By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Kudos and applause for the States of Washington and Colorado for their bravery in ending the government’s war against recreational use of marijuana. Rhode Island and Maine today introduced legislation to do the same thing. It would appear the dominoes are falling and the law is finally catching up with reality. A lot of people smoke pot and do just fine. Ruining lives with arrest, forced treatment, and opportunities lost just to give you something to brag about as you swig your beer is nothing to raise a toast to. It is about time, the criminal justice system got out of people’s lives and let them do what they responsibly elect as consenting adults.
But legalizing marijuana is the wrong solution. It is the wrong solution because Marijuana is not the problem. It is just a big face to the plague that is the Drug War. What is wrong is needing to be ended, State by State if necessary, is the drug war itself. We have to stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars to ruin millions of lives, keep entire nations at war with drug cartels, inflict immeasurable losses to fundamental constitutional rights, just to keep tens of thousands employed in law enforcement and criminal enterprises. For what? You talk about a fiscal cliff. The Drug War is such a huge piece of every state and the entire federal budget; a cancer infecting nearly every department and agency and it never ends. Our nation’s longest war is a colossal failure. Besides, you don’t go to war against inanimate objects. War is action against people; our People. The American People. We are broke and can no longer afford to keep torturing our own because we don’t like their choice of drug.
Yes, I just advocated for the legalization of all drugs; heroin cocaine methamphetamine – name your poison. Legalization is what it will take to end the horror we inflict upon our friends and neighbors in the name of some absurd morality. But but but … I can hear it now and have heard it all before.
Let me summarize the whole damn argument in 2 simple sentences. There is not a drug-free prison anywhere in the United States. If we cannot keep drugs out of our nation’s most secure police controlled environments, how will we ever keep drugs out of a free society? (Don’t even get me started on Charlie Manson getting caught – twice – with a cell phone).
Real quick; there is a difference between drug use and drug abuse. It is the same difference between the casual social drinker and the alcoholic. Yes, alcohol is a terrible drug but people who use it to the point where they lose control of their lives are seen as having a legal disability and can get treatment. The guy who drinks a sixer after work and pays all his bills and is a burden to nobody is left alone; even if he does it every single day of his life. If a person can use their drug of choice (and its only their choice because it works) responsibly to the detriment to nobody but themselves, it aint nobody’s business if they do. If they lose control of their lives, then it is a health and education issue and not a criminal justice issue. The cost is 1/7 of using law enforcement. Every person reading this essay knows someone or knows someone who knows someone who can probably get them any drug they wanted. That is reality.
“So Mark, what’s wrong with legalizing marijuana? Cant that just be seen as ‘babysteps’?” At a certain level, that is a valid argument. If we are going to question the credibility of everything the government has been telling us the past 40 years, then maybe we should slowly put our toes in the water before we advance to the next stage. Frankly, I couldn’t disagree more.
With every good idea, there is always blowback. Legislation especially is prone to unforeseen and unexpected results. Not all of them are positive. I see a very dark and dangerous risk of winning the battle but losing the war. In the end, legalizing marijuana is going to not solve the problem of the drug war. I believe it could make it worse.
Boiled down to its gravy, the danger is that once pot heads get their drug, they will turn their back on the rest of the their current allies and drift away in a purple haze. They will forget the pain, the stress, the danger, the inconsistency, and the outrageous prices that used to exist when “their” drug was illegal. With legalizing marijuana will dilute the voice of the anti Drug War movement to a mere whisper.
It starts with one of the great lies of the Drug War. “Marijuana is a gateway drug and will draw people into harder more dangerous drugs.” First of all, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003, nicotine is the consistent and long recognized true gateway drug found in all later drug use. Instead the statistics seem to bear out the conclusion that marijuana is more of a filter than a gateway. Though most people who later use “hard” drugs likely did start their drug experience with marijuana, data bears out that these folks would have been attracted to these drugs regardless of with which drug they started. The numbers show moreso that marijuana acts as a filter for drug users where most people who start with marijuana may meander around and experiment but seem to come back and settle for marijuana. Only one tenth of the drug using community supposedly use drugs other than marijuana. Of course, possession being a crime, data is not very reliable because who really is going to admit their drug use to the government surveyor.
With the vast majority of illegal drug users being potheads, if the national trend continues and marijuana is legalized everywhere, we will never get around to fixing the problem. The political and interest will be filtered by the marijuana effect. I am happy pot is being legalized. But, that buzz has to be killed. It is the War on Drugs, the War on Americans, that has to stop. It is not the drug, it is the policy that must change. Anything less is surrender.