I spend a lot of time in an area of New Jersey in which hope, health, and happiness are low but drugs, hurt, and crime are high. This has brought me to a conclusion that will not be greatly popular and doesn't break any new ground; however, it must be said. We must rethink some of the things that are illegal and consider making them legal.
I understand why most drugs are illegal. I've never taken anything, but I am intrigued by the fun that people claim to have from using drugs. I don't have a great memory, nor do many drug users. Thus, I often wish I had taken drugs so that at least I would have had the fun that everyone else had while still suffering the residual effects. I knew a group of psychologists from the University of Pennsylvania who would gather about once a month for "research." About five of them would take one of the drugs on their checklist while another few would observe. Those who were "off" that month would take notes, bolt the door, and strictly follow their policy of "what happens in research, stays in research."
I understand why alcohol is restricted. However, I remember a commercial from a Spanish television channel that I would watch when I was a kid. There was a guy pushing what looked like an ice cream cart through a park. He had a white suit, kind of looked like Leon Redbone, but instead of ice cream he handed out cans of "Schaeffer Malta" to a bunch of kids. They were singing and dancing around the cart and having a damn good time. Still, it's kind of scary to think of kids walking into a 7-11 and sucking down a six pack as easily as they now finish off cans of Red Bull. Although beer is much healthier than soda or those energy drinks, it still brings along that drunk thing.
The discussion I want to hear more about is the legalization of marijuana. I'm not saying that the arguments for legalization or either solid or valid, but I am saying that they're worth listening to and I can understand them. I also understand long division, but that doesn't mean I want to do it.
When it's time to make controversial and significant change, four things must be weighed: 1. what are the detriments? 2. What are the benefits? 3. Do the benefits outweigh the detriments? 4. When is the next Springsteen album coming out?
- A mind altering substance becomes legal. Does it alter one's mind any more than alcohol?
- It is a substance that may have poisonous chemical additives due to uncontrolled production. Are the chemicals added to marijuana any worse than the 43 poisons added to cigarettes?
- We are admitting failure by legalizing something that we've spent so much time and money fighting against. I'm sure similar things have happened, like the rhetoric that was heard regarding casino gambling, prohibition, and our dependency on foreign oil.
- More people will have access to it, thus more people will use it. As it stands now, anyone who wants marijuana seems to be able to get it without much trouble. Prohibition didn't decrease the number of users, but it gave them a cool place to hang out -- but only if they knew the password.
- Legalizing marijuana will remove the criminal element. By removing the criminal element, we will take the pressure off our already overcrowded penal system. We will stop the violence that surrounds the transportation and commerce of marijuana. Thousands of lives will be saved from the murders involving drug dealers, gangs, and the War on Drugs. Thousands of people who make a living through selling drugs will be forced out of work but unable to drain our unemployment system. We will deflate the image of the wealthy, urban drug dealer that is unfortunately greatly celebrated and admired in music and videos. Many kids drop out of school because they can make a great deal of money working for drug dealers instead of Dunkin' Donuts. I don't see too many rap songs coming out about middle-aged factory workers boxing up a shipment of state-grown marijuana.
- Legalizing marijuana will help the economy. In the next ten years we're either going to make cigarettes illegal or kick North Carolina out of the country. That includes Duke Basketball. However, there's a way to save it. Cigarettes are a major part of the economies of both the 12th state but also the other 50, plus Puerto Rico and DC, not necessarily in that order. Philip Morris could now be called Philip Marijuana. Let them grow, package, and sell it. The tax income will be incredible, not to mention how much it will piss off a few South American countries that hate us. We can even unionize it. How cool would it be to join the Local 420 Friendly? It will save jobs and money, but they'll need a new state flag.
- It will decrease the number of Americans living in poverty. This one is iffy. Once marijuana is legal, the price will greatly decrease. Now those who sit home, wasting 80% of their paycheck going up in smoke, will now have some money left when the "munchies" start creeping in.
- Decriminalization means control by the Food and Drug Administration. This will greatly reduce the random people dropping dead because nobody knows what bathtub-mixed additives were laced into this week's batch.
The biggest drawback I can see to legalization would be the concern for people driving while under the influence. However, when you factor in the likely decrease of incidents involving aggressive driving and road rage, then it might be a wash.