Friday, January 3, 2014

Legalized Marijuana-What's the Problem?

I have absolutely no tolerance for the opinions of people who condemn the use of marijuana-medical or recreational-but have absolutely no problem with alcohol. Alcohol is a dangerous, addictive drug; marijuana may be addictive to some (isn't everything addictive when it's pleasant?), but it certainly isn't as dangerous as alcohol. Not by a long shot. The state of Wyoming is warning Coloradans about bringing their newly legalized pot into their state-an ironic situation, to say the least. What is legal and not criminal in one state could fetch you a hefty fine and jail sentence in another. And meanwhile, people are free to drink all the booze they can afford (and not afford) in Wyoming, killing innocent people when they get behind the wheel of a car, physically abusing spouses and children, losing their jobs and homes from abuse, developing hideous diseases like cirrhosis, and generally being a public nuisance. These are not the type of behaviors associated with pot use or even pot abuse-marijuana smokers mostly tend to be a peaceful lot. I will concede that my evidence for this assertion is mostly anecdotal and from personal experience. I am sure there are incidents out there were someone stoned on pot did something stupid and/or criminal-but I'm willing to bet that these cases are statistical anomalies, and not the norm. Being tolerant of alcohol but intolerant of marijuana is strange, a blatant moral contradiction and a largely emotional issue. Marijuana may not be as safe as mother's milk, but it is no way nearly as dangerous as opponents tend to claim. It produces a mild feeling of well-being-much like having one or two drinks of alcohol, and then stopping. It heightens sensory perceptions, increases creative activity, and has very significant medical benefits for glaucoma, nausea sufferers,  and chemotherapy patients. On the down side, excessive marijuana use makes the user slow and stupid ("stoned"), and can lead to the abuse of other drugs. But yet, this is true of alcohol, as well-in fact, drunk people infamously have a lowered sense of judgment and discernment, are prone to impulsive actions, and take foolish risks. For those afraid that legalizing pot is a slippery slope that will eventually lead to the legalization of the truly dangerous drugs like cocaine and opiates, I get it. But we need not fall down that slope if we are vigilant. Having marijuana legal and readily available is really just a matter of giving people a safe alternative to Demon Rum-and as such, I heartily approve and concur.

Update: I once had a friend who liked to drink ever now and then. When she found out I liked to smoke pot ever now and then, she quickly dropped me-all the while, taking the moral high ground, as if I were some kind of pathetic loser. "It's against the law, you idiot" she actually told me. I remember that day well, when the person I thought was my friend consigned me to the trash can. It hurt a little, of course, but then I got to thinking: why do people think that just because a law is a law-I repeat, just because a law is a law, that makes it moral and right? By what right do you tell me I can not put marijuana in my body, while you are free to drink yourself into a stupor? If you are afraid that I might harm you or your loved ones, then you know very little about marijuana users. Many of them are honest, decent, hardworking people just like you!

I've been having this fight with my family for years. I simply can not understand how it is someone else's business what I do with my life in private-unless I am actually causing someone harm. I've been vehemently against employer mandated drug testing since I was just a kid, and I still am. I've been even more vehemently against lengthy jail sentences for marijuana offenders. Today, I have little time to indulge my pleasure. I smoke maybe five joints a year, if that-but I still feel and believe the same way I've always felt over the many issues surrounding marijuana and it's legalization.

So I would like to offer an olive branch to all the people whom I've antagonized in the past over this issue: let's go to Colorado and smoke a freakin' joint and go see a movie.

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