Happy 4/20, friends! I don’t fancy myself a stoner, so it’s not really a holiday for me, but I’m sure it is for many of you. (p.s. To read about the interesting history of 4/20, see Ryan Grim’s article here.)
With that said, I think it is an appropriate day to set forth my argument for legalizing marijuana. My friend B. is probably laughing right now, because every time he makes a well-thought-out, impassioned case for the legalization of all recreational drugs, I play devil’s advocate and disagree with him. I’m not sure that I would go so far as to say that heroin should be legal (and regulated), at this point, even though I have heard some really strong arguments for it. The jury’s still out on that one. But I can unequivocally say that I can’t see one reason why marijuana is illegal and alcohol is not.
I’m sure you’ve heard all these arguments before, so I’m going to spare you the diatribe, but I thought that I would at least throw a few bullet points out there to open up the debate.
1) The most obvious argument: Pot is a less dangerous drug than alcohol. Drunk people start fights, knock things over, act generally belligerent, get in their cars and kill people. Stoners play video games, listen to music and watch movies. The answer is not to prohibit alcohol– we all know how that experiment turned out– but to legalize pot and regulate it.
2) Marijuana is, quite literally, a weed, which means it’s cheaper to grow than just about any other crop. The reason why marijuana farmers here and in Mexico make so much money off of it is because its illegal status has jacked up the price. If marijuana was legal, and anyone could grow it in his backyard, it would be less lucrative to grow than a garden full of tomatoes. There wouldn’t be huge drug cartels smuggling pot across the border and blowing each other up, and local pot dealers would be obsolete. You don’t see the people who own liquor distilleries having epic shootouts in Tijuana and running elaborate booze-trading rings in the ghettos of Baltimore, right?
3) Marijuana is already so easy to procure that legalizing it wouldn’t significantly change the amount that it’s used among adults or youth. Teenagers already smoke pot as if it’s legal, so what’s the point of using so many of our resources trying to prohibit it?
4) Why are we wasting our jail space and police power on people who are simply making bad decisions about how to treat their own bodies? We’re not arresting people for starving themselves, or for being obese, or for cutting themselves, but I recently read that over 50% of people in U.S. prisons are in there for drug possession/use/distribution. Do you know how expensive that is for taxpayers? Why don’t we just let them rot away on drugs if they choose, give them plenty of rehab options and resources, and save the prison space for rapists and murderers?
That is all from my soapbox. I would now like to open this up for discussion– Do you think pot should be legal? What about other drugs, like cocaine and heroin? Why? Why not?