December 12, 2012

I Guess It’s Not Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Okay, okay. I feel like it is time I weigh in on the marijuana debates happening right now. With the recent laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Washington and Colorado, so much has been reported on it. Just last week, redOrbit explained the major debate: marijuana is still considered a schedule 1 controlled substance by federal law; this makes it illegal by federal law, which trumps state law in this case…or does it?

Perhaps this is one of those instances when the federal government needs to reevaluate a law.  When prohibition of alcohol was instituted, eventually the states came together to work on overturning the law because it was so dangerous and such a detriment. Marijuana is no different. The only real danger it poses is legality. In fact, in the past decade, several states have legalized marijuana for medical use because it has been proven to help with certain diseases and issues including cancer, eye disease, migraines, and muscle issues.

What is most frustrating about marijuana is that alcohol and cigarettes are legal, yet they pose greater health and safety issues than does pot. Marijuana has been found to help certain ailments while alcohol only provides minimal benefits, and smoking tobacco provides no benefits. Somehow, though, these two narcotics are legal. Riddle me that?

I am not a pot head who just wants to legalize my favorite vice; I’m not a pot heat at all. I am not making my arguments based on my own desires. In fact, I do not really care about marijuana. I do, however, care about hypocrisy, and that is rampant in the alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana worlds. How alcohol and cigarettes are legal but marijuana is not just baffles me.

I just think that legalizing marijuana would be more positive than not. First of all, the government could tax the hell out of it. People would pay for it. I mean look at cigarettes. In some states, the tax is more than the actual cost of the product, yet people still smoke heavily. The same goes for alcohol; it too is highly taxed. But marijuana costs states in terms of legal costs as well as incarceration issues and costs. How many people are in prison right now because they smoked weed?

If marijuana was legal, the tax revenue from that could be pretty significant. That alone is worth the consideration. However, taxing is not the only reason to legalize it.

As I previously mentioned, marijuana has been used to help people with chronic illnesses such as glaucoma, migraines, fibromyalgia, cancer, and many others. Again, we see some hypocrisy. Morphine is a legal pain killer as long as patients have a prescription. Morphine is an opiate, you know like heroine is. No, they are not the same, but they are related narcotics. Marijuana, which can help with pain as well as appetite, is not addictive like morphine, and it actually helps people in more ways than just pain management. So beyond the financial benefits, it provides health benefits as well.

Finally, we must also think about the ethical dilemma. Mexico is entrenched in a pretty serious drug and gang war (not like America’s alleged “War on Drugs” mind you, but an actual war where people are dying over cartels and drug trafficking). The drug cartels are seriously dangerous and deadly. One of their drugs: marijuana. And where do most of their drugs go: America. Though I do not know that legalizing marijuana would absolutely abolish the drug cartels and their violence, I know that what we are doing right now is not helping at all. Why not try something different?

With the states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, Washington and Colorado that have legalized it for recreational purposes, and the towns, cities, and municipalities that have decriminalized marijuana, perhaps it is time for the federal government to step up and address this issue. Legalization could bring in economic and prison relief, help those with medical needs, maybe even positively contribute to Mexico’s drug violence, and who can forget the fact that if it were legal, perhaps then quality would be better controlled. No more lacing marijuana with other drugs because people could purchase it from legitimate and controlled stores.

Doesn’t all of this seem good? Shouldn’t the government maybe rethink the whole pot issue?

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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