Legalizing marijuana?

Tyler Murphy

Recently I went along with detectives from the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office and participated in busting up a marijuana growing operation in a remote McDonough swamp.

The article attached a lot of feed back, nearly half of it from proponents of legalization who basically claimed that social taboo is the only real reason it’s outlawed.

A number of these responses revolved around the medical purposes of the substance and attacked alcohol use, which is generally accepted to have far more volatile affects on people than a number of illegal drugs, first among them marijuana. Another flawed angle of approach in the argument is that pot is a natural plant of mother earth and therefore less harmful than the non-oraganic drugs.

The most frustrating part of theses complaints is that I agree with their surface values but the line of reasoning is flawed.

Not as bad as alcohol?
Marijuana certainly gets more grief than it probably deserves when pragmatically compared to the social and criminal effects of other drugs, including alcohol- which I’m sorry to say is a drug.

Accept it or not if you drink alcohol you are in fact a legalized drug user. If it wasn’t why would people drink it to intentionally affect their mind’s chemistry provoking feelings of euphoria (aka buzzed) and withdrawal (aka, hangover.) And of course people get addicted to it’s effects and can be permanently damage by long term use. It’s a drug, and most of us are guilty of at least being occasional drug users.

However attacking alcohol doesn’t validate the view of legalizing pot, rather it credits the view of making alcohol illegal.

There is a good point in the “well if alcohol is worse for you and legal why can’t other drugs like marijuana that aren’t as bad for you be legal” argument. It is hard to refute rationally because the world we live in doesn’t make sense.

Some how alcohol made the cut and that’s just the world we live in. It kills countless of people directly and countless more indirectly, inspires all manner of domestic and social violence, it’s survived prohibition and apparently has a thriving base of consumers and powerful business interests aiding it.

The alcohol versus pot social taboo argument gets more sympathy from me than any of the others but it’s sort like complaining that life isn’t fair. Just because alcohol is worse doesn’t make marijuana good.

I need my medicine?
The concepts of medical marijuana are for the most part an utter joke. I know I’ll get a dozen mean spirited comments and testimonials for saying it but save your breath- most of you are uninformed or have ulterior motives.

Unless you’re the one in a million exception to the rule I’m positive modern medicine can deliver you a healthier, more effective alternative to your problem than THC (active ingredient in pot) can offer.

Realistically the argument for marijuana to be legalized for its medical treatment and pain killing ability is more often than not just a vehicle for putting forth an eventual debate for legalizing recreational use. So why not just admit it?

Most people probably figure medical legalization is a step in the right direction, but if there’s no real evidence to suggest it’s any more necessary than legalizing cocaine use for headache relief, then why argue it?

Having a patient testify to the wonderful healing effects of marijuana does not impress me, what matters are the scientific findings produced by medical professionals and pharmacists. The false front only alienates those in the middle of the issue who become disgusted by the such a deception.

It’s natural?
The people who claim that the organic value of pot has value in a critical debate are just nuts. Here are some other organic materials: lava, tobacco, the bubonic plague and poison ivy. All natural world creations so therefore they must not be that bad right? Like I said you people tend to be crazy I have no rational way to talk you out of your insanity. Again I see the same line of reasoning as the alcohol debate in that it cites the “there are worst things out there for you so how bad can it be” belief. There is always something worse, it is not premise for putting forth an active debate to positively convince me to support marijuana legalization.

Things to consider
Here are some good reasons why caution should be exercise in the debate.

The versatile nature of the plant makes it very easy for just about anyone to cultivate it leading to very challenging methods of control even in a legal system.

Legalizing a new recreational drug will have profound and unknown economic and social effects on our society.

Legalizing a formerly illegal drug is a dangerous precedent to set and may become a doorway for others to push agendas to legalize even more dangerous drugs.

We have alcohol, do we really need to bring another mind affecting substance into public acceptance? After all marijuana is a drug. A user will not be as healthy as a non-user and will need additional medical care over a life time.

Marijuana is a mind effecting drug and any substance that allows people to escape reality has the potential to become an addiction. If legalized more people will become addicted, it is inevitable.

Pot like any drug distracts people from real life, which is fine unless used too often. People who are high tend to be content just being high and do little to expand their mind. One day people who smoke too much might wake up and find they aren’t good at anything because they never bothered to get out and do something.

Having said all that I personally don’t see why the drug needs to remain illegal.

From what I’ve seen personally, professionally and academically the drug does not seem to strip a person’s sensibilities as quickly or as potently as other mind effecting drugs, legal or otherwise.

I don’t know of many marijuana generated aggressions such as fights, rapes or other out of control emotional incidents. It seems to be a victimless crime in many cases and rarely a catalyst to causing a danger to the community. However the drug is often used in combination with other drugs, like alcohol, so getting straight answers on the effects of a single drug in society can be difficult.

The concerns surrounding marijuana often seem to focus on those who over abuse the substance, symbolizing the stereotypical burned out, good for nothing, tie-dye wearing stoner. To me that’s like taking a DWI convicted, wife beating, alcoholic and saying everyone who drinks will become one.

The argument surrounding the substance focuses more on the individuals ability use the drug responsibly. This is the debate with any drug.

Given the lax laws regulating minor use and the increasing public acceptance of the drug I don’t see why we just don’t start regulating it. There is definitely a line to be drawn between marijuana use and the use of more dangerous and addicting drugs such as cocaine, meth and ecstasy.

I’m just not sure where that line should be drawn.

Even though I believe in respecting the rights of people to make their own choices with the drug, promoting marijuana or any drug use is certainly not good for our community, no matter how you argue it. That’s a fact.

In debating this issue of personal choice versus public well being we need to ensure the argument does not appear to encourage younger generations into accepting common marijuana use any more than we’d want them embrace abusing alcohol.

I do believe however it is a discussion deserving the merit of further debate.