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Legalizing Marijuana!

The legalization of non-medical marijuana.

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Restore some sanity to drug laws.

  • Dec 2, 2010
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Our drug laws are messed up.  There is no sense of proportionality of threat in what is regulated or how heavily.  Strangely marijuana plants are the only plants subject to an outright ban in the US under the Controlled Substances Act.  Even opium poppies are not banned by that act (though putting the flowers in ornamental, cut flower arrangements is, bizarrely).

I do not smoke pot.  I did a few times in college and found it, well, boring.  Moreover as a software developer, I would expect that pot would reduce the effectiveness of my work.  However, I support legalization entirely.

We need to restore some sanity to our drug laws.  Most drug law enforcement occurs at the state and local level.  Legalization shifts the burden to the federal agencies and it helps ensure that our local police forces are protecting us.  Moreover this places the federal government under some pressure.  Already Holder has issued a statement saying that medical marijuana laws will be taken into account by the DoJ.  Outright legalization laws would eventually receive such recognition too.

The simple fact is that mind altering substances are relatively easy to come by, and they are not usually illegal.  Historically herbs like mugwort and wormwood have been used, as well as more potentially toxic ones such as henbane.  None of these are controlled, and even if they were, substitutes could be found.  Does anyone really expect that it would be possible to ban plants and spices such as lettuce, chilli peppers, or nutmeg?  Yet each of those has potential mind altering uses as well (lettuce plants can be made to produce an opium-like substance, chilli peppers can trigger euphoria if consumed in large quantities, and nutmeg is a hallucinogen).

The time has come to fundamentally rethink drug laws.  I'd like to offer my recommendations here:

1)  Draw a strong line between raw plant matter and chemically purified or synthesized drugs.  Heroin is not the same as opium.  Cocaine is not the same as coca leaf.  Pure caffeine is not the same as coffee.  The chemically purified and synthesized drugs are almost always more powerful, more addictive, more dangerous, etc. than the raw plants.  Indeed Salvia divinorum 30x extracts are quite different from the plant matter that such was extracted from.  Raw plant matter should be given a free pass.

2)  Draw a line regarding what level of risk is acceptable and assess such chemically refined or purified drugs by that risk.  Approach things carefully and rationally, rather than accepting hype.

Marijuana doesn't pass either prong of my suggested test.  It is generally less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.  It's a raw plant matter.  It should be legal.  Even if it isn't legal, there is no justification for treating it more rigidly than, say, opium.

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August 27, 2011
De-criminalization of marijuana will take thousands of nuisance cases out of the Court system.
July 28, 2011
I don't smoke it; I hate it, but I believe God put it on this earth for a reason, just as the other raw plants and herbs he gave us, and I do not see why it can not be legalized for medicinal reasons at least - it eases the pain of cancer victims for one thing (among other purposes) and it seems marijuana would be useful for a cancer patient more so than the awful pain meds that are the alternative. Well written review!!
December 28, 2010
Great review and well written! The amount of money that we waste on marijuana is upwards of $13-$16 billion a year. Multiply that by the years we've had marijuana criminalized and it's shocking. I think it's also ridiculous that marijuana is classified in the same drug class as cocaine and heroin! There are so many benefits to legalizing or at the very least, decriminalizing, marijuana- not to mention the multiple uses of the hemp plant itself.
December 02, 2010
Well put - it astounds me that this is still even an issue, considering the other concerns we could be spending our time on. Thanks for sharing.
December 02, 2010
Like so many other things like gay marriage, the anti-marijuana laws will pass away due to lack of interest and a loss of hysteria. Or equivalently, the arrival of reasonableness. What is most ridiculuous is that the hysteria over marijuana is keeping this country from growing a related crop, namely hemp. Hemp is grown all around the world and used to be grown in the United States before the marijuana hysteria. In fact many if not most of the original documents such as the constitution were written on hemp paper. It is a product that can be used to make paper, packing material, bio-fuels and the seeds are a healthy food. There have been attempts by Indian tribes desperate for economic activity to grow hemp and they have been rejected. More paper can be made from hemp per acre than can be from trees so the use of hemp could save an enormous amount of forest land.
December 02, 2010
One historical data point to consider is the anti-gruit laws which occurred at various times in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. To my knowledge none of them are on the books today.

To my knowledge none of these are on the books today.  At the time, however, they were imposed for a complex set of reasons including concern over folks getting intoxicated with gruit beers (hop beers were said to be less intoxicating), and a concern over funding various parts of the Catholic church in this process.  In other words, the reasons were economic and political as much as hostility towards intoxication.  (Recently gruit beers are making a come-back in some craft-brewing circles, btw.)

In the end, though, these laws proved impossible to enforce when the Church no longer had a monopoly on gruit and home brewing was at issue, but commercial brewing was still required to use hops for some time afterwards.

I think the current set of anti-drug laws will suffer the same fate, but it will be a slow death.  What's more important is to ask ourselves what we really want out of the anti-drug regulatory regime, be realistic about it, and then device a new scheme to replace it.  Certainly heroin on every street corner is not a desirable outcome.
December 02, 2010
Hysteria is really the right word for it, and puts the decision making in context of how irrational our society has become on this issue.
December 02, 2010
Interesting piece, The ideas you have presented here are definitely worth considering because the approach we have been using for the past 50 years just does not seem to be working very well.
December 02, 2010
It's been said that marijuana use leads to bad decision making, and this includes bad decision making by people who never touch the stuff....
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review by . October 26, 2010
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review by . February 24, 2010
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Heated debate broke out in my home shortly after ten o'clock last night after a Law and Order SVU (duh, duh) episode, a debate which will probably make my brother hate me and question my political beliefs for a long time to come. I'm not going to go into detail about how the debate started, but what I will tell you is that I questioned whether a man can be held lawfully responsible and imprisoned for an act which never impeded on the rights of another human being, no matter how sick and perverted …
Quick Tip by . December 11, 2011
I think if they came up with laws and guidelines as with alcohol and tabacco, the legalization of weed would be much better! I mean, Amsterdam had legalized it, so why can't we? It would also make the stuff much cheaper and we would probably have more control over its distribution (as with not selling to minors)      If it does get legalized, I hope the restrictions and guidelines don't get as annoying as with cigarettes. SF had gotten very silly with some ordinances, …
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Chris Travers ()
Ranked #117
   I live in a haunted house Beneath a tall and mighty tree   With my wife Mia and my sons Wilhelm and Conrad   Where I write software and carve runes   It is a … more
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Attempts to decriminalize cannabis  in the United States began in the 1970s. Several jurisdictions have subsequently decriminalized cannabis (also referred to as marijuana or marihuana) for non-medical purposes, as views on cannabis have liberalized, peaking in 1978.  The decriminalization movement supports efforts ranging from reducing penalties for cannabis-related offenses to removing all penalties related to cannabis, including sale and cultivation. Proponents of cannabis decriminalization argue that a substantial amount of law-enforcement resources would be freed, which could be used to prevent more serious crimes, and would reduce income earned by street gangs and organized crime who sell or traffic cannabis. Opponents argue that cannabis on street level today has a much higher percent of THC  with a stronger drug effect, the decriminalization will lead to increased crime, increased cannabis usage, and subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs. Gonzales v. Raich, 2005 ruled in a 6-3 decision that the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution allowed the federal government to ban the use of cannabis, including medical use.
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Politics, Drugs, Public Policy, Marijuana, Drug Legalization, Drug Laws


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