Day 324 Question 324:
Should marijuana be legalized in ALL states?
This topic has been on the table for a very long time now. Back in my college days I used to enjoy toking up a good bit. Do I think that marijuana should be legalized? Honestly, yes I do. I look back at my time in college (and even after) and it was alcohol that was way more of a bigger threat to my life. I am lucky to be alive because I took far too my chances driving drunk (yes, I realize that was my poor decision). Alcohol is this substance that has been legal for many years and really its only purpose is for recreational use. Marijuana is natural and yes it can be used recreationally but it has been found that there are healthy patients for those suffering from glaucoma and various forms of cancer. Marijuana gets such a negative reputation because the media depicts dirty hippie stoners using it and these are the people that are useless that don’t hold jobs. Yea, I am sure there are people like that out there but I know plenty of people that smoke herb that function every single day and people would be unaware that they even use it. I really can only speak from the perspective of someone that has had first-hand experience with the “drug”. No, I do not choose to smoke pot nowadays but that is because I really just don’t feel like it and I don’t want to spend the money on it. It is no secret that I tend to fall more on the side of being a liberal….at least when it comes to social issues. I guess I just don’t understand why alcohol is legal but marijuana is not…especially after the many deaths we see every single year from alcohol poisoning or drunk driving. I quit drinking 2 years ago for many different reasons but one main reason is because I did not like the person I became when I was drinking….I made an ass out of myself and I felt depressed. I could never say the same thing when I smoked pot. Before you get it all twisted….I am not saying I think people should walk around being stoned all day everyday but yes I do think it is safer than alcohol. In my opinion, alcohol is just as much of a gateway drug as pot or anything else. You don’t hear stories of people blacking out and being raped or getting into fights that they don’t remember when they are stoned. If anything when stoned a person is way more laid back and possibly kind of giggly. It may sound lame and “hippie-ish” to some but when I used to smoke back in the day I sometimes felt like my creative juices would go into overdrive and in ways my senses and my thoughts became more clear. I was able to express myself in a way that I never really could otherwise. Again, I am only speaking through personal experience and I am NOT saying that I think people should get high all day long. I just believe that people that smoke function better in society than those that drink regularly….trust me I speak from past experience.
I expect to get criticism from this blog and that is ok. This is my forum of honesty. It is inevitable that people of the world are going to use different “substances” for recreational use. Marijuana has been labeled as this horrible drug because it has been made illegal for so long and alcohol remains the drug of choice and the drug that has taken far too many lives every single year. How often do you hear about a person “overdosing” on weed or causing a multiple car crash killing many people because they were high (I am not saying it doesn’t happen…but the statistics would show that alcohol causes it way more often)? I am sure my parents wouldn’t love reading this but I think they would understand where I am coming from. I can’t help but think about the number of people that may criticize marijuana use and legalization but can shovel in mountains of fast food (and shovel it into their kids mouths). Children are drinking sugar filled sodas at younger and younger ages and eating all sorts of processed foods and there is not the same kind of debate behind it because it means money is circulating more and more. Trust me I feel way more addicted to unhealthy food than I ever did marijuana and there is greater chance that the effects of the unhealthy eating could cause my final demise. Just something to think about. :0)
The end of the war on marijuana
By Roger A. Roffman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Roger A. Roffman is a professor emeritus of social work at the University of Washington, a sponsor of I-502, and author of the forthcoming “A Marijuana Memoir.”
(CNN) — The historic measure to regulate and tax marijuana in Washington State deserves to be looked at closely as a model of how legalization ought to be designed and implemented elsewhere in America.
We’ve turned a significant corner with the approval of Initiative 502, which purposefully offers a true public health alternative to the criminal prohibition of pot.
For the first time in a very long time, the well-intended but failed criminal penalties to protect public health and safety will be set aside. Adults who choose to use marijuana and obtain it through legal outlets will no longer be faced with the threat of criminal sanctions. People of color will no longer face the egregious inequities in how marijuana criminal penalties are imposed. Parents, as they help prepare their children for the choices they face concerning marijuana, will no longer be hobbled by misinformation about the drug and the absence of effective supports to encourage abstinence.
“The great experiment” of alcohol prohibition became the national law in 1920. Its intentions were good, but it failed in a number of vitally important ways. In 1923, the state of New York repealed its alcohol prohibition law. Ten other states soon followed, and in 1933 national Prohibition ended.
I believe Washington state has just played that pivotal role with regard to marijuana. Moreover, by borrowing from public health model principles known to be effective, the state has offered the most compelling replacement to prohibition considered to date.
What is a public health model? In brief, it’s an approach that acknowledges use of marijuana can present harms to the user and to public safety, and includes provisions to prevent or ameliorate those harms.
A public health model includes six key elements. Washington state’s new law incorporates each of them.
The first is accountable oversight by an agency of government. The Washington state legalization model assigns responsibility to a state agency for writing regulations concerning how the growing, producing and selling of marijuana will occur. Among those regulations are tight limitations on advertising and the prevention of access to marijuana by minors. Then, that agency will have the authority to issue licenses to growers, producers and sellers and to enforce adherence to the rules.
The second element is a well-funded multifaceted marijuana education program that is based on science rather than ideology. Far too few Americans are sufficiently informed about marijuana’s effects on health and behavior, both the positive and the negative. A key to good decision-making is possessing accurate information.
The third element is well-funded prevention programs widely available to all the state’s geographical and demographic communities. We’ve learned a great deal about what knowledge, skills and community supports actually work in helping young people navigate a world in which drugs such as marijuana are readily available. Sadly, far too little funding has been devoted to putting such programs to work in our communities.
A fourth element is making treatment of marijuana dependence readily available. The new law dedicates funding to establish a statewide Marijuana Help Line. It also earmarks funding to state, county and local governments for the provision of services for those in need of help.
Evaluation of the new law’s impact is the fifth element. An independent state agency will receive funding to conduct periodic assessments of how the new system affects behaviors, attitudes and knowledge. Using the findings of these evaluative studies, the state agency overseeing the pricing and taxing of marijuana can adjust those costs to maximize undercutting of the black market and deterrence of youth access to marijuana.
The sixth element is research. The new law earmarks funding to the state’s two major research universities for the purpose of conducting marijuana-focused studies. As we gradually learn how to live more healthfully and safely with marijuana, the knowledge derived from those studies will inform education, prevention, treatment and refinements in the law.
In more than 40 years of research — primarily marijuana dependence counseling interventions for adults and adolescents — it has seemed to me that prohibition has hindered more than it has helped good decision-making. Far too many teens think smoking pot is “no big deal,” greatly underestimating the risk of being derailed from social, psychological and educational attainment. Far too many adults don’t take seriously enough the risk of marijuana dependence that accompanies very frequent use.
We can do better. By regulating and taxing marijuana based on a set of strong public health principles, I believe our cultural norms concerning marijuana will shift and the harms we’ve witnessed will greatly reduce.