Now that the election has come to a close (OBAMA, thank the lawd), the anything-but-politically-correct Twitter bashing/Facebook slandering is sure to follow suit. People will move on from Election 2012 and dip their opinionated fingers into another bowl of controversy. And if my predictions turn out to be correct, the next bowl will be filled with marijuana (pun pun pun). This isn’t some newly discovered topic that hasn’t already broken the argumentative surface–it’s weed, people! It’s a subject that everyone and their grandmother seems to have an opinion on: Should it be legalized in the United States?
*Disclaimer: I will try my hardest to remain objective and unbiased regarding the subject at hand throughout the entirety of this post. Apologies in advance if I mistakenly break this rule; I’m only
Dating back to the Prohibition Era, America is notorious for giving its citizens certain limitations that other countries do not even trouble themselves to formally acknowledge. Italian children are served red wine with dinner (please pass the Merlot). Amsterdam-bred individuals spend their evenings in downtown cafes eating space cakes while getting lost in ambiguous discussion (or so I’ve heard). It is the European way. I’m not arguing for or against either lifestyle; that’s a conversation devoid of any concrete direction or duration. What I do mean to argue is why marijuana has become a taboo topic in the U.S. Do we whisper the word “high” like our ancestors whispered the word “drunk”? (Rhetorical). Does our constant paranoia of being caught with red eyes fall in the same category as Americans’ past fears of having alcohol-stained breath? (Again, rhetorical). What turned alcohol into a conversation starter, or a business venture, or a make-shift therapy session? Why is marijuana any different?
Let’s compare the two from a medical perspective, just for fun.
Long-Term Effects (Chronic Users)
Disrupts normal brain development
Loss of coordination
Impaired memory/problem-solving skills
Increased heart rate
Long-Term Effects (Chronic Users)
May reduce the body’s ability to fight off infections
Coughing and wheezing
Prone to bronchitis
Complications during pregnancy
Increased levels of anxiety/depression
I went ahead and cited the most serious side effects of both by making them bold. As noted, long-term alcohol users are likely to develop alcoholism and possibly die from too much alcohol intake. Long-term users of marijuana are prone to increased levels of anxiety and depression, probably the most significant and evidentiary supported symptom of using the drug on a daily, recreational basis. Now someone, anyone, please help me understand this. How is it that alcohol, a substance that is directly linked to addiction and possibly death, is legally distributed throughout the United States; while marijuana, a drug that has similar side effects to prescription medication that is advertised on television and in magazines (you know, the ones with that cure one illness or disorder only to cause 7 other, more severe kinds. Ex: Viagra), is widely denounced and considered a crime of such illegal proportions that users and distributors caught in the U.S. can actually face jail time? Why is a 21-year-old given the freedom to go to a bar, drink past the legal limit, and get in his car; yet a different 21-year-old could potentially spend the night in a cell if he’s caught smoking a joint before bed? When did America consider it “legal” and “safer” for people to down alcohol on a Friday night rather than watch a movie and spark a blunt? I could go on and on with my condescending comparisons, but the fact still remains–alcohol is a more dangerous substance than marijuana, plain and simple.
And I’m certainly not the only one who feels this way. Most recently, a bill was passed in Colorado and Washington which makes the recreational use of marijuana completely legal. Before that, Massachusetts decriminalized the use and/or possession of marijuana and lifted the ban prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries. Before THAT, California became the mother of cannabis by opening up shop after shop, fully stocked with milkshakes and cookies in the front window and flavored pot in the back. Have these states gone mad, or are they finally seeing the light that has filled many a European room?
Look at the facts and decide for yourself. By no means am I encouraging people to go out there and make alcohol/drug abuse their #1 favorite pastime, but I want everyone to reconsider the misinterpreted, negative connotations associated with marijuana users. They’re not low-lives; they’re not degenerates; they’re not deadbeats. They are people who happen to smoke weed. Maybe they do it to relieve stress after a long day at the office, or to enjoy that chocolate fudge brownie just a little bit more. Maybe it’s none of your business. Just like we refrain from judging those who cork open a bottle of wine on a Wednesday afternoon, simply because it is deemed legal to do so, we should practice the same courtesy to those who roll a blunt on a Now 38 CD case.
Like I said, no judging.