As I sit watching the Senate (and, unfortunately right now, Holy Joe Lieberman) debate the amendments to the Stimulus Bill on C-Span 2, I spend most of the “quorum calls” toodleing around the net looking at recent events and searching for job openings in any of the fields that I’m capable of (I lose my adjunct teaching position in June and I’ve got to find something, at least part-time, to take its place.) One of the things that stands out in recent events is the issue raised by Michael Phelps photographed smoking pot with a bong.
So it seems this has gotten him a 3-month suspension as a swimmer and Kellogg’s has decided that someone who tries marijuana can’t sell cornflakes. Seven Gold Medals from the last Olympics is now negated by something which I would guess that the majority of college (and/or high school) students try at least once in their lifetimes, and which many adult professionals are also known to enjoy. We still keep alcohol, which has as many problems, if not more, than pot also has, and tobacco, which we know kills with cancer, legal.
So may be it’s time to, if not legalize marijuana, at least decriminalize it. This was Obama speaking in 2004:
(see video at Under The LobsterScope)
There are good reasons for at least decriminalization and there are good reasons for legalization, most likely with age restrictions, as well. Note the following:
1. By stopping the illegal status of marijuana, we would be able to free a huge number of prisoners held all over the country who have done nothing else to justify their internment:
Since 1990, nearly 5.9 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, a greater number than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming combined. In 2000, state and local law enforcement arrested 734,498 people for marijuana violations. This is an increase of 800 percent since 1980, and is the highest ever recorded by the FBI.
This would save billions probably in both state and federal funds. If this doesn’t immediately help our economic problem, I don’t know what will.
2. Marijuana’s medical status will be easier to fulfill, keeping the federal government from interfering with state laws, as it did under the Bushies, and adding a large dollar center to our medical industry.
3. By legalizing marijuana we have a new farm product which, aside from the sales and distribution of pot, could give us production of industrial hemp for making rope and other products… something we now have to go out of country to import at a higher price than raising it ourselves would incur due to federal laws that restrict such agricultural development.
4. The established proof of the relative safety of marijuana when compared to alcohol or tobacco has been raised over and over – A 1997 UCLA study (see page 9) concluded that even prolonged and heavy marijuana smoking causes no serious lung damage. Cancer risks from common foods (meat, salt, dairy products) far exceed any cancer risk posed by smoking marijuana. Respiratory health hazards and cancer risks can be totally eliminated by ingesting marijuana in baked foods.
Will this be something Congress takes a look at? Doubtful.
Would it help us get out of the economic mess, create a new industry which would add jobs, product and money to the economy? Doubtless.
So let’s tip our hat to Michael Phelps and hope that one day we wake up from the long sleep of stupidity which has cost us a fortune.