There has been much discussion the last few years about legal weed. With many states enacting various pro-marijuana laws over the last 10 years (or more, for a select few) and in the more recent past, some states adding recreational use, debate rages across the land. Legalization, decriminalization, medical use, the options for not making felons out of the hippie next door and the vast array of options available to states-these are all points that must be considered. It is an issue fraught with opinions and limited research. Whether you smoke pot or not, it won't be long before there will be some type of marijuana legislation in your state. As a freedom lover and a capitalist, a free-market type of gal, I am excited for the prospect of it becoming legal in my home state. It is important that folks understand marijuana, the choices states face when changing their laws, how best to enact these changes so they are actually beneficial and how to provide a fair and reasonable path to that end.
It is my plan to provide a multi-part post over the next few days to provide some evidence for legalization in my state of Missouri. I think my state legislature should take up not only marijuana legislation, but also industrial hemp. I think it is important for many reasons. If you believe in freedom, it's important. If you believe in capitalism, it's important. If you want to protect the environment and find new, renewable resources, it's important. If you want to fill the state coffers with tax revenue from industry and create jobs, it's important. If you would like to see less folks get dragged into the criminal justice system, it's important. There is no reason why the left and the right can't get behind this movement TOGETHER.
A couple of points today, then I'll leave you to be excited and open minded about the information forthcoming on these pages-of which there will be plenty!
First, I don't smoke pot. I have.....oh yes, in my youth I was quite the pot smoker. And so what? I gave it up in my 20's. I had a couple of kids. I had a good job. I started my own business. I just simply had other things I wanted to do. That was the choice I made, because it was right for me. When the girls were young, I crusaded against drugs of all types, as parents generally do. Did I feel hypocritical? Nope. Not in the least. As a parent, you always set limits on your kids. I also didn't encourage or tolerate under-age drinking or fast driving either. I didn't harp on the illegality of pot, because I always felt it being illegal was a non-starter, but I did point out the limits it would set on their life and, just like an alcoholic, if you (or someone you love) is dependant on any substance, it will send your life down a path you might not want. One of the more infamous lines in our household is "Choose your life, don't let it happen to you." In this debate I do think there is reasonable room for discussing age as a factor in the laws. But, just as most people I know don't want the government raising their kids, it is up to the parents to instill the core values they believe are right for their family in their kids. You do it with family, you do it with futures, you do it with alcohol......you already do it with drugs. Changing the law changes nothing when it comes to raising your kids.
Second, I know lots of pot smokers. Tons. Some are business men and women, in professional positions. Some are lazy bums, with no job and no prospects. I wouldn't want them to be a big part of my life. What does this prove? That just like people you know in life, pot smokers are a large, diverse part of society. I guarantee at least one neighbor of yours smokes pot occasionally. Most likely there is someone within a 10 block radius of you that grows pot in their basement. And your doctor smokes it. Or banker. Or financial advisor. Probably a couple of teachers in your kids school. And, yes, that guy you work with, his brother-in-law that can't quite seem to get off the couch and get a job, he is just as likely to be a pot smoker as not......but frankly, pot isn't that guys problem. There is no good, clear-cut evidence that people like that wouldn't be bums, without motivation or prospects, even absent pot. This is very important. I also find the research pointing to lower IQ's and test scores to be suspect at best. And, the fact is, there are likely things we non-pot smokers do that aren't good for our bodies, our brains or our lives, everyday that are totally legal. Does watching too much TV make you less smart? Does spending too much time on the Internet slow down your ability to think? Does all that sitting and relaxing you're doing make you less healthy? I mean seriously, as adults, we all make choices everyday on how we want to live our lives. I don't put much weight on those studies because I know too many people who are extremely intelligent, are super motivated and have everything going for them that smoke pot. If they are slightly less than they could have been, who cares. They are still much more than I will ever be. It is not societies prerogative to decide how much of our potential we should live up to. Conversely, there are plenty of people who never smoke pot that don't live up to their full potential-because they don't want to.
Finally, there are lots of choices that need to be made when debating the issue of legal weed and hemp. It is important you know the difference. It is also important to realize you can have one without the other, if you so choose and it is easy to tell the difference. Of note, if you do your research you will also find that allowing industrial hemp does not in fact lead to rampant weed growing. They are different crops and a good pot grower wouldn't be caught dead growing their prize pot-crop next to a field of hemp. Also, when considering the issue there are varying degrees of legalization including, decriminalization (better than nothing), medical use (kind of silly), home grows (excellent), retail sales (creates a government run cartel), and full out legalization (mostly good). These all present with positives and negatives, like anything else, and it is up to us to decide what is going to work best in our state. Don't worry, I will clarify my positions briefly shown above in later posts. This just gives you a peek at what I think. Also, don't send me a bunch of hate comments on the medical use remark up there. I don't think it is silly because I don't believe it works-I know it has many medicinal uses. I think it is silly because medical use only encourages people to go ahead and be law breakers. It sets up a system of people trying to skirt silly laws to get what they want. Can you imagine if we required that people have a medical reason for growing tomatoes or drinking booze? I mean, who cares what ones reason for smoking pot is-either it should be legal or not in the eyes of the law. We don't need to put people in ridiculous positions when simply allowing it lets medical and recreational users alike be law abiding citizens.
I will leave you with this: I have a very liberal (and I know, radical) position that ALL drugs should be legal. However, for the purposes of this series I am sticking to the evil weed. I think it is the least offensive and most widely used, and I think it has a lot of value beyond just gettin' stoned and eating Twinkies. I hope you'll take the evidence I present to heart and really evaluate from a strong position, your stance on reefer.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts too!