Like Rap Music and Twerking, I Don’t Get the Legalize-Pot Movement

So marijuana isn’t dangerous anymore?

The writing is on the wall, it seems. Pot is going mainstream.

The momentum seems to be squarely behind the efforts of those who advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Twenty states have medical marijuana dispensaries, including New Jersey. Two states have legalized recreational use and 11  states plus DC have pledged their support for the House of Representatives bill “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013,” which would prohibit the federal government from interfering with a state’s marijuana laws. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder called the governors of Colorado and Washington to let them know that the Department of Justice would leave those states alone, for now, concerning their recreational use laws.

Like rap music and twerking, here’s something else I have to live with that I just don’t understand.

I’m a baby-boomer and a mother so I come at this issue with that baggage. Let’s start with the baby boomer piece. Drugs were a defining hallmark of the baby boomer era, for sure, and we knew there was a certain “hierarchy” to drug use; pot was not so bad, heroin was really bad and there was lots of stuff in the middle. We knew, though, that even though it was on the less harmful side of the spectrum, it was still an illegal and unregulated substance; a “gateway” drug that lead to stronger, more serious drug abuse. So what happened? It’s not bad anymore?

Here’s the mom part. My college-age daughter tells me it’s nothing to worry about.

“All my friends smoke weed,” she says, “and no one is moving on to heroin or flunking out of school. It’s just not a big deal anymore.”

Overall drug use for the 12-to-17-year-old age group has declined almost 12 percent in the last 10 years while marijuana use has been climbing since 2008. So, what does that mean?

Maybe daughter is right and pot smoking isn’t the sinister gateway drug to needles and crack pipes. But does that make it an any less harmful and unregulated a substance? Each year about 1,825 college age students between the ages of 18 and 25 die from alcohol-related injuries. I don’t know how many die from marijuana related injuries (what would that be anyway, falling off the couch?) but 374,000 Americans 12 and older enter emergency rooms with a primary marijuana problem so equating drinking and marijuana use doesn’t exactly set my worries at ease.

A new marijuana breathalyzer is being developed to determine impairment as an aid to law enforcement in traffic stops and apparently, the strength and chemical content of marijuana can, in fact, be regulated at the growing stage. So, like alcohol and cigarettes, it looks like pot can be regulated and, therefore, can be legalized—even though it is associated with dependence, respiratory illness, poor motor performance and impaired cognitive and immune system functioning. Studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Oh hell, so does parenting.

I give up. Just no rap or twerking, okay?

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  • joshuascottalbert

    Did you really just link to the White House ?

  • Nick Vadala

    Well, to be fair, marijuana has never been dangerous in 5,000 years of recorded human use. It’s just our perception of it that’s changing.

  • Bill Griggs

    Beth, I have daughters too that I hope don’t smoke pot. My oldest is in college and I don’t believe she has. I am 150% for legalizing though. I’ve handled literally thousands of pounds worth of pot cases as an attorney. I’ve handled well over 2,000 criminal cases over the years. I see the problems drugs like meth and Oxycontin and heroin and so on cause. Aside from the drug crimes, these substances are so addictive and addicts are stealing like crazy to get more drugs, checks, committing forgeries, whatever. These drugs are behind a lot of crime. Alcohol is behind the vast majority of violent crime and all sorts of other drunk stupid criminal conduct. Marijuana though, other than a few DWI cases most all marijuana crime arises out of the fact that it is illegal.

    I’m not saying marijuana is harmless, but the fact is that it is not such a threat and it is way too popular to ban, just like alcohol during our failed experiment with alcohol prohibition. The prohibition of marijuana causes every problem caused by alcohol prohibition and more. At least the Al Capone types all their underlings weren’t offering their booze customers cocaine and meth and so on. That’s the only reason pot is any worse as a gateway drug than alcohol and tobacco, both gateway drugs. People buy their pot from the same black market where all these other drugs are sold. Even if their pot dealer doesn’t offer them the other stuff, somebody they know got some from their pot dealer or someone and will offer it to them because they are “cool,” meaning they’re violating drug laws too and won’t say anything.

    Pot is everywhere. For the most part it’s cheaper than beer on a per use basis. Older teens have been reporting for years on government surveys that it is as easy or easier for them to obtain pot than alcohol. According to date from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health over half of all American adults under 65 have already smoked pot. Americans consume tens of thousands of tons of it every single years. Government estimates for all the cocaine meth and heroin consumed in this country in a year only add up to a few hundred tons combined.

    The black market for drugs is mostly a black market for pot. Most producing illegal drugs produce pot. Most who smuggle drugs smuggle pot. Most bigger dealers are dealing in pot. Most mid level dealers down the line and retail dealers are dealing in pot. Most illegal drug buyers are buying pot. If we take pot out of the black market for illegal drugs, there will be millions and millions fewer participants. The black market would shrink by several orders of magnitude. And guess what, it’s going to be harder for drug cartels to reach potential end consumers of their hard stuff because they won’t have the existing marijuana networks to run it through anymore. People will buy their pot from pot shops that wouldn’t sell meth just like liquor stores wouldn’t because the police would be there in no time. How often do you think people call the cops now and say, “my pot dealer offered me cocaine?”

    Beth, most everybody who wants to smoke pot is already smoking it. Precious few leave it alone simply because it’s illegal. There are plenty of good reasons not to smoke pot that would not go away if we legalize it. Those reasons are what keeps most in the Netherlands from smoking pot. They’ve been selling it from shops with permits there since 1976. People can buy it, use it, even grow a little at home without fear of arrest, yet a smaller percentage of their population than here even tries it. It just has limited appeal. And the idiots people worry about, they’re already smoking it. We shouldn’t worry much about the tiny few who don’t just because it’s not legal because those people have already shown us they are basically law abiding citizens with self control.

    Legalization will happen and it should happen. We will be better off as a nation because of it. The sky will not fall in. In fact, in time most will look at the prohibition of marijuana like the prohibition of alcohol, as a big mistake that ended up doing way more harm than good.

  • Jillian Galloway

    Every person that chooses to use marijuana casts a vote for legalization. The increase in marijuana use reported recently is not so much a “problem that has to be fixed” as it is the voice of millions of American voters telling the government that they want marijuana to be put on the same legal footing as alcoholic beverages.

    Alcohol causes liver disease, heart disease, brain damage, violence, cancer, and kills 80,000 people/year in the U.S. Marijuana, on the other hand, does none of these things. We could prevent a lot of the harm that alcohol causes by giving people the right to choose marijuana instead of alcohol. People should NOT be arrested for wanting to make the safer choice!

  • gcat

    I really enjoyed your links to the studies that link MJ use with poor immune systems, dependence, anxiety and depression. Oh it was just from an unsourced sentence from a White House website? Good journalism.

  • Brian Kelly

    What message are we sending our children when it is easier for them to obtain marijuana now with it being illegal than it is for them to buy alcohol?

    It doesn’t take the intellect of a genius to understand that stores card kids for I.D.. Thugs and gang members do not. They also push the real hard drugs on children. Stores do not.

    Marijuana legalization will make it harder for children to obtain it.

    What message does it send our children when the President of The United States himself alongside a long list of successful people openly admit regular pot use at one time or another in their lives while we tell our kids how it will ruin their futures, and then ensure so by allowing our government to send our kids to jail and give them permanent criminal records when they get caught with a little marijuana? Especially if they are the wrong skin color or from the “wrong neighborhood”. Which in turn, ruins their chances of employment for life.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana is the wrong message to send our children while we advertise and promote the much more dangerous use of alcohol like it’s an all American pastime.

    The worst thing about marijuana and our children is what happens to them when they get caught up in the criminal justice system due to it’s prohibition.

    The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions of more dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to prison and are being given permanent criminal records, which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is way safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    It is also safer than tobacco and caffeine. Marijuana is one of the safest and healthiest recreational substance known to man.

    The government should not attempt to legislate morality because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    The problem is that in the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are stoners and dopers that need to be incarcerated to protect society.

    In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their god given duty to worry about saving us all from the evils of marijuana use.

    Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of a glass of wine for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

    People who use marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

    Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make us out to be. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

    The President of The United States himself has confessed to his regular marijuana use during his college years, as has a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives. Has it hurt their chances at succeeding in life?

    If the President had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may very well have still been in jail today. Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record.

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    I am an educated 40 year old professional, and I am blessed with a wonderful family and life, and I’ve worked real hard for everything I have, but that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

    To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, glorifies, and advertises alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

    There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long, hard day, than having a glass a wine.

    So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to me that I can’t enjoy marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of my own home?

    I’ve worked hard my whole life to provide for my loved ones. I don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

    Has a marijuana user ever tried to FORCE you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force us not to either.

    Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon all of us with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think your such prohibitionist hypocrites.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!_

  • Clarissa

    No rap or twerking? C’mon now, that’s just racist.

  • herbalmagick

    1 out of 102 marijuana users goes on to become an habitual user of any “hard” drug. The “gateway” hypothesis has been debunked repeatedly.

    Alcohol is a toxic substance that kills 40,000 Americans every year (not counting traffic fatalities). In 5,000 years of recorded use, the death toll from marijuana remains at zero, Your daughter would be much safer joining her pot-smoking friends.

    The 374,000 Americans who appear in emergency rooms are those who mention marijuana at intake. The figure has nothing to do with people actually there for marijuana-related reasons. Getting your info from the NIDA is ludicrous. It’s an organization with a mandate to lie in order to deter people from using currently illegal drugs.

  • Sameer Dewan Esmail

    Most are sent there like alcoholics
    Drink to much and convulse
    Weed heads are safer, they just get a panic attack lol. Nothing to worry about. Would rather my son smoke pot everyday than drink once a week

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