I have been hesitant about publishing this post. Why? Because by expressing the following opinions on this topic I run the risk that some readers will file me away as a characature of Cheech and Chong, just another pothead fool.
Let me be explicit: the support I have for legalization comes from a desire to save taxpayer money, both by imposing taxes on the market for this plant and by reducing the burden on our criminal justice system. I have no desire to consume marijuana, legal or otherwise.
The continued drug "war" against this particular plant has, at great cost, done nothing to reduce it's use. The environmental site EcoSalon has just published a well reasoned article addressing several common arguments used to justify making the Cannabis plant illegal to grow. A few highlights:
Myth: Won’t people just be able to go to hemp fields and gather plants for getting high?
The fact is, hemp is so low in THC that you’d have to smoke a ridiculously, nauseatingly large amount of it to get high. No one would even bother. Trust me.
Myth: Farming hemp for fiber could turn into a coverup for growing potent marijuana.
Anyone trying to hide their potent strains of marijuana amidst the fields of hemp would be wasting their time: the plants cross-pollinate and always result in weaker strains. Any experienced marijuana grower would keep their plants far, far away from a hemp field.
Myth: Legalizing marijuana would create a druggie free-for-all.
Not so. The Netherlands legalized marijuana for recreational purposes in the 1970s and statistically they have less marijuana use and abuse than the United States. Marijuana is sold in coffee shops and the “thrill” of doing something illegal has been taken out of it. Also, cannabis smokers never have to do business with a “drug dealer,” which means they’re not exposed to other, potentially harder drugs.
Myth: Marijuana prohibition keeps it out of the hands of our youth.
Wrong again. Despite the War On Drugs, marijuana has remained easily available to high schoolers for decades, usually because it is sold to them by their own fellow students. If marijuana were legalized, it would be regulated in much the same way as alcohol, sold only in certain types of shops and require an age limit to purchase. This would certainly make it more difficult for young people to acquire.