Think for a minute about alcohol. It’s something we are well accustomed to in our every day lives. We associate it with celebrations, parties, relaxation, and many other things that involve leisure. What else do we associate alcohol with? How about drunk driving and the deaths that occur as well. The thought of alcoholism and the destruction of the body as well families might spring in to mind. Now think about marijuana. Pot is something we all have been taught is next to sin. ” Pot will make you stupid and lazy. ” “Pot will ruin your life.
These might be a few examples of phrases that accompany the mentioning of the marijuana in any context, and the government has spent a lot of time and money in keeping it that way. They have also kept up a strict policy of administering jail time to any persons caught using or in possession of the drug. Should someone be imprisoned for having a beer ? A night of drunkenness beats down on the body far worse than marijuana (Fortgang 53). The little ill effects the drug possesses is why marijuana should be decriminalized.
When I say decriminalized, I don’t mean legalized. Politicians should at most in a case involving pot issue a fine, not years and years of a persons life in prison. The hard facts about the drug marijuana are quite different to the beliefs of the U. S. society. The way it actually alters the brain, and it’s addictiveness are quite minor. The chemical THC is what does the majority of the work when someone smokes marijuana. This chemical borrows the pathway of molecularly similar neurotransmitters in the brain called anandamides.
The THC sits in the receptors for a time, making use of already functioning neural systems. Many studies have been preformed to determine if pot smokers are less intelligent than non-smokers. The Lancet which is Great Britain’s leading medical journal, has not found much difference at all between the I. Q. ‘s of both groups. Scientists do agree that pot has temporary cognitive effects lasting up to 24 hours after being smoked, but these disappear soon after leaving a normal mental state. This is similar to the effects of alcohol.
The addictiveness of pot is ranked considerably lower than alcohol or nicotine. It falls in the area of caffeine which is very weak. In a study by the University of California of pot smokers who engaged daily for at least 70 months, only 16% of the subjects experienced withdrawal symptoms when asked to stop for a time. The symptoms included minor tension, sleeplessness, and appetite changes. The only proven ill effects are the effects that a cigarette smoker would contract, such as lung and heart problems.
Although people think that pot can be deadly, it has never been credibly linked to a single death through overdose or acute toxicity (Fortgang 53, 101). The gov’t has continually tried to cover up these findings making false, uneducated, and absurd claims. When Reagan came into the presidency he took a hard stance against pot. His officials claimed that researchers viewed pot as the most dangerous drug in existence. Carlton Turner who was Reagan’s leading anti-drug advocate, believed that marijuana was the cause of the youths involvement in anti-authority campaigns.
He even made the claim that the drug could transform young men into homosexuals. These claims were all made in the name of demonizing the drug. With all the money spent by the gov’t on marijuana research producing no significant reasons to keep the drug illegal, these claims were necessary. Necessary to keep the taxpayers from seeing their hard earned poured into a lost cause (Schlosser 49). The money involved in pot arrests is astounding. In 1997 roughly 695,000 people were arrested for pot. This is the largest number of arrests for the drug in U. S. history.
The cost of those arrests not including the cost of imprisonment after conviction hovered just over $3 billion dollars. Total spending for war on pot for this year is estimated to reach $17 billion, an all time record (Schlosser 47). The punishments that a pot user may be subject to are also quite strong. These range from 10 to life in prison sentences that usually include huge fines. The future does not look any easier for people busted. Many representatives are motioning to make the sentences equal to those for possessing or selling cocaine or heroin.
Rep. Newt Gingrich is pushing for mandatory life sentences or even the death penalty for anyone who possesses two ounces of the drug. Almost 500 federal benefits are denied to people convicted of pot use. These include small-business loans, professional licenses, public housing, and food stamps. A federally mandated program that currently exists in twenty states calls for the suspension of a persons driving license after any conviction involving marijuana regardless of where the person was caught (Schlosser 50).
This means that a smoking a joint on the couch at home with the car parked safely in the drive way leads to a harsher punishment than a person arrested for drunk driving. Student loan eligibility is also revoked for a year or until that person completes drug rehabilitation. Three time offenders loose their eligibility forever while murderers and rapists never loose the chance to receive gov’t money for their education (Schlosser 51) Political hipocracy is another aspect of this issue that should be known.
Many of the gov’t officials who are die-hard against marijuana have pulled political favors to relieve people of the punishments they push for. Many of these people include the sons of these men. In 1982 the son of future Secretary of State James Baker II sold pot to an undercover cop on the family ranch. Instead of receiving 20 years in prison as state law prescribes, he was fined only $2,000 because of his father’s influence. The Representative of Indiana Dan Burton was one who pushed for the death penalty for those caught dealing marijuana.
Burton’s son was caught transporting 8 pounds of marijuana, and while awaiting trial his son was found in his apartment with 30 marijuana plants. He received only community service and 2 years probation. In 1996 the son of Representative of California Randy Cunningham was caught trafficking 400 pounds of pot from California to Massachusetts. While under arrest the son confessed to being involved in a drug ring that has shipped over ten tons of marijuana throughout the U. S. The Rep. Managed to reduce his son’s life sentence to 2 years.
It might have been a shorter sentence if his son had not tested positive for cocaine 3 times while out on bail (Schlosser 50, 52). It seems that having a father in a high place is a good thing. These stories are also great examples of how the men who impose these laws are focused on public display rather than self and lawful integrity. The government does not realize the irrationality and unfairness of their imposed consequences until they experience the punishments up close. In all, the war on pot is a more negative situation that positive.
It wastes money, sacrifices excessive amounts of time in the lives of people, and is not taken seriously even by the men who advocate it. The best solution is decriminalization. In the 70’s, the 11 states who did decriminalize marijuana experienced no rise in crime of any kind (Schlosser 49). Scarce prison cells should be reserved for violent criminals, not pot smokers. Impose fines and create a little revenue for the state, not spend it all trying to eradicate a substance that is less harmful than the alcohol we consume everyday.