legally have in his or her possession, up to 1 ounce of pot (starting the 1st of the year). So basically since the federal law still applies making marijuana illegal in the whole country, this law is mainly setup to tell the local law enforcement to stop wasting it’s time and tax money to bust these small time criminals that aren’t hurting anyone. And maybe this will lead to more towns/states putting up votes to legalize marijuana. Now, I touched upon all of this last time when I wrote a small article regarding Illinois looking to legalize medical marijuana, but I’m going to bring it up again. There are a lot of people out there that are very anti-marijuana and think that the legalization movement is/will make things worse off than they were before. There’s a great video online from last week from a debate in California over the general legalization of marijuana and why most of the arguments people are making against it are false. For one people are afraid that legalizing it will make it easier for kids to start smoking it thus leading to harder drugs in their future. Let’s think about that for a moment. I bet you can go ask any high school kid right now which is easier to get a hold of alcohol or weed and majority of them will tell you that weed is easier to get, and you know why? Because they don’t have to go to a store that is regulated in order to get pot, they just find their dealer and bam, pot. Alcohol on the other hand is harder to get because it is legal and regulated. If you were in high school and walked into a liquor store trying to buy booze you would be turned away, provide a fake ID and you’d be turned away… so tell me again how making weed legal will allow kids to more easily obtain it? It’s obviously going to be harder for them to obtain it from the legal sources. Obviously there will still be dealers out there that will sell to kids, but guess what, those people are out there right now so legalizing it isn’t going to make more of those people, it will probably cut back on the illegal dealers due to the fact that it won’t be as lucrative anymore to sell pot when you can go to any corner store and get the stuff. And sure you may have older people that are willing to go into a store and buy an underage person a pack of “smokes” but again, people do this right now with alcohol which is far more dangerous than pot. Which leads me into the whole “gateway drug” argument. One of the reasons why marijuana could be considered a gateway drug lies in the way people have to obtain it currently. You have to find a dealer who most of the time isn’t selling just pot, so when you start getting bored with pot you have another option waiting for you in whatever other drugs the dealer may be selling. If you were buying marijuana legally from a store the only other harder drugs you could get would be alcohol… Stores aren’t like drug dealers, they aren’t going to be stocking coke and heroin to go along with their pot. And who’s to say that pot is anymore of a gateway drug than alcohol is anyways… Anyone could make the assumption that alcohol has lead people to do harder drugs as well so it seems like a dumb argument to make. I don’t really want to get into the arguments that people have heard over and over again regarding alcohol vs. marijuana and whether it’s a gateway drug or what the long term effects are, etc, I don’t even smoke I just find it interesting in the current state of the economy that more people aren’t behind this movement to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use. If California were to start taxing marijuana their debt would be significantly reduced, multiply that across the whole country and we’d be climbing our way out of this recession. There’s always going to be arguments either way just as there are with cigarettes and booze, but why not let people make up their minds on what they want to do to their bodies. mr. legal buds The difference amidst amateur consumption and medical use of cannabis begs to be acknowledged. Even though I think that a responsible adult ought to have the right to use marijuana recreationally, I do think, without doubt, allowing an ill person use of a plant with a long history of medical value should be accepted and legal. Cannabis has a large potential as a medication and more awareness and tolerance is needed. In Summary, legalize it!