Theodore R. Griffiths
Assoc. Opinion Editor
America is finally reaching a point where it must face itself and realize that most of the information it feeds its citizens is in error, and this era of the Internet has exposed them (although they seem to be turning that around on us too).
There was always a push from the government to classify marijuana as an addictive, brain-cell-killing, psychosis-inducing plant, but the realities could not be farther from the truth.
In fact, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which claims to sponsor 85 percent of the world’s research on controlled substances, has refused to do any significant research on marijuana use. I can only assume that this is why the American government, and many Americans up until this point, have had such an irrational view of marijuana.
The support for marijuana legalization is spreading to unknown territory at this point, with decorated war veteran and professional wax model John McCain even getting in on the fun. He was recently asked about the threat of Mexican drug cartels, and stated, “Let me just say what’s going on in Mexico, in my view, to some degree, is our responsibility… because we’re creating a demand for drugs in this country and when there’s a demand, there’s going to be a supply. Maybe we should legalize it, we are certainly moving that way so far as marijuana is concerned.”
With such a wide variety of people on board for the legalization of the plant, there is only one thing holding back progress: ignorant information from the government and the media.
A recent article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, written by Ruth Weissenborn and David J. Nutt, revealed that alcohol was considered to be more than twice as harmful as marijuana to individual users, and five times more harmful than marijuana to others in society. The article also revealed that health-related costs are eight times higher for alcohol users than they are for marijuana users. The even more shocking statistic is that medical costs are 40 times higher for tobacco users than they are for marijuana users.
Even with these facts, there are no questions being raised about the legality of tobacco or alcohol, and this is because both products bring in serious tax dollars to the government each year.
Obviously, those same tax laws can and will be applied to marijuana as each state legalizes it, but tax revenue alone is not as important as one may think. For instance, tax revenue on tobacco is around $17.5 million annually, while tax revenue on alcohol is only around $6 million annually according to the Tax Policy Center. The government won’t cover any kind of national debt with taxation of marijuana, but they can almost guarantee revenue close to that of alcohol.
The general consensus of the American people is a push for marijuana legalization, with many polls to show that. A Pew Research Center survey showed that 52 percent of Americans favored marijuana legalization, with only 45 percent saying it should not be legalized. A similar HuffPost/YouGov poll showed that 51 percent favored legalization, while only 33 percent said it shouldn’t be legalized at all.
Polls can only show so much, but now action is finally being taken in many states. Illinois became the 20th state with at least legal medical marijuana in early August, and it would not be farfetched to predict that more than half of the country will have some form of legal marijuana at this time next year.
Opponents of legal marijuana will still cite their spoon-fed by health class reasons, but reality will always trump fiction, and the reality is that anyone who drank this past weekend did more damage to their body than your resident hall neighbor that always leaves his room smelling like Snoop Lion.
With all the facts out in the open, and legitimate research being conducted to prove the benefits of marijuana and reveal the lies associated with it, there is no reason why America can’t move past its traditional conservatism and accept the reality of the situation. This country loves its guns, alcohol, and cigarettes, yet each of those things kill more people each year than marijuana. It is time to move out of the darkness and into the light, even if our eyes become bloodshot in the process.