What is the point of keeping Marijuana illegal? I don’t use it, and I wouldn’t start if it were legal. Frankly, I’m still on the fence about legalization, which isn’t necessarily a bad place to be; it’s a tall fence, and there’s a good view of both sides. Boy, you should see what I see! Public posturing, irrational knee-jerk reactions, name calling – I’m not sure I want to step in what’s on either side!
Let’s be clear: I support law enforcement. I come from a “good” family. My dad was a cop for two decades, then he went on to teach criminal justice and public administration. My mom was a nurse before she raised five kids. A sister is a Fed, another sister is an EMT, and my brother is a CPA who works for the Lutheran church. Two siblings are married to attorneys, and I would be a cop if I didn’t have PFC. (Rotating shifts are bad enough for a mom, but they are impossible when the dad works graveyards with rotating days off.) I think substance abuse is foolish and potentially dangerous, and I think breaking the law is usually a bad idea. I drink alcohol, but in moderation. It’s not a moral issue, although it is hard to find time to get loose when you’re responsible for a child, a home and a job. For years, I didn’t bother. These days I just don’t tolerate it well.
Anyway, what is the rationale behind marijuana prohibition? Well, for one thing, it initially got a huge push as a racial issue. The good ol’ boys in
used it to keep the Mexicans in line. Would white middle class Texas have cared as much about it otherwise? Maybe, but perhaps it would have been restricted and regulated like alcohol instead. America
Bigger reason: it’s a “gateway” drug. Most users of more dangerous drugs started with pot. This is true. But why? And why isn’t alcohol as much of a gateway drug? I think the difference is availability. People buy booze from strangers in public places – public transactions. They buy pot in private, from people who usually want to sell them addictive drugs, because that where the real money is. They have to develop somewhat trusting relationships with these people. You see, I don’t think selling weed is very efficient, and I suspect that on the street level there’s not a lot of profit in it (I could be wrong.) It’s relatively bulky, which leads to the storage issues for high volume dealers, and storing it is inconvenient and risky. But how many drug dealers routinely give away pot or sell it cheap, then encourage their customers to try something better? Most of them; isn’t that the standard business model? I’ve known a lot of pot smokers in my life, and most of them aren’t looking for a better high. It’s like alcohol is to me; the drug itself does not make me crave something more. It’s not the substance itself that makes it a gateway drug, it’s peer pressure from the people who sell it. If that weren’t the case, wouldn’t more alcohol drinkers be looking for drug dealers, wanting to buy “cooler” stuff? The bottom line, if pot smokers could buy a couple of joints with their beer and groceries, how many of them would endanger themselves by actively seeking out people who commit felonies daily?
Next reason, weed can be dangerous. Not more so than alcohol, and less addictive. A negligible point.
DUI. That’s a big one. It should be illegal to drive impaired by anything!!! I think people weaving on the road, talking on the phone should be charged with reckless driving. Not having killed anybody yet doesn’t mean their behavior isn’t reckless. That’s why cops measure blood/alcohol levels – prevention. A drunk driver doesn’t have to hit a thing to be arrested. It would be great if there was a relatively cheap roadside test that instantly measure THC levels as well, but even that shouldn’t be necessary. I think police should rely less on breathalyzers, and more on videotaped sobriety tests. That should be the primary standard. If you display poor reflexes or can’t keep your balance while jacked up on adrenaline, you should NOT be driving. I don’t care what your BAC is, you are impaired. Driving under the influence of any drug is the issue, the legality of the drug is not.
Here’s the tough one, for me anyway. Marijuana arrests lead to bigger arrests. Cops routinely use pot arrests as preliminary steps in getting some very dangerous people off the streets. This is not harassment, or unconstitutional search and seizure; it’s a legal, acceptable tool in the pursuit of public safety. Law enforcement is enough of a minefield. It’s a constant struggle for balance between stopping crimes and violating civil liberties. Not to mention liability and politics, but that’s another subject. I would hate to deny such a valuable tool to law enforcement.
In the end, is marijuana prohibition costing us more than we can afford? Maybe it is. We really need to stop screaming, and examine this issue in a rational manner. It’s a matter of safety, personal responsibility, and billions of dollars, and it shouldn’t be treated like a sacred cow. Oh look! A pig just flew over the house!!! Frankly, I’ll never know how we came to a relatively sane solution to alcohol prohibition. I can’t imagine that happening in today’s political climate.