Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Another result from the Colorado election yesterday

It turns out that yesterday was a busy day in the original Rocky Mountain State. Besides pulling all of the teeth out of TABOR, voters in Denver decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.

Now, it is true that the vote is largely symbolic, given that state laws against the possession of marijuana will still be enforced.

But what it does point out, is that the voters in Denver as elsewhere are way ahead of the politicians on this issue. Very few politicians are willing to stick their necks out and say they are in favor of legalizing marijuana, but in fact most people recognize that 1) it is a drug, but no more dangerous than, say, alcohol, which is legal; 2) banning it has not kept kids from getting it, 3) keeping it illegal has helped create more violent criminals since they have a collective monopoly on the marijuana market, and 4) we spend a lot of money fighting marijuana that could be put to better use elsewhere (starting with educating young people about the effects of marijuana and other drugs).

Now, I do not use or desire that anyone I know should use any drug without a doctor's prescription. And I am aware that prolonged marijuana use will kill you the same way as tobacco-- by filling your lungs full of tars and other substances that don't belong there, until you die from emphysema, lung cancer, etc.

But there are a lot better ways to fight something that is socially undesirable besides arresting people for it.

6 comments:

Mr. Mack said...

A couple of things, Eli. People who smoke marijuana don't do so with the same frequency as cigarettes. It's possible to hit your bong or toke on a joint once or twice a day, and I don't know anyone who smokes cigs like that. Also, the neat thing about marijuana is that you can make tea, or bake it in cookies, in fact, it's a better "high". The hysteria over this drug has always baffled me. I have never ever met someone who gets violent or even aggressive after getting high. It's a mellow high, and most people can drive while under it's influence. The medicinal uses are well documented as well. As for those that argue that it's a stepping stone to harder drugs, I would say alcohol is by far a more effective catalylst. Further, yes, I agree that law enforcement dollars would be better spent, say, rooting out Meth labs....

mark said...

If its a mellow high, why is it called being high? Some people can drive while over the legal limit of blood alcohol, but they shouldn't.

That being said. I agree that some lifting of legal penalties for marijuana is prudent. We can't afford to imprison every pot smoker.

Mr. Mack said...

Getting high is a generic term for feeling the effects of some illicit drug, Mark. Marijuana is not PCP, it is a weed, that grows practically anywhere, in fact, it is easier to grow pot than tobacco. Much easier. Obviously, people should never drive if impaired, I'm just saying that it is a hell of alot easier to drive "high" than drunk. As for not being able to afford to lock up pot-smokers, I hope you mean from a ehtical standpoint. What right does society have to tell me what I can smoke, especially when it grows up from the ground?

Barbi said...

This reminds me of a poster back in the late 60s and early 70s that said something like, "The Lord made grass; man made booze. Who do you trust?" :-)

Anonymous said...

Mack

Just to let you know, a recent New Zealand study has shown that 3 joints a day has the equivalent effect on the lungs as 20 cigarettes a day. The medicinal uses of marijuana maybe "well documented" but they are certainly not proven by clinical trials. Marijuana is not a safe drug.

Eli Blake said...

anonymous:

You are right, but a large part of that is because marijuana (unlike tobacco) is unregulated (after all, if something is illegal there is no way to regulate it). It is often sprayed with deadly pesticides and may be treated after harvesting with any number of chemicals. And of course, the people who grow marijuana have no incentive to breed weed that reduce tars (which have been reduced between breeding and the introduction of a filter in cigarettes about 90% from what they used to be).

That in my view is another reason to make marijuana legal. Once it is legal, you can regulate it, you can publish the tar content and work to reduce tars, you can develop a filter, and do any number of other things to reduce the hazard. Of course there will still be a hazard, we know that. But I suspect you could make it at least as safe as a tobacco cigarette without going to extraordinary measures.