As anyone that knows me can tell you, I have been known to, from time to time, enjoy a little herbal remedy. I have a good job. I am responsible. I don’t get into tussles. I don’t beat my dogs. The long and short of it is this: I live a good, responsible, functional life despite the fact that I enjoy dancing with Mary Jane every so often. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that my life is further enhanced by the presence of the bud in my life.
We all know that Michael Jackson died on Thursday. Now, I’m not going to get into some gigantic tribute aimed at the deceased King of Creep as I think he was overrated (much like Elvis and The Beatles). But his death, and the subsequent discussion regarding his possible dependence on prescription drugs, got me to thinking about something and I hope that it will spur your own thoughts as well, regardless of your personal stance on marijuana use.
Let me set the stage here. Prescription drugs are legal, am I correct? Sure you need to be given a prescription from your doctor (joke), but ultimately they are legal substances in some regard. Now, think back about all the celebrities that you can recall that have died because of some sort of deadly prescription drug cocktail. Elvis. Heath Ledger. Anna Nicole Smith. Michael Jackson. These are just the ones that immediately come to mind. Now, think about how many people die from the same combination of prescription drugs. Valium. Oxycotin. Vicodin. Xanex. Drugs that are prescribed with the best intentions but that have, when mixed, undesired consequences. Mix this with any type of alcohol consumption and you are clicking the stopwatch on your impending doom. While I don’t have any firm numbers, one can assume that if so many high-profile people are kicking the bucket because of prescription drug overdose, there are surely a significant amount of ordinary citizens doing the same thing.
Then of course there is alcohol. We all know alcohol is legal. How many times do you hear about someone dying due to an accident involving a drunken driver? Too many to count. How many times have you been out and seen people tussling because they are inebriated? Quite a few. How many times has alcohol made you do something stupid, embarassing, and often times, regretabble? I don’t know about you, but if I had a dollar for everytime this happened I could retire. How many people’s lives are spiraling out of control because of excessive alcohol consumption? I mean, just watch “Intervention” on A&E some time. Think about those things for a second. Alcohol is legal, despite the fact that it destroys lives and families and property. It is LEGAL.
Now, let’s talk about marijuana. How many times do you hear about someone dying because someone had smoked some bud and drove? None. How many times have you seen people tussling because they just smoked a joint? None. How many times has pot made you do something stupid, embarassing, and often times, regrettable? For me personally, never. And finally, how many people’s lives are spiraling out of control because they smoke pot? I don’t know any; do you? Marijuana is illegal despite the fact that it is, by all accounts, safer than alcohol. People do not overdose on marijuana. It does not make make you vomit. It does not give you a hangover. What it does do though is give you the munchies. It can make you giggle. It can give you a fantastic night’s sleep. It can spur creativity. It can bond a group of people as everyone passes to the left (to the left, to the left).
Considering what I just told you, what sense does it make that marijuana remains illegal? Never mind the fact that it could be a huge economic coup for many parts of the country. Never mind the fact that it could save millions, if not billions, of dollars on policing and the “War on Drugs.” Never mind the fact that it could save lives as the Mexican drug cartels would lose a valuable, and often deadly, product for export. Never mind these things, even though each point above adds more fuel to the legalization fire. Focus instead on the safety of marijuana vs. prescription drugs and alcohol. Marijuana by itself is not going to kill you. Marijuana mixed with alcohol is not going to kill you. With that in mind, do you think that people would, instead of relying on prescription drugs for recreational use, enjoy a joint or rip off the bong if marijuana were legal? Do you think instead of trying to get high via deadly combination of drugs that these people might visit a hash bar instead and finish the night with a piece of chocolate cake, instead of finishing the night in a body bag? There is no way of knowing for certain, but I contend (and I suspect you may agree on some level) that legalizing marijuana may prevent such tragic events in many cases.
Like all substances, the key is education and moderation. Regardless of the substance, someone somewhere is going to abuse it. It is, unfortunately, part of the human condition for addicts. But much like we educate on alcohol abuse and drinking and driving, our society could easily do the same for marijuana. Further, many of the same laws that apply to alcohol would apply to marijuana, thus encouraging moderation. If the problems of addicts, who are the minority by the way, dictated what is legal and not legal, shouldn’t alcohol be illegal?
So, to me, it doesn’t make any sense as to why it remains illegal. I suspect part of it is societal fear perpetuated by the ultra-Christian right wingers that have been in control of this country for so long. I also suspect that the people that rail against ganja are people that have never touched it a day in their lives. This, of course, further adds to the culture of fear. And, like all substances, if you don’t want to do it, then don’t do it. Period. People choose not to drink all the time; people can choose not to smoke bud if they wish. But just because you choose not to do it doesn’t mean that the rest of us should be subjected to your narrow-minded views about something that ultimately doesn’t hurt anyone.
If you know someone that has died of a marijuana overdose, I’d like to hear it. If you know someone whose life has been destroyed by smoking pot, and just smoking pot, I’d like to hear it (and I don’t want to hear about it being a “gateway” drug unless you are of the opinion that alcohol should be made illegal as well). Marijuana is, in and of itself, safe, effective, and a whole lot of fun. If you can prove otherwise as a whole, and not as an exception, I would listen with open ears, but let me smoke a few bowls first.
A bag of weed, a bag of weed. Everything’s better with a bag of weed.
–Brian and Stewie