Why Should We Legalize Marijuana?
The majority of Canadians want marijuana legal, weed should be made legal.
The majority of Canadians want the federal government to either legalize or decriminalize marijuana, according to a new Forum Research poll.
According to Forum Research inc, A Forum Poll (Canada’s leading public opinion poll and the most reliable chronicle of the public pulse in the country), released August 20th, showed that 53 per cent of Canadians agree that marijuana should be legal. When asked how the government should deal with it, 35 per cent said it should be legalized and taxed and 33 per cent said it should be decriminalized for small amounts. Only 15 per cent of respondents said the laws regarding marijuana should remain as they are currently and 12 per cent said penalties for sale and use should be increased.
Many supporters of legalization believe harsh drug laws haven’t limited access to marijuana, but instead have cost billions of dollars on arrests and imprisonment of nonviolent drug offenders.
Why we should legalize marijuana?
- Prohibition has enormous social costs.
Effects of prohibition run from wasted resources to ruined lives. Our police devote thousands of hours to arresting, booking and imprisoning marijuana smokers, many of whom are otherwise law-abiding. According to the New York Times, ““It can take a police officer many hours to arrest and book a suspect. That person will often spend a night or more in the local jail, and be in court multiple times to resolve the casThe hundreds of thousands of people who are arrested each year but do not go to jail also suffer; their arrests stay on their records for years, crippling their prospects for jobs, loans, housing and benefits.”
- The benefits of criminalization are minuscule to nonexistent.
Cannabis prohibition is quite costly, A fair analysis of criminalization must also consider its benefits. The thing is, it’s not clear that there are any.
If law enforcement agencies wanted to find a good “minor offense” correlate for violent, dangerous crimes, marijuana use doesn’t make a lot of sense. The high itself doesn’t inspire violence, and there is no real case to be made that smoking pot causes one to go on to worse crimes. Even the gateway effect—the theory that cannabis leads to other drugs—was discarded long ago.
- Prohibition is racist.
In one of its series of editorials, the The New York Times reviews the history of cannabis criminalization, and finds it has been racist from the outset in the 1930s. The campaign to make pot illegal was “firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time.” The word “marijuana” was popularized as a way to associate the plant with Mexicans.
Harry Anslinger, the man who single-handedly set the tone for 20th-century attitudes towards drugs, for 32 years (1930-1962) he was the first Commissioner of the US Bureau of Narcotics. He was criminalization’s biggest champion, he formed the basis of the movement to make weed illegal: In 1937 he declared “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers,” Anslinger declared. “Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” According to a comprehensive 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, in the US, ““Whites and blacks use marijuana at roughly the same rates; on average, however, blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession.”
- Weed has legitimate medical effects.
In August, 2013, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent wrote, “Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called Weed.” I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning. I used to mistakenly believe that the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse”. They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month. I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that. “
Despite medical marijuana being legal in Canada, Weed is still difficult and risky to obtain for millions of people who could benefit from it. Loosening marijuana laws would help many of these people, and repealing prohibition would help all of them.
- Marijuana Is Not, Repeat Not, a Gateway Drug
Access to marijuana and drugs and the pressures of the illicit market do tend to be predictors of drug use. It’s not the weed that’s the gateway, it’s the prohibition of it. Nobody thinks of booze and cigarettes as gateway drugs because there’s no heroin and cocaine next to it on the store shelves. But when you have to break the law and visit an illicit market to use weed, you’re also presented with greater access to other drugs. And for some, once they’ve violated the law and become “a druggie”, there is a loss of an inhibition, a crossing of a line, that someone who is a legal drinker doesn’t feel. For others, when they do get access to weed and discover it’s not the deadly dangerous devil’s lettuce that will shrink their balls, enlarge their man-boobs, lead to heroin, and turn their brain into a fried egg, they feel lied to and bamboozled and may lose the inhibition of believing the mostly-factual information about hard drugs.
It is not marijuana use but individuals’ opportunities and unique propensities to use drugs that determine their risk of initiating hard drugs.
- Cannabis is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.
We have been led to believe that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug that destroys lives and is a far greater risk than other recreational drugs such as alcohol. Governments have tried to convince the public that people who use pot are more at risk to themselves and the public than those who use alcohol. A new study now shows that smoking the controversial plant is about 114 times safer than drinking alcohol.
What could make marijuana good?
In fact, alcohol was found to be the deadliest drug on an individual level, at least when it comes to the likelihood of a person dying due to consuming a lethal dose. Heroin and cocaine were the next most deadly substances, followed by tobacco, diazepam, amphetamine, methadone, ecstasy, and meth. Trailing up the rear was marijuana.
Many people die from alcohol use. Nobody dies from cannabis use. People die from alcohol overdoses. There has never been a fatal cannabis overdose. The health-related costs associated with alcohol use far exceed those for marijuana use. Alcohol use damages the brain. Cannabis use does not. Alcohol use is linked to cancer. Cannabis use is not. Alcohol is far more addictive than cannabis. Alcohol use increases the risk of injury to the user. Cannabis use does not. Alcohol use contributes to aggressive and violent behavior. Cannabis use does not. Alcohol use is a major factor in violent crimes. Cannabis use is not. Alcohol use contributes to the likelihood of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Cannabis use does not.
Marijuana is the least dangerous recreational drug. Marijuana has the lowest risk of mortality.
Still, in what is likely thousands of years of human consumption, there have been no documented deaths as a result of marijuana overdose. A marijuana user would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC in a joint to be at risk of a fatal dose.
Marijuana laws are ineffectual. It is a plant. It grows like belladonna and mushrooms and corn and soybeans and hops. For the believers it is one of God’s gifts.
The narrative about marijuana is indeed changing in the Canada, and the old scare tactics about addiction and crime simply don’t ring true. Instead, voters are showing a record willingness to explore the potential benefits of decriminalizing marijuana. And because voters want to talk about legalizing weed, elected officials will have to evolve in order to keep up.