Your Daily Mindjob
This is my personal blog where I'll offer up some political straight talk as well as thoughts on technology and pop culture. That should give me plenty to talk about. The world can give you one heck of a mindjob. Think like me and get your daily dose.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Legalization: Tell me why

One of the hottest debates out there in the US is whether or not marijuana should be legalized. Among the links and rants I find online in support of legalization, I find lunatics, belligerence, stereotypical stoners, and tangents which lack a cohesiveness that I can digest. Among those people, I find a pronounced disgust with authority, skepticism (if not demonization) of the medical community, and an overall lack of organized rationality.

So with this post, I am going to throw out some of the reasons I've been given for legalizing marijuana. Then, I'll follow each point with a brief criticism of those individual points.

I will not entertain rants from the likes of the same people I described above. You have to convince me why it is I should support legalization and my counterpoints must be addressed, not ignored by way of restating the original claim I am questioning.

I will not discuss marijuana use for medicinal purposes. I support its use for medicinal purposes if prescribed by your physician. While the method of administration is still in question, I cannot object to its use if no other pharmacological alternatives exist.

1. Marijuana as a substance vs Alcohol as a substance

The first, and often frequent point proponents use to advance their cause is that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, yet we allow everyone to drink. It is the anti-prohibition stance. For some, it is the lunacy which coincides with the anti-pharmaceutical industry stance.

My rebuttal to this point is not to question the effects of marijuana. As someone in the medical field, I know the effects and as a member of the scientific community and as a reasonable person, I must hold fast to the peer reviewed evidence, not the propaganda out there often produced as evidence by potheads. I will not entertain arguments related to those studies. Even potheads know smoking marijuana carries similar risks to smoking anything. Leave this one alone. There is another very important point to make regarding the effects of this substance that has nothing to do with the studies for or against marijuana use. We respectfully disagree with each other on that subject, so I cannot reasonably have that discussion.

What I have to do is take this discussion to the next level and I urge you to come along if you're still with me. If you're not, I'll wait for your mental preparedness to catch up.

Ready? Thank you to those of you who opt to continue reading with some sense of decency.

One of the main reasons people drink alcohol is for the effect it has on our bodies. The disinhibition and the "liquid courage" reputation alcohol has is one of the biggest influences for its use. The burn of a whiskey shot or a cherry soaked in Everclear is by no means a responsible method for ingesting alcohol. While it remains a legal form of use, it is by no means a responsible act, right?

In other words, lots of people drink to get sloshed. Getting drunk, last I checked, is a behavior we frown upon. Glorified intoxication is not at all entertaining, but sad. You should not drink to get drunk. By the same token, you should not use other substances to get high for the same reason you should not want to get drunk.

Among the stoner community, getting fucked up seems to be a priority. To me, this qualifies as a form of mental escapism which equates to getting drunk. You are using a substance to alter your mental and physical state not sanctioned by the supervision of a physician. These features make it a substance of abuse, not merely an enjoyable experience.

If it isn't, then tell me what your goal is when you take this substance? If the goal is no different than the college kid at the bar on the week end, then I cannot support legalization of mental escapism. Getting stoned is just as ridiculous a notion as getting piss drunk. The problem is, marijuana really doesn't have an in-between phase. A glass of wine at dinner does not have the same marijuana-equivalent. Stoned is stoned.

In addition, alcohol is a beverage. As a beverage, it has a certain appeal to our taste buds. Wine enthusiasts and many beer fans drink because they enjoy the taste of their favorite drink. The qualities of individual liquors are savored. Marijuana does not offer this culinary feature. When you eat brownies supplemented with THC, you aren't getting any additional flavor. You eat the laced brownie for the intoxicating effects. Because your aim is not the appreciation of flavor, but rather the effect the drug has on your body, I will refer you to the previous paragraphs and end there.

If, after this, your goal is still to get fucked up, make sure you read #3 below. Intoxication will come with regulations just like alcohol intoxication.

2. Marijuana as a cash crop

In the last few years, given the major budget issues present in both local government and within the Federal Government, supporters of legalization have argued that, if legalized, marijuana will generate tax revenue.

How exactly will it do this? In order to be taxed, it has to be sold just like cigarettes and alcohol. Marijuana will have to be produced and distributed by companies in order for profits to be taxed. There are problems within that system, including corporate loopholes for avoiding paying taxes altogether, but as a cash crop, a corporate solution seems to be the only option, whether it be through a large or small business.

If it does not go through a company-based system, then we are talking about individual growers and consumption. So you're telling me that if you grow it in the basement, you're going to charge for it? You will report this revenue to the IRS? If everyone can grow the stuff, once legal, then why would anyone pay for it? My point is, a personal system of distribution will not generate revenue.

On top of this, potheads really never thought through the notion of weed becoming a cash crop. Let's assume we were able to institute a system where companies produce marijuana for mass consumption by the public. Let's assume it becomes a source of tax revenue as you claim it should. How much will you pay for your weed then compared to now? More? Less? You can't expect me to believe that your local corner dealer who is holding will charge more than some company with an added tax on top of the base price. Just like cigarettes, you'll be paying more. A tax will mean you will be paying more for your weed.

If your personal preference is to guard your wallet, I would highly recommend keeping the current system we have. Marijuana can't be a cash crop, so unless you want to pay more, you might rethink this point and live life accepting the drug as an illegal product. Continue with the status quo.

3. Decriminalization

This is the only argument that has any validity to it, but with decriminalization comes responsibility and other forms of regulation. Like the cash crop idea, it is apparent that potheads have not fully thought through this step either.

Do I think possession and intent to sell should be a crime punishable by imprisonment? Probably not. Our prisons should not be holding places for stoners.

What I cannot tolerate, however, is public intoxication. We punish people who are in public, drunk. We require that you do not drive under the influence. Marijuana most definitely impairs your reaction time and perception of reality. We cannot allow you to be in public under the influence. Marijuana use must strictly be limited to your home or in bars designed to distribute the substance. If you get in a car, high, you should still be held accountable under the law, subject to harsh punishment just as someone who drives drunk.

If you opt for decriminalization, the laws must still be modified to moderate public domain. You can do whatever you want in your own home or on your own property, but the second you step into the public domain, you will be held accountable. Your personal freedoms cannot extend into the public domain if your impairment poses a risk to the general public.

With that, I leave you to advance the conversation. Any comments which cling to old ideas and tired arguments I could read via a Google search will be deleted without any consideration.

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