It’s time I wrote another more generalized bit about cannabis. This site is about Alex, but I also want people to learn something new now and then.
Recently, the federal government has been making a lot of threats to states with medical marijuana laws. In Montana, this resulted in a bill with the intent to cut the 30,000 people who previously qualified for medical marijuana down to just 2,000. The feds seem to suddenly only believe that marijuana should be allowed for the terminally ill and those in intense pain that can be absolutely verified beyond the shadow of a doubt. The idea is to keep people from using the medical laws to partake in pot smoking.
I ask you to forget what you feel about personal use of marijuana for a little while. I am personally the victim of very strong morals about some issues, and I know how amazingly difficult it can be to not feel an intense rage toward people who do something I believe is wrong, even if I know my beliefs to be illogical. I believed so strongly that alcohol was “wrong” that I felt physically ill when I was 16 and found out a friend of mine had consumed alcohol on two occasions. She told me this to unburden her guilt, as she felt similarly about the situation, but I still couldn’t keep myself from telling her I was disgusted with her. I was thoroughly revolted that this otherwise good person had allowed herself to do such a horrible thing.
So please believe me when I say that I know how hard it is to change the core moral principles on which we were raised. But eventually I learned to stop worrying so much about how other people led their lives. I continued to silently judge drinkers and smokers, and especially “druggies” until I was probably in my mid-twenties. At some point I started meeting people who did all these things I loathed so much, and realized they were not bad people.
The point is, let’s consider those 30,000 medical users in Montana. I find it highly unlikely that 93% of them (the 28,000 we’re trying to remove) are in fact using medical marijuana as an excuse to simply get high. I’ll grant you some of those people are probably abusing the system. But how many others have to suffer in order to keep the abuse down? Why do we have to punish the innocent in order to serve justice? Why can’t we let the potheads just smoke themselves into idiocy if they want? As long as they haven’t actually hurt anybody else, why are we criminalizing the simple activity of smoking weed?
Let’s look at Alex’s situation. He is not terminally ill. There is no way we could prove that he’s in any significant pain because he cannot tell us, and his behaviors are still a mystery to every doctor we’ve ever seen. He will not qualify for medical marijuana if the feds have their way with Oregon. Alex should not have to suffer because we want to have ridiculously restrictive laws that are meant to keep people from abusing their own bodies.
I am hoping that California can once again make a strong push in 2012 to get some real cannabis reform. We need to stop telling people how to live their lives when the only damage they’re doing is to themselves.
Cannabis cannot kill. It doesn’t cause aggression of any kind. It doesn’t lead to violence. “Cannabis-related violence” is due to its monetary value, not due to an after-effect of use. By some accounts (even the U.S. government’s ) it has the possibility to be extremely beneficial for cancer patients.
Cannabis absolutely does have downsides. Excessive use definitely seems to lead to “oddness” in people. Getting high while there’s anything important to do (operate machinery, watch children at a pool, drive, etc) can be very dangerous indeed. But so can alcohol, cell phones, and even depression.
We have to stop criminalizing all the what-ifs — maybe a smoker will do something dumb, but we can’t throw them in jail “just in case”. We may as well try to pass a law that requires no less than 7 hours of sleep each night based on the fact that some people who don’t get enough sleep end up driving recklessly the next day. Laws are supposed to be there to protect our rights. So why do we punish pot smokers? Whose rights are they violating?
A fully regulated cannabis industry would create jobs. It would help sick people. It would drive the price of cannabis down, even if it were heavily taxed, making it far less profitable for criminals. It would generate revenue for the government. Not to be selfish, but it would make a world of difference for my little boy.
Is it really worth criminalizing it just to keep people from doing something that’s considered morally wrong? Is it really worth the deaths of so many in the drug wars just to keep some idiot from wasting his life away on the sofa?