I’m Pro-Legalization (and You Should Be Too)

It’s (high) time for everyone to get behind legalization.

No, not because I want to get stoned.  I don’t — I tried recreational marijuana once in high school and it’s something I just don’t enjoy personally.

“So why are you so strongly pro-legalization?”

Hang on a second — why don’t you support legalization?

This isn’t about getting high.  I’m not going to sugarcoat marijuana use like many advocates for legalization do – there is significant evidence that heavy marijuana use in youth can decrease intelligence and may increase the risk for testicular cancer.  But the truth is, even with these studies, you should be pro-legalization for a few simple reasons:

1. The disproportionately high percentage of Americans incarcerated for marijuana related offenses (over half of all arrests) for a substance that is not lethal, is nonaddictive, and has fewer health ramifications than alcohol (a lobby group that donates millions per year to keep their unfair distribution rules law to strangle competition and to keep pot illegal) is inconsistent with a just society.

2. The use of laws and law enforcement for financial gain at the cost of liberty is not morally or financially justifiable.  Money from raids is taken in to Police Department funds while taxpayers foot the bill for imprisoning the nonviolent offenders.

3. The history of hemp in America points to an economically and environmentally significant crop staple.  Food, animal feed (both farm and natural), fibers (paper, clothing, et cetera), and yes, medicine, were all produced from hemp in the US into the 20th century.  Since then, all hemp products (clothing, personal care, rope) have been imported with high tariffs imposed to protect the cotton industry, despite the fact that the crop could be grown cheaply, sustainably, and effectively across the US. Source. The War on Drugs is literally taking jobs away from American farmers and fiber industries.

4. The fear and misinformation about the use of marijuana leads to laws and policy being dictated by emotion rather than fact.  Men and women in positions of power use legalization as a platform to create fear and push to keep marijuana banned.  Fear as a tactic is an abuse of power and trust.

You’ll notice that none of these points hedge on the health benefits of marijuana.  While the research I’ve seen does clearly point to some positive uses for marijuana in medicine, legalization should not be just for medical reasons (wikipedia article for quick reading).  There is no valid reason to continue to incarcerate Americans for nonviolent offenses and limit our agricultural and industrial capabilities based solely on early-mid 20th century fear mongering and misinformation about marijuana (that has persisted into policy today despite being proven untrue on numerous occasions).  It’s harmful to our economy and harmful to our citizens.

There is no “Reefer Madness” — the madness is continuing this failed War on Drugs.