This is why I’ve Reversed My Position on Marijuana Legalization

colorado-marijuana-tourismOnce upon a time I used to dismiss the argument for the legalization of marijuana pretty quickly because I honestly didn’t care.  I didn’t care because when it came to that issue I was completely ignorant. Honestly, it’s a plant people smoke to get high — who cares, right?

In fact if I leaned either way, I leaned toward believing that it shouldn’t be legal.  I think honestly the biggest problem I’ve had with legalizing weed was the people who smoked it.  Maybe it was just the ones I knew, but “potheads” drove me nuts.  I swear, all they wanted to do was get high.  All they talked about was when they were going to smoke next.  And if they weren’t getting high, or talking about when they were getting high, then it was how were they going to buy weed so that they could get high.

I always felt like the friends I knew who smoked weed were rarely sober.  Now I know the popular saying is that weed is much safer than alcohol and facts seem to overwhelmingly support that stance.  But the problem I saw was one of the “downsides” to alcohol.  It was much harder to mask drinking, or function drunk, than it was to mask being high.  Even friends I knew that were alcoholics weren’t always drunk.  They drank quite often, but the “hangovers” many of them got often prevented them from drinking as much as they might have wanted to.

Again, maybe it’s just who I knew and grew up around.

But as time went on, and I read more facts about the benefits of marijuana use, I decided I could definitely support it for medical purposes.  I can’t even imagine why anyone would oppose using marijuana for medical purposes if there are facts (and there are) that prove it’s beneficial.  I say, light it up!

Still, total legalization I was on the fence about because like I said, I had ignorant views about how people who enjoyed “smoking weed” acted.

Then I started to read about the people who were in jail for being caught with marijuana.  Now I get why someone might face some kind of criminal prosecution for selling marijuana (maybe not to the extremes as far as prison sentences I’ve read about) but to go to jail for simply being caught with marijuana?  It’s ridiculous.

A fine?  Sure.  Community service?  Why not.  But to take someone who smoked weed and put them in jail cells with real criminals is absolutely insane.

Hell, I think it’s stupid we put drug addicts in jail to begin with.  You take people with an addiction, and instead of putting them in facilities that might help them overcome that addiction, you label them a criminal and throw them in jail.  A jail where many people come out worse off than before they went in.  You know how many times I’ve seen people say they weren’t criminals until they learned how to be one while in jail?

But the more I started to think about it and weigh the facts, the more I began to ask myself, “What the hell am I opposing?”

I don’t smoke.  Even if marijuana were legal I wouldn’t smoke it.  But I’m realistic enough to understand that while there are people who smoke weed and are addicted to it (if you really believe weed has zero negative impacts on people or society you’re lying to yourself) there are tons of people out there who smoke who you would never think do.

Even in my adult life I’ve learned of adults who regularly smoke marijuana who I never would have guessed that they did.  These are successful people with wonderful families — how in the hell could they smoke weed?

My ignorance began breaking down more.  And I believe that’s how you defeat ignorance.  It’s like racism.  You aren’t born a racist, you learn to be one.  But most racism is grown from ignorance about those who they are racist against.

Then I started looking at polls of Americans who wanted to see marijuana legalized.  For a while the majority of Americans didn’t want to see marijuana legalized, and as a believer in democracy, to me that was the final decision.

But that’s no longer the case.  Most polls done in the past year or two show not only a growing number of Americans supporting the legalization of marijuana — but it’s now a majority.   It seems others have had their ignorance about the plant broken down as well.

As it stands today, I’m in full support of national legalization.  That doesn’t mean I want to see weed being smoked in bars, or sold at Wal-Mart, but the way Colorado has it set up seems pretty logical.  You can buy marijuana, in certain amounts with certain limits on how much you can have and at a certain age (21 years old), and it can be smoked in your home.

Seems pretty simple and rational to me.

Hell, just think of all the money we’ll save.  The billions we spend locking up “criminals” because of marijuana.  The billions more than can actually be made by creating this entirely new tax revenue stream.   And let’s face it, it’s not a matter of if but when marijuana will be legal.  The writing is clearly on the wall.  Two states have legalized it, with many more surely to follow.  It’s like same-sex marriage.  It’s not a matter of if it will be legalized nationally, just when it will happen.

And while it’s not going to happen overnight, I believe for both marijuana and same-sex marriage the when, as it relates to national legalization, will happen sooner rather than later.

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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  • Brian Frang

    Good article. If I may make one tiny nitpick,though, the friends you had that were alcoholics likely didn’t let a hangover stop them, considering more drinking is one of the easiest ways to make the pain and nausea go away. And chances are, they drank a hell of a lot more than you knew about. Especially if they seemed to be functioning, at all.

  • Quacker

    Being from Oregon and living and growing up around weed all the time, I really never understood the issue. No body gets high then beats their kids, or smacks their partner around. You can’t even smoke enough to kill you in one sitting. With alcohol you get violent drunks and alcohol poisoning. It’s time to sit back and really look at the situation and make a decision. As soon as the tax revenue is in for this 1st year in Colorado, and states/feds see the amount of money being generated, THAT will be the “oh yeah” moment. Nothing gets the states/feds to move on something like money. Look at alcohol prohibition, it ended one the states/feds realized the sheer amount of money they could make.

    I also know MANY people that smoke you would never guess. When people find out I have (and sometimes still do) they are shocked! But, you’re smart and great at your job. Good family, wonderful kids, beautiful wife…..how can you smoke? It makes me laugh every single time!

  • Cemetery Girl

    I favor legalization based on a historical standpoint. Prohibition did not work. It was the great failed experiment. Criminalization of alcohol caused more crime. Criminalization of pot has fed crime. I say legalize pot, regulate it, and tax it.
    As for addicts as criminals, the ones that I have known, their self serving mindset is the problem. From the addicts that I know, their own self interests are the priority, even before addiction, which I believe adds to the problem

  • Kevin Daugherty

    Personally I’ve seen several people ruin their lives and/or die from alcohol abuse, but don’t know of a single marijuana user that has done either. The reason marijuana is illegal anyway goes way back and was about competition with hemp in agriculture, not the getting high part. Plus I believe the government has a vested reason for keeping it illegal, which is futile, but it has to do with the fact that THC actually makes you think about how corrupt our government actually is. So I’m sure this will add a page to my FBI file but…whatever.

  • moe/larry & curly keys

    legalize cocaine and gambling and prostitution also—– keep the money in America; get NON criminals OUT OF JAILS,,, make our over-crowded courts for CRIMINALS again and keep the coast guard looking for CRIMINALS.
    I smoked a TON until I was 29—- even legal I will not touch it again: but I will become state licensed to sell it!

  • marmacy

    I had a few friends that smoked but I am against smoking ..period.
    However after reading the medical benefits of people that traditional drugs can’t help I begin to change my feelings….I have several friends on line that admit to using weed, but they have never created problems for themselves or others.

  • John Moody

    “if you really believe weed has zero negative impacts on people or society you’re lying to yourself”..please clarify? The only negative impact on society is that we arrest 900000 people a year for cannabis and new positive impacts on people are coming to light everyday..please give me one VERIFIABLE negative impact on people other than treating them as criminals?