Saturday, July 9, 2011

Marijuana Laws - Federal, State, or...Seriously?

First, let me say that I am neither advocating the use of, nor criticizing the use of marijuana, and the reason I decided to write about this topic is that, daily (see blog title), I check out various news sites.  USA Today published an article yesterday regarding marijuana laws and a new memo that our beloved Department of Justice sent to their US Attorneys, nationally, on June 29, 2011.  In the memo, it states that no patient or other user is shielded from prosecution under state laws.  All this, it seems, on the heels of Michigan's Attorney General going wild last week and declaring that there is widespread lawbreaking linked to medical marijuana.  Basically, the feds are now going to crack down on medical marijuana growers and distributors and could, potentially, target users.  They are fed up with an industry that tries to shield itself from prosecution under the guise of being 'medically necessary' while raking in millions of dollars.  Whew....I feel the need to throw a few facts in here as this topic seems to be heating up again, especially since I've already advocated legalization, taxation, and cleaning up the economic issues we seem unable to fix.

First, I did a little research to find, what I considered to be, important facts.  There's a fairly big myth out there that the government continues to spread.  Namely, is marijuana addictive?  The answers I found surprised me and, quite honestly, made me shake my head in disbelief.  The answer, simply based on a 'physical addiction' is NO.  The reports that I read, mainly studies done by and for the government, suggest it IS physically addictive, however the eventually hedge their bets.  Mainly, they say that it is psychologically addicting - the more you smoke, the more you want to smoke.  Well, yeah, I get that one.  The best part, however, is the 'Chart' they kept suggesting I refer to.  On the chart, they rated several substances in terms of "social dependency" - the percentage of people who have tried the drug that are now dependent on it in terms of enjoying it on a regular basis.  Interestingly, they rated tobacco, alcohol, heroin, and marijuana.  The statistics were alarming!  Ready for the numbers?  Tobacco - 21%, alcohol - 11%, heroin - 7%, and marijuana - 4%.  Let's see.....if I'm doing my math correctly, marijuana has the lowest level of 'social dependency' at 4%, while alcohol is 2 1/2 times higher!  Just a few numbers so we can determine whether it truly is addicting.  I think not.

Another issue brought up is that marijuana is a 'gateway' drug - it leads to harder substances.  Okay, for this juicy little tidbit, I have to point out that the author says, point blank, that it being a gateway to other, harder substances is due to curiosity.  If that's the case, then we have to label alcohol and tobacco the same way.  Curiously, I've tried both and they made me want to try other things.  Bad tobacco.  Bad alcohol.  Bad, bad, bad.

There are a few other numbers I need to point out, too.  Overdose statistics are a big 'red flag' for this drug.  My findings?  I think you already know.  There has NEVER been one reported case of a marijuana overdose.  You see this, right?  NEVER.  I have not only heard of heroin overdoses but, honestly, recall seeing more than a few stories about alcohol poisoning recently.  Kids on college campuses dying because they drank too much and their friends never got them the help they needed.  Let's face it, anyone  nearing the 'end of the line' while smoking a joint only get hurt when their friends continue top bring them chips and salsa, Oreos, and Fruit Rollups.  The munchies get them, not the weed.  Of the most interesting stats, though, was in regard to traffic accidents.  When mentioning marijuana-related traffic accidents, the studies almost always inferred that this was in conjunction with other drugs.  For the purpose of my writing, I'm going to give them this one and suggest that it was pot, alone, that was the causative factor.  So, in total, there were 400 deaths annually due to pot smoking-related car accidents.  On the flip side (hold on to your hats for this one!), there are 50 alcohol-related deaths DAILY.  That means that it takes eight (8) days to have as many deaths due to alcohol as it does for an entire year of deaths due to pot smoking in a car.  Alcohol is the legal one, right?  Yeah, thought so.

I've made the argument before, and there are staunch adversarial arguments against, about the legalization and taxation of marijuana.  It's time.  For those in a prior generation or two, I understand you do not want to see it, but let's be honest - it's because you never tried it and are relying on the things you've been told or read about it.  These are the same generations that held Christmas parties where employees put lampshades on their heads before crawling into their cars and driving home.  We continue to kill people because alcohol is legal.  I want to know why.  I want to know why a drug that is 2 1/2 times more addicting than marijuana is legal.  I want to know, based on legitimate statistics, why marijuana isn't.  If alcohol is legal, shouldn't this be, too?  We are spending billions of dollars every year to fight a war on drugs and one of the most sought-after is marijuana.  It's the most prevalent, hence it is easy for the government to appear they are waging a battle that is even close to being won.  If we spent the same money going after cocaine, heroin and meth, wouldn't we be taking the harder drugs off the street while utilizing this (a drug less harmful, apparently, than alcohol) to produce revenue to continue the war on drugs while lowering the deficit, too?  Just a thought.  I know it's a subject that will be debated for years - always has been, always will be...but know this - it will eventually be sold legally.  Let's hope we wise up and figure out how to do it soon.  Anyone want to share your thoughts?  I'd like to hear other views.

Until next time.......

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