Roger Marolt: Roger This
November 6, 2009
Marijuana is safer to use than alcohol. Yes, and driving 80 mph through a school zone at three in the afternoon is safer than doing it with the speedometer buried. Neither of these arguments has been proven absolutely true, but convincing evidence can be compiled to make each case.
So, it is no wonder that the former is one of the common arguments put forth in the quest to legalize pot. It is safer to be stoned than drunk.
Need proof? Nearly 18,000 people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents each year. Hundreds more die from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is toxic. Alcohol is addictive. Alcohol is a carcinogen. Alcohol abuse contributes to domestic violence and sexual assault. Alcohol is highly associated with other violent crimes. Alcohol is bad for your skin and makes you look older. Alcohol makes you fat. Alcohol has many long-term negative effects that are obvious to everyone, including dissolving the lacquer on the dining room table if you spill it there.
Try to find compelling negative evidence like this against pot. Smoldering roaches are known to leave burn marks in sofas, but other than that, you can’t. I tried. Never mind the difference in the size of sampling populations, however. In the United States it is estimated that 60 percent of the adult population consumes alcohol regularly, compared to only 6 percent being regular smokers of weed, and, as we all know, many of these people don’t even inhale. The truth is that we don’t know what kinds of long-term problems cannabis consumption might cause or contribute to if it was used regularly by a majority of our adult population. But, since we don’t know, I will concede that it isn’t fair to bring speculation into the discussion as a black mark against marijuana.
Just the same, there is a problem with the logic of using the evils of alcohol as evidence of why pot should be legalized. It’s stupid. While nobody in their right mind is going to dispute the problems with alcohol, wouldn’t it be far more logical to use the well-documented negative results to argue that it should be outlawed rather than arguing that another dangerous drug (yes, marijuana is a drug, and it is dangerous) should be legalized?
The horse is out of the barn with alcohol, so to speak. There is no way in hell that it will be outlawed again in this country for as long as Pyramid Peak stands above 14,000 feet, no matter how harmful it is proven to be. So, what is the smartest thing to do now that the ornery horse is on the run? Let it go. But, what sense does it make to let another horse out to follow along simply because this one is already on the run? If you let two go, why not three? Four? Why not just take the barn doors off their hinges? If you let go of the reins on marijuana now, what’s next? X? Cocaine? Meth? Heroine?
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Medical marijuana is the lead-in to legalizing pot. And, it’s a farce. If the issue with grass was an issue about medicine then we wouldn’t have dispensaries selling products named AK-47. We would sell it in pharmacies in little brown bottles; no lounges, flat-screen televisions, or pool tables in the sampling room. Tell me this: How can a doctor prescribe a medicine that they don’t have a good idea of how much of the active ingredient it contains and almost no idea of what else it has in it? What is the appropriate dosage of that? Patient, heal thy self!
Of course, proponents of legalizing the drug will be the first to tell us that pot is so harmless that monitoring its use carefully is not necessary. Really? Then why can’t you quit using it? I know; it’s because you don’t want to … and because it’s not harmful.
Most of this is beside the point, pot proponents tell us, though. There is an even bigger reason why pot should be legal. It’s because we are fighting a costly war on drugs that can’t be won. Aside from the emotional plea, here’s the logic in this argument: We’re losing the war, so let’s give up. OK, then, apply the same logic to other wars we are fighting and losing. How about the war on world hunger? Global warming? Poverty? Genocide? Racism? Hate? Heck, how about the war on wars? As far as I can tell, we’re not doing so well in any of these. Should we give them all up?
And if none of the other arguments work, finally the pitfalls of Prohibition are dragged out in arguing that pot should be legalized. One major observation about Prohibition is universally ignored, though. Although it is debatable whether overall problems related to alcohol in this country are fewer or greater before, during and after Prohibition, it is clear that the abject failure of the movement proved that once a vice is legalized it cannot then be made illegal again. The fact that smoking filter-less Camels is now embraced as a personal freedom to a greater extent than it is recognized as a public health disaster is another example. If we are going to legalize marijuana, we better make damn sure that it is the right thing to do.
The bottom line is that the current popular arguments for legalization of pot don’t make sense. Pot should not be legalized because it is less dangerous than alcohol, because we can’t win the war on drugs, or because Prohibition was a historic failure; even if these arguments are proved to be true (which they are not, by the way).
If, on the other hand, somebody can prove to me that smoking marijuana is actually good for me and those around me, well then, that’s the evidence I’m looking for. Good luck.