Opinion

Marijuana: our dirty little secret

I have some great news for all of you pot heads out there: marijuana is safer than both alcohol and tobacco, as if you were unaware.

Some recent studies have shown that lifetime marijuana use is potentially associated with reducing risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and shows no positive relationship with cancers of the lung or aerodigestive tract. Marijuana cannot cause fatal overdose and its use is negatively correlated with aggression and injury.

Alternatively, even moderate amounts of alcohol (about six drinks a week or less) elevate the risk of various cancers and the harm from smoking tobacco is apparent.

Of course there is some bad news: marijuana is still illegal and has been since 1937. Harry J. Anslinger, first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, lead the push to criminalize it. Anslinger led a vicious campaign filled with racism and sensational stories of violence.

Aiding Anslinger were powerful commercial interests (Du Pont, which patented nylon and didn’t want to compete with hemp and pharmaceutical companies) and the yellow journalism of William Randolph Hearst, who filled his newspapers with fictional stories of stoned criminals.

Dr. William C. Woodward of the American Medical Association testified to the harmlessness of marijuana and the deliberate lies of Anslinger, though it fell on the deaf ears of Congress, who passed the bill after virtually no discussion.

Everyone in the media seems to have a good laugh when politicians reminisce about the times they “toked a little herb.” What seems to go unnoticed is the blatant hypocrisy shown when these same people continue to support the prosecution and jailing of people whose only offense was getting high or helping others get high.

I always hear people say, “Yeah, we should legalize pot and tax the crap out of it.” How about we legalize it and then leave people the hell alone? Why must everything be taxed? Why would we want the federal government, one that has proven itself to be utterly wasteful of nearly every penny it steals, borrows and prints, to get any more money?

If you find an activity objectionable which harms nobody else, try to persuade people from doing it. Do not employ the heavy hand of the state to force others to behave in a manner approved by you. Unfortunately far too many people in our society have nothing better to do than worry about what others are doing in their private lives; pathetic busybodies who obtain self satisfaction from making others’ personal decisions.

I urge these people, as Nate Dogg so eloquently verbalized in his timeless defense of herbal liberty, to smoke weed every day.

Timothy Heacock is a senior majoring in finance and economics. He may be contacted at theacock@themiamihurricane.com.

November 1, 2009

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Timothy Heacock

Staff Columnist


4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Marijuana: our dirty little secret”

  1. Scammaj says:

    I enjoy all of your columns, keep up the good work. Voices of reason like yours are greatly lacking these days. They always seem to be coming from economics majors.

  2. Aaron Day says:

    Live and let live! I concur with your point of view, stay out of people’s lives, if they want to enjoy an herb that is found to be less harmful than cigarettes or/and alcohol but don’t tax us any more. Hey I liked your story so much that I wrote a blog about it on http://www.reefersmoke.com

    Peace,

    A

  3. jsknow says:

    My argument is against the way we are handling drug policy. If you want to stop seeing drug related crimes, violence and death then you need to take action and demand rational drug policy reform that has PROVEN to work far better than our war on drugs.

    Any time you have laws on the books that are causing a nonviolent US citizen to be arrested every 17 seconds for drug charges and those laws have been in effect for almost 100 years and the goals of those laws are not being accomplished AT ALL. Then it’s time for the citizens to say enough is enough and look for better ways of dealing with that particular problem.

    Americans are winners, we hate to lose but we keep letting our political representatives get us involved in wars they have no intention of winning. The drug war is a real war and it is an unnecessarily harmful, completely unwinnable, and wasteful war. It is in fact a war against a certain large percentage of our own population that chooses to different degrees and with a wide range or results, to put a wide variety of different substances in their body and for a wide variety of reasons. It’s being fought in our communities with real guns, teargas, dogs and virtually every other tool of war available.

    Right now we are installing 900 new prison beds and hiring 150 new correction officers every 2 weeks. Here in the “land of the free” for the first time in history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison. 2,319,258 Americans were incarcerated at the start of 2008. The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation, far ahead of even more populous China. More than half of federal prisoners are serving time for a drug offense. Largely because of the drug war, arresting Americans is becoming big business. We now have companies attempting to privatize our penal systems. These companies are huge supporters of drug prohibition and any other laws that cause Americans to be incarcerated. The more Americans behind bars, the more money they get from the government.

    The goals of the drug war are to “reduce drug related death, disease, crime and drug use”. It has accomplished NONE of those goals after almost 100 years of prohibition policy, over 1 trillion tax dollars wasted, ever tougher criminal penalties, arresting millions of Americans and all the other effort and resources that have been put into it.

    On top of that in the case of marijuana which accounts for roughly half of all drug arrests, that drug never was a serious threat to society, families, or individuals and it never will be. Because of that bad law being implemented based on lies by a few people that stood to gain financially from marijuana’s prohibition and them intentionally deceiving lawmakers, literally millions of Americans that choose to use that plant for ANY purpose are criminalized needlessly. No one in the entire world of any age in all of recorded history has ever died from the ingredients in marijuana. In the US we arrest someone on a marijuana charge every 38 seconds.

    Many big corporations that see marijuana as competition contribute heavily to promoting marijuana prohibition. Alcohol, tobacco, petroleum, cotton, timber and pharmaceutical companies, just to name a few and of course the government contributes billions every year to keep their prohibition cash cow alive and well. I’ve seen estimates that contributions toward drug prohibition may be as much as 1 million dollars per day. However, once people learn the truth about the issues they overwhelmingly are in favor of revising drug policy. That’s why 13 states have passed medical marijuana laws already and several have decriminalized. I’m sure you saw the news that the feds revised their policy about prosecuting medical marijuana patients that are in compliance with state laws. That’s a huge step in the right direction and shows that when enough voters take action progress is being made.

    Because of our prohibition policy bad laws have been put on the books that make it illegal for IV drug users to obtain clean needles. This results in AIDS and hepatitis being spread unnecessarily into our non drug using society on a huge scale.

    Now take a look at the way the Swiss have dealt with their heroin problem. You can watch a lot about this in the video titled “Jack Cole Interview” on the Just Say Know website (link below). In Switzerland they set up government run clinics where heroin addicts can go and get pharmaceutical grade heroin. If you don’t have the money to pay for the drug it’s free. That instantly put every illegal heroin dealer in that country out of business… they can’t compete with free. Anyone that wants heroin can go into a government run clinic up to 3 times a day and inject it. There are medical personnel on hand and anyone that wants to kick their habit is given counseling and help toward that goal. The results are that there has not been a single heroin overdose there in more than 13 years. Switzerland has the lowest AIDS and Hepatitis infection in all of Europe. Crime fell by 60% because no one is stealing or prostituting their self to pay for their heroin and after a 10 year study, they documented that there has been an 82% decline in new heroin users. Now please tell me why our drug war seems like better policy than that. No one went to jail and no one got killed. This program is far less expensive than what we are doing and far less harmful.

    True drug addiction of all types should be handled as a medical problem not a criminal problem. Drug use should not automatically be considered abuse or addiction. If a person kills or drives when they are intoxicated or breaks any legitimate law, we already have laws on the books to deal with those problems and if a real danger to society is recognized like it was with drunk driving, then those laws certainly should be rationally adjusted accordingly. Trying to lock up every drug user or eradicate every plant that produces illegal drugs from planet earth are completely unattainable irrational goals. We simply cannot afford to lock up every drug user and even if we could the vast majority go back to using drugs when they are released. Some countries even went so far as to execute drug users and even that has not succeeded in accomplishing a “drug free” country. At some point we have to realize that a certain percentage of people are always going to use drugs and implement policy that minimizes the harms without devastating society.

    Most drugs are made from weeds that without prohibition would be of far less financial value. According to a fairly recent documentary by Walter Cronkite, all the plants needed to supply an entire year’s worth of the heroin consumed in the US could be grown on about 50 square miles almost anywhere on earth and the entire year’s worth of heroin could be transported in a single cargo plane. Doesn’t it make more sense to have doctors treat the addicts and rational laws to deal with drug consumption and the related harms like drunk/intoxicated driving than to try and stop heroin or any other drug’s production? It has to because law enforcement has only been able to prevent the production or transportation of about 10% of the heroin and all other illegal drugs according to their own statistics.

    Despite the drug war and all the money and efforts that have been put into it, drugs today are more potent, more readily available and often less expensive than they were when Richard Nixon started the modern war on drugs.

    If you can show me ANYTHING that the drug war has accomplished when it comes to reducing drug related death, disease, crime and drug use that has significantly improved any drug related area over a long period of time I’d appreciate you telling me what it is.

    The Constitutional right to freedom of religion, free speech, a free press, to keep and bear arms, to be secure in your person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, to life, liberty and property, to be protected from having your property taken by the government without due process of law and without just compensation, to confront the witnesses against you, to be protected from excessive bail, excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishment, to vote and others have been unjustly denied to millions of Americans in the name of the drug war.

    In 1914 when all drugs were legal in the US, 1.3% of the US population was addicted to drugs. Despite over 1 trillion tax dollars being wasted, millions of Americans being arrested and all the other harms that have resulted from our failed drug prohibition policy, today 1.3% of our population is still addicted to drugs. That’s 0% improvement.

    Because of the inflated prices of illegal drugs CAUSED by prohibition the profits between the point of production and the point of sale can be as much as 17,000%. Drug prohibition is a self perpetuating policy that draws people into the illegal drug trade like a magnet because of the enormous profits. Alcohol prohibition created the same problems as every other drug prohibition. The year alcohol prohibition ended violent crime fell by 65%. Regulating drugs is NOT a solution to our true drug problems. Regulating drugs IS a solution to our illegal drug TRADE related crime and violence problems. With rational drug regulation the authorities are in control of the drug trade instead of violent gangsters. That’s a huge step in the right direction and once regulation is in place we can effectively deal with our real drug problems. When was the last time you heard of alcohol dealers getting into a shootout? I bet it was when alcohol was prohibited. Regulation equals control. Prohibition equals crime and corruption.

    More information about drug laws from Just Say Know:
    Using Internet Explorer web browser: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/home
    With All Other Browsers: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/index.html

    FL voters: Please go to http://www.pufmm.com/ print, sign and mail the FL medical marijuana petition. No matter where anyone stands on recreational use of marijuana, preventing a Dr. from providing any safe and effective medicine they think will help a patient goes against the very foundations of human decency. THANK YOU!

  4. gw says:

    I certainly have to agree with the 3rd para. These white folks, something wrong with their brain. SOmething those white girls must be giving them

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