Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy 4/20!

Happy 4/20, everybody! Confused? Allow me to explain: 4/20 is a term that refers to the consumption of Cannabis, and April 20 (yep, 4/20) is a nationwide celebration in which pot smokers unite in celebration of all that is green.

Because today is a bit like the pot smoker's Christmas, I thought it might be a good time to address something that would benefit us all in this country, something that we, as a Nation, keep sweeping under the rug, and putting on the back burner, hoping it's the next guy who has to deal with the mess we left behind: Marijuana legalization.

In 2000, there were 734,498 people arrested for marijuana violations in this country alone! Of those 734,498 arrests made, 646,042 (88%) were for simple possession. The remaining 88,456 (12%) of those arrests were for the sale or manufacture of marijuana. All tolled, the number of marijuana related arrests in 2000 surpassed the number of combined arrests made for violent crimes, like rape, aggravated assault, murder, robbery, and manslaughter. (http://legalizationofmarijuana.com/)

So, we should feel good, right? Murderers, rapists, and other violent offenders are roaming the streets, but, don't worry! We got all the pot smokers rounded up and off the streets!

If it were any other country besides this one, I'd assume such nonsense was a practical joke. But, it's not. We seem to enjoy putting each other behind bars, which, for violent offenders, is wonderful, thank you. But, for Marijuana users? The sad truth is, we're incarcerating these non-violent, pot smokers, and releasing them as angry, violent ex-cons who don't have a great shot at getting a good job, or, bettering themselves in anyway. In a 1997 report, the Department of Corrections found that one-fourth of prisoners arrested for a non-violent crime, and were released pending completion of their sentence, were later re-arrested for a more violent crime.

We all know that many drug related arrests are of younger men and women in this country, so, in effect, we are taking the young men and women, the future of our country, and making them a kind of offender they weren't -- and probably wouldn't have been -- prior to their arrest for something we all know we did when we were younger! Would you like to be suffering the consequences of what you did back when you were 18? 20? 22? No, none of us would.

You may remember, awhile back, we passed a Health Care Reform bill in this country. You may not remember that, specifically, so much as you recall the the griping the Republicans have done ever since. There's no money, they say, what about money, remember those bank bailouts, money, money, blah, blah. Turns out, there is something that may be as infuriating, and non-sensical as throwing young men and women in jail for non-violent offenses and ruining their lives -- the MONEY we could be saving, and collecting as revenue, if we were to introduce a system of taxation and regulation for marijuana, like we have with alcohol, and tobacco in this country.

In his 2005 paper, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, Dr. Jeffrey Miron, a visiting professor of economics at Harvard University, finds that “Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation similar to that used for alcoholic beverages would produce combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion per year.” Wow. There would, of course, be the revenue from taxation, but, we would also be saving money if we legalized marijuana, because we wouldn't be spending billions to run television ads, newspaper ads, or printing up pamphlets for school kids about the evils of marijuana.

That's how we're going to do it, Republican Party...that's how. Health care is taken care of by our old friend Marijuana.

I can practically hear the nay-sayers, already. They'll say that Marijuana is a gateway drug. They'll say Marijuana itself is addictive, and makes you go nuts, like, in that movie Reefer Madness! They'll say legalizing Marijuana puts us all at danger, and that we should keep marijuana illegal so that the drug addicts don't harm average, every day Americans. I think the Republican party, if nothing else, has taught us that fear breeds animosity, and distrust, as is evident in the above arguments against my position on Marijuana legalization.

If these people who are so against legalizing Marijuana would just turn down Rush for a moment they might have a chance to see how irrational, and silly their arguments are. If we legalize Marijuana and make it available at the store, like a pack of cigarettes, I am quite confident that your son, daughter, etc. will not move to anything harder. How? Simple -- you don't try cocaine because you smoked pot and wondered if they were at all similar, you try cocaine because the shady drug dealer on the corner who sells you pot wants to know if you want to buy some of the cocaine he is also selling! Do you really think convenience store clerks are gonna say, "yeah, here's your herb, now, I've got a special going on with Crank and E-tabs, you care for any?"

As for the other two arguments I always hear: No, we aren't going to go crazy like in Reefer Madness, at best, we're gonna sit right down, and polish off a pie...or two. I mean, its as if these people making these idiotic arguments haven't ever been to a college party, because, if they had, they would know that the guy smoking pot on the couch is going to -- worst case scenario -- fall asleep and people will write on him. The guy doing keg stands and/or doing lines of coke in the bathroom is going to try and fight you...or sleep with your girlfriend.

Finally....IT IS NOT ADDICTIVE. I implore you, do research on it, read every book written on the subject....Marijuana addiction doesn't exist.

For all the complaining we do, about so many stupid, insignificant things in this country, we are overlooking an option that would put our country back on track financially, reduce crime, give kids less access to drugs, and empty out some of our over-crowded prisons. How can we not justify the legalization of Marijuana?


Robert Walsh said...

Well done. Did you notice in your research that the amount of time spent on the paperwork for any kind of drug arrest is identical (unless firearms are discharged)? Wouldn't common sense, then, dictate that drugs like meth, heroin, and cocaine retain a higher priority for the tragically understaffed law enforcement of aMErica?

Toni D. said...

Thanks for a great column K.R.! Look's like Rockdem has a really good new contributor.

Don't let the idiot trolls discourage you when they start showing back up. Ignoring them is the best thing to do.