Should We Legalize Marijuana?

420You know, I’m really not sure.

I’ve gone back and forth with this for a while.

On one hand I get some of the arguments those who support its legalization use, such as it’s medicinal purposes.  And honestly for medical purposes I fully support its legalization—but then that opens the door to my first problem with it being legal.

In this country we have a huge problem with people abusing prescription pills, many of which are obtained legally from a doctor.  What many of these individuals do is network with people that share a similar addiction, locate doctors who they know hand out prescriptions like candy, then they continue to use that doctor to feed their habit.  Many of these individuals also learn what to say to doctors to get the certain kinds of pills they’re after.

So, with the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, I see the same thing happening.

Continuing with the medical argument, what if people take it for anxiety?  Do we allow people to smoke whenever they feel anxious?  Then if that’s the case, what’s to stop people who want to smoke from simply claiming they “felt an anxiety attack coming on” just to get high?

Wouldn’t that mean people could possibly have a reason to be high at work?  School?  Isn’t that a little dangerous?  It’s illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence–wouldn’t smoking weed constitute being “under the influence?”

Something I often hear when it comes to marijuana legalization is “it’s not as bad as alcohol,” and that might be true, but people aren’t advocating the medical use of vodka.  Alcohol is mostly seen as just a substance.  You won’t hear rational people argue that people should drink alcohol for medical reasons.

Someone won’t go to their boss at work and say, “I need a drink, doctor’s orders.”  But if you legalize marijuana that could be something employees begin to say.  Then in today’s society, an employer questioning someone’s medical conditions can be a giant civil liberties lawsuit just waiting to happen.

But let’s say it’s legal for medical uses, but not at work, how would you tell if someone is high or not?  A substance like alcohol has a metabolic process in which it filters through our body–marijuana is not the same.  Someone could have smoked last night and still test positive for its use the next day when they were perfectly sober.

Then say it’s only legal for medical reasons, and you (someone not medically cleared to smoke) happen to be around someone who has medical permission to smoke marijuana.  You get hired for a new job but must pass a drug test before you can start, only you fail the drug test due to secondhand consumption of smoke when you were around your friend—now what?  How do you prove that you didn’t smoke?  This is an extreme example and is unlikely to happen in most cases, but it is possible.

Another issue I’ve thought about is the consumption of marijuana.  Do we limit how one can intake the substance, or do we allow people to consume it any way they’d like?

If you allow it to be smoked, do you only allow it smoked in private residences?  After all, it is possible to get high off secondhand marijuana smoke.

So then do you legalize marijuana but make its public consumption illegal?

I also question the habit of smoking itself.  Not smoking marijuana exactly, but smoking in general.  People who smoke tend to do so out of the habit of smoking, not just the physical cravings for the substance.

Anyone who knows a smoker can almost predict when they’ll smoke.  Often when they first wake up, when they drink their coffee, after they eat, as soon as they get in/out of a car, when they drink, as soon as they get home, right before bed, etc…

Now, I know many will say marijuana isn’t addictive, and they might be right on some levels.  It doesn’t seem to carry with it the same physically addicting qualities of nicotine, but you’re naive if you deny that the act of smoking itself for many marijuana users is a habit.  Just because you might not smoke off and on throughout the day doesn’t mean that there aren’t many smokers who do.

But smoking as a habit is simply handled differently by most than drinking.  At work if you “step out for a smoke” you keep your job, if you “step out for a drink” you’ll likely be terminated.

Then there’s the argument of the millions we spend on incarcerating people who smoke weed and that I will say is ridiculous.  If marijuana is going to stay illegal, it should be treated much like alcohol consumption by a minor—not on equal standing with drugs like heroin and crystal meth.  If they want to keep it illegal and jail those who sell marijuana I could see that argument, but to jail its users is just—stupid.

But honestly what I hear most goes back to that line I mentioned earlier about how “it’s not as bad as alcohol” or “alcohol is worse.”  Whenever I hear that, I don’t hear “Marijuana is good.”  I just hear it isn’t as bad as something else.

I always say to these people, “You claim it isn’t as bad, and that might be true, but why should we introduce legality to a substance just because it’s not as bad as another substance?”  Isn’t that really an argument to ban both substances?

These arguments always produce stats showing the horrible impact alcohol has on our society—the deaths, the illness and the damage it causes to families—but that’s showing why alcohol is bad, not why marijuana is good.

I’m still not sure where I stand, however I do feel people need to take a bigger picture view on this issue before jumping to a conclusion either way.

Because while both sides for and against the legalization of marijuana have their points, I don’t believe we’ve spent enough time viewing the issue from each perspective.  That being said, you can check out a differing perspective from one of my colleagues here, it’s well worth the read.  Where do you stand?

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • jabberwocky

    I’ve never bought into the medical MJ argument because I think there is a lot of abuse in places like California. I’ve also never bought into the argument that pot doesn’t kill people. We’ve had several cases around here where people have died at the hands of a driver high on MJ.
    Let’s just keep it illegal and increase the penalties.

    • Juliet Neary

      You’re a very dumb troll.

    • Great, so we should completely ban alcohol too, because lots more people have died at the hands of a driver drunk on alcohol.

      The reality is nobody has died as a direct result of smoking marijuana, unlike alcohol, tobacco (hell, tobacco can kill you if you simply are around people smoking it), prescription pills…Actually, you will overdose on water long before you can overdose on weed.

      I would say nice try, but it was weak at best

    • theg8r

      Right, let’s take the absolute worst part of MJ being illegal, the incarceration of nonviolent pot smokers, and make it even worse. Yeah, I get that.

    • Hey Jabberwocky…I hope you are just being ironic. Oh, and POT doesn’t kill people. Not a single person has ever died from MJ. Period. It’s not an argument, it’s a fact, feel free to google it, look through online medical journals if you want as well. And please post the cases of people who died by MJ drivers…have you ever tried pot? I think not.

    • Your completely stupid

    • Juliet Neary

      Don’t feed the trolls.

    • Eddie

      jabberwocky, you’re a dumbass

      . keep it illegal and increase the penalties is what the past 40+ years of the “War On Drugs” has been doing and obviously it’s not what the people want

  • jabberwocky

    I’m getting bored with this site.

  • Yes we need to legalize marijuana for so many reasons. We can save lives and stop sending people to jail for no good reason.

  • During Prohibition, people could get a prescription for alchohol.

  • So is this idiot trying to argue that people should continue dying on prescription pills instead of having access to marijuana that has never, ever, ever, ever killed anyone?

    I understand that Allen was trying to make a point that drug abuse is a problem in America. But, the trouble with people like this is they are so misinformed that they cause more harm than good. If we would simply treat drug abuse as a sickness instead of a crime we wouldn’t have the largest prison population (per capita) in the world, most of which are imprisoned due to nonviolent drug offenses and if we educate our youth instead of avoiding it hoping they will never find out about drugs, then maybe we would see less drug abuse.

    If the people who died from prescription overdoses were smoking marijuana instead, most of them would still be alive today.

  • Should we “RE”-Legalize marijuana-?

    YES-!

  • Pam

    I don’t do any type of drugs, but before I open my mouth to give my opinion on something I investigate about it first to be well informed of what I am going to say. I have researched about Marijuana for many years and frankly I can’t find anything negative about that drug. There are laws for alcohol then there should be laws for Marijuana too. But never to the point of incarcerating people just because they use it. I wish more people would smoke Marijuana so there wouldn’t be so much violence in the world.

  • @Ross Miller, our prison population is the highest in the world, period. not just per capita. The US has about 2.5 million incarcerated with China a distant second around 1.8 million…The prison industrial complex is a huge reason why the US continues to keep these prohibition laws on the books…obviously they don’t work at curtailing drug use but what they do facilitate is the creation of a profitable modern slavery industry where corporations can make money off the misfortunes of others…

    • *our prison population is the largest in the world…but also probably the highest ;?D…

  • psbintl

    Legalize it for adults, but make it a felony offense if given to or sold to children and if any sales are noted within one mile of any school!!

  • Bullshit!!!

  • Obviously written by a person who hasn’t been on prescription pain pills and their ability to change a persons perception of reality or better said make someone crazier then a sacka poo.

  • … all true; however we must take into consideration why marijuana was criminalized in the first place. Enjoy 420.

    • Kelsey

      Military scientists gave some guy an amount of THC that would be physically impossible to do on your own and saw that the guy went nuts. Then it became illegal.

  • cwaggy

    If you believe – as I do – in limited government and freedom of choice – then every other argument is wrong in principle. Maybe we need to ask the question: Why is it illegal? There is simply no good answer.

  • Lisa

    Coming from one of those countries that considers the US to be the most drug liberal country in the world, I gotta say, you people sure get upset about your drugs being taken away. I don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t do drugs, and I actually do just fine. It’s okay to handle reality without drugs, people. It works just fine. And if you need substances to function that much, maybe the problem lies deeper, and you should treat the cause and not the symptom. Being in the US and listening to people trying mushrooms and smoking weed and stuff at ages fourteen and lower… I mean, cultural shock for sure, but even so.
    Also, from an ironical point of view, it’s amusing how weed is supposed to chill people out, and all I see here is hateful online yelling and name calling, haha.

  • gary friedman

    I am totally sick by the “holier than thou” attitude of those who compare medical marijuana to social drinking. I hope that you NEVER get cancer, have chemotherapy, lose 50 lbs. because of total appetite loss and taste buds that think you have metal on your tongue. By the way…..I am who I’m talking about! Medical marijuana use, brings taste and appetite back to a semi- normal state, I live in Arizona, where we voted FOR medical marijuana usage…….but our state government is waiting for the DOJ to stop threatening to arrest LEGAL sellers if they should open the dispensaries. As a progressive democrat for my entire adult life(I’m 66), I can say that cancer doesn’t care whether you are a tea bagger, a lib, a socialist, a libertarian etc. This is not “social use” for the reason of getting stoned; its survival. Opinions are like a-holes…..we all have one. I sincerely hope that people who decide understand(at the risk of sounding dramatic) that this is life and death for some of us.

    • Juliet Neary

      Amen.

  • there is alot of “good” about Marijuana and i have read ther’s alot of bad also,but the good out weighs the bad,even the bible say’s to partake of seed bearing erbs,look at the fiber content of the plant,clothes,rope and other things can be made of it,there are several ways to ingest it without smoking it.and far less people get killed on it than any other drug,lets face the facts everyone can grow it untill the goverment figures out a way to control the growth and tax it it will never be legal and that what it comes down to

  • Eddie

    Hey Allen, try smoking some so that you know what you’re talking about.

  • I will start off saying that I do smoke pot. I do so because of insomnia and pain. I do not just sit around all day, every day smoking and doing nothing else. I would also like to state that if in a hard financial time, if I had the choice to pay bills or smoke, I would pay bills and deal with my insomnia and pain.

    For a person who uses the substance, tried every possible solution to my “issues” , Marijuana is actually a better choice for me, Albeit, illegal. I look at this “substance” as a natural plant. If you look at other “drugs” (which I do not believe marijuana is a drug), you have to mix chemical compounds or “manufacture” one substance into another to make a drug.

    Even if we go a step further than just medical legalization, complete legalization, you will still have to place certain rules and restrictions on marijuana. Every rule and restriction that alcohol has, marijuana has to have too. You cannot smoke and drive, smoke in public, smoke before or during work.

    One last statement that will probably get the most flak and feel free to give it, I will rebut with no issues. If you choose to make something illegal due to what could happen, then we need to do that to everything. Yes, legalizing marijuana COULD lead to abuse, but we cannot let that decide the fate of legalization. Many things can lead to abuse, Forks to the abuse of food as just 1 thing. it does not matter what the issue is, something can always be abused if someone chooses to abuse it, but that is why we have free will.

    As Marijuana is a natural plant that needs no additives (like tobacoo), does not need anything but water, dirt sunlight and food to be manufactured (unlike alcohol, cocaine, crack, meth and other drugs) and can be used medically. The legalization and sales of marijuana can help make money to lower deficits and the profits can help balance budgets. While marijuana can have some long term medical effects, they are no where near the long term effects of alcohol and tobacco use!