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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