Well, it is 4/20, and as I understand it, this is an important and symbolic date for advocates of legalization of marijuana.
Since I myself have also long favored an end to the marijuana prohibition, it seemed fitting to devote at least one blog entry today to this subject.
Marijuana became illegal just as the Prohibition itself was starting to fall apart at the seams, as a clear disaster that was not working anyway.
Much like with alcohol, the arguments for prohibition were largely baseless, and very unscientific. In the article below (I strongly recommend taking a look), we find out that a man named Harry Anslinger had become head of the Department of Prohibition, but he was nervous about how badly the major Prohibition was going at the time.
Then, he found a new culprit: cannabis.
Predictably, it was argued on a greatly exaggerated basis. Johann Hari summed it up pretty well in this article:
First, you will fall into “a delirious rage.” Then you will be gripped by “dreams… of an erotic character.” Then you will “lose the power of connected thought.” Finally, you will reach the inevitable end-point: “Insanity.”
Yup. Marijuana makes you behave like a criminal and a lunatic, and no good, solid citizen would want that, right?
And back then, as now, Mexico became a convenient scapegoat for this imported drug. The pressure was turned on, and it became illegal in the United States and, eventually, even in Mexico.
While all of that was the better part of a century ago, the laws remain in effect still to this day, although they have been significantly relaxed. Many states legalized medical marijuana, and eight states made recreational marijuana legal, as well. Certain countries decriminalized it as well, including Canada, the Netherlands, and Uruguay.
By all accounts thus far, legalization has not been a disaster. In both Colorado and Washington, it has garnered significant revenues, which have topped $1 billion. And all hell did not break loose. In fact, it seems that this experiment was largely successful. The same could be said elsewhere in places that have tried it.
Yet, some top officials in the Trump administration are threatening to take serious action, essentially warning of a crackdown. Of course, Trump has been setting the clock back across the country in numerous ways, so it is hardly surprising that he would do the same with the so-called "War on Drugs," which most people are beginning to recognize as a failure. This is a particularly sore subject when it comes to marijuana, which detractors call a "gateway drug," but which evidence suggests is actually not addictive or nearly as damaging as opponents would have you believe. In fact, there are some serious health benefits to cannabis, and these should not be overlooked.
It appears that we are at a crossroads right now. Voters in Colorado and Washington, as well as eight other states, have chosen to legalize it, and there very well may be more to come, as the lack of the utter chaos that opponents predicted has not come to pass. But Trump and his team want a crackdown, and seem to have no problem with all of the people unfairly imprisoned for possession of marijuana, which is a non-violent offense, but which nonetheless often carries with it stiff penalties and lengthy stays behind bars, not to mention a record.
This is one of the key issues right now, because the benefits of legalizing marijuana seem to increase over time. We know that there are outright health benefits from the drug, and there is growing evidence that it might help with cancer. Also, there are numerous other purposes that this plant can be used for, as well. It can be made into better quality paper, and the detrimental impact that this has on the environment is much, much less than paper made from trees! Also, good quality clothes can be made from it. There are other uses that we can get from it, as well.
The science and logic aspects certainly seem to be on the side of those who advocate legalizing it. Naturally, Trump and his anti-science administration stand opposed to it. After all, the facts do not matter to them.
But this is too important an issue. So many things can be improved from legalization, including the "War on Drugs," less people in the for profit prison system, better quality medical care, recreational use, a healthier planet because of the lesser impact of paper made from cannabis, and decent quality clothes. All of this is key, and it hardly matters that Trump or other parties with a vested interest (such as the paper and tobacco industry) stand firmly opposed. Like with so many other things, the prohibition of marijuana is an outdated dinosaur of a belief that really has no basis in facts, and there are age old, ugly prejudices attached to it, as well. The list of reasons for why we should legalize it has grown, while the arguments against it have not only failed to grow, but most have largely been disproven.
We need to legalize it already!
Please take a look at the article below, which goes into the history of why it was rendered illegal in the first place:
Why is marijuana banned in some states? The real reasons are worse than you think Johann Hari, 19 APR 2017: