The decriminalization of marijuana isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Ever since President Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1971, there has been a growing subculture almost religiously devoted to decriminalizing marijuana. Proponents of its legalization use poetic, scientific, and various other methods and tactics.

I’ve heard arguments for its decriminalization in popular culture and through various “pro-pot” organizations, so I think it would be fair to play the Devil’s advocate (and I’m left-of-center).

A common claim used by the pot proponents is that Prohibition was a “failure” in decreasing alcohol consumption. Many like to point to statistics that say consumption-related deaths increased 50 percent or more. Context is the key here, as that figure is based generally on those who were persistent drinkers, not the actual overall population.

According to a 1991 study done by The American Economic Review, alcohol consumption decreased to 30 percent of its pre-Prohibition level—a huge leap forward.

While this sector did regain by 60 percent after a few years, other factors were part of this increase, including improper reporting of crimes and other legal technicalities.

Another argument used to fight legalization of pot is the emotion- tugging claim that the government is making sick people suffer, because pot helps combat pain.

The only truth is that the research to date has found only limited clinical value in one compound of its FDA approved form, not in its smoked or raw form, and only one component of this works. Those odds aren’t really good enough backing for this little plant.
Dr. Robert DuPont, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, stated that “there is no acceptable role in modern medicine for using burning leaves as a drug delivery system because smoke is inherently unhealthy.”

I’m personally unconvinced by the claim that patients with severe illnesses need it, as legitimate medication is more needed not only to ease pain but to also treat the condition.

Pot does not treat the problem; it only temporarily masks the pain and can make the rebound even worse.

Most patients using pot in states that offer it medically are between the ages of 18 and 25, and do not suffer from anything greater than an occasional bout of the hiccups. This is not to say that I’m unsympathetic to those who actually are terminally ill, as due consideration and exception should be given to anyone whose day-to-day life is misery.

Pot proponents also assert the economics part of this issue into the mix.

One of many cited statistics states, “50% of our prisons hold drug offenders.”

That figure is certainly true, but that encompasses ALL kinds of drugs, their users, and drug makers/dealers. When one looks at only pot-related incarcerations, the figure is less than 5%, and the majority of those are drug pushers.

Personally, I do not want any harmless users being sent to prison, and I think it would be best to help any addicts whose lives are being slowly eaten away (no pun intended) by offering public clinics to get help without fear of getting arrested.

Pot proponents like to assert that the War on Drugs costs the government too much money, billions of dollars a year, and is straining the budget.

Combined, the federal and state governments spend only $40 billion a year on enforcement. So let’s see how much the nation spends on the War on Drugs.

In 2010, the nation spent about $3.6 trillion. Drug enforcement costs $40 billion.

So 40,000,000/3,600,000,000 = 0.01 or 1 percent of national spending. Wow, what a dent in the fiscal state of the nation!
My take on this issue is rather complex, and even I’d say unpopular amongst my fellows. But while I can write all I want about this or that, I want to hear from you on this very touchy issue.

What do you think?

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