Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Guest Post: 'Ganja'

Longest Guest Post Ever, by Justin: 'Ganja'

I am not as much in favor for the legalization of marijuana as I am for the decriminalization. I actually voted “no” on today’s poll for that reason. The actual legalization would just cause too many problems. Every stoner out there would be growing their own stuff and probably selling what they don’t personally consume. That poses a problem with the fact that you can’t control to who they try to sell their product (i.e. children and minors). I think the total legalization would not eliminate drug rings and cartels. In fact I think they would increase and would be relocated to within the states. Plus, there would be no way to monitor the growth activity in the states for any kind of taxation if everybody and their mother could just order growing materials online and turn their garage into a grow room.

So my stance is to decriminalize the possession of marijuana with the option of the government regulating the growing and the sale. In an ideal world I would really allow the private sector to produce and sell with their company revenue being taxed higher than a manufacturer of, say, teddy bears. The privatization of the marijuana industry would also yield better quality and lower prices through competition. But the legalization of private or government growing/selling is a later step in the process. For now I would like to concentrate on decriminalization.

In 2006, marijuana arrests totaled 829,627 (which was an increase of approximately 43,000 from 786,545 in 2005). At this rate, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds and marijuana arrests comprise nearly 44% of all drug arrests in the US. Now, of all those 2006 arrests, approximately 90% were simply for possession, not sale or manufacture. So that means there were 746,664 people arrested for marijuana possession only. These people, more than likely, just wanted to enjoy their own recreational activities within the privacy of their own home. Now, compare that to the 611,523 people arrested for violent crimes in 2006. Violent crimes are general one of four categories: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. I personally find this statistic appalling and would much rather see the effort being put into the arrest of the pot smokers instead into arresting the many, many other violent crime offenders who go uncaught each year. Now, if you believe a marijuana smoker poses the same threat as a child rapist, then you might as well quit reading now because you are obviously too retarded to make logical assessments.

So now let’s chat real fast about the actual cost to enforce marijuana laws. The estimated US cost to enforce these ridiculous laws is $10.7 billion. Oh yeah, that is a real and validated number and another statistic that appalls me. And that is just dollar cost – it does not reflect the time lost from police officers, labs, etc having to fill out paperwork, analyze samples in the lab, and put the data “into the system.” A study by a Ph.D. named Jon Gettman (using past US government statistics) estimates that the US marijuana industry is worth $113 billion. Tax that at just under 30% and there is another $32 billion in government revenue. Coupled with no longer accruing the $10.7 billion in enforcement costs and all of a sudden the US government has another $43 billion in the bank. What can you do with this money? It might pay for a huge chunk of Obama’s proposed universal healthcare (estimated roughly at $35-70 billion). Or perhaps you'd hire 880,000 schoolteachers at the average U.S. teacher salary of $47,602 per year. Or give every one of our current teachers a 30 percent raise (at a cost of $15 billion, according to the American Federation of Teachers) and use what's left to take a $27 billion whack out of the federal deficit.

So why are all of these facts not common knowledge? The media. There has been a bad stigma attached to marijuana since the 60’s and no pundit will jump on the reform bandwagon because they may lose ad revenue. All the statistics I have been using can be cited back to legitimate studies and research. And even when the media reports on these marijuana statistics (which are reported by the FBI) they cite the source of the data as NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws). Most people are also very uneducated about this organization and just assume they are a bunch of hippies who only want to get high.

I have not even touched on the medicinal benefits of marijuana, mainly because this is already too long and I have not researched that quite as much. However, there have been cases where THC oil has cured some types of skin cancer when rubbed on the affected area. Essentially, the THC causes the cancer cells to get the “munchies” and in turn eat the other cancer cells as well as themselves. Think of it as Pizza the Hut’s death in Spaceballs. And come on, a potential cure for cancer??? That alone should have people at least start to research other benefits.

I ask everyone reading this blog, please do not have a closed mind. I know many of you think that this issue is irrelevant and would not apply to your life. But the tyranny and the bullshit’s gone on too long (some Tenacious D for you Keith). Quit thinking that everything you have heard about marijuana in your life is the absolute truth because, chances are, you are wrong. Just do 15 minutes of actual research and you might start singing a different tune. Here are a few tid-bits to get you going:

1) Marijuana is not dangerous – there have been many, many reports and studies done on the effects of marijuana and they have all concluded that marijuana poses no great risk to society and should not be criminalized. I could list some sources but I don’t want to make this longer than it is.

2) Marijuana is not a “gateway” drug – There is no scientific evidence for the theory that marijuana is a "gateway" drug. The gateway theory took hold in the sixties, when marijuana became the leading new recreational drug. It was refuted by events in the eighties, when cocaine abuse exploded at the same time marijuana use declined.

3) Marijuana is not a major road hazard – Two major new studies by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration have confirmed marijuana's relative safety compared to alcohol. The first, the most comprehensive drug accident study to date, surveyed blood samples from 1882 drivers killed in car, truck and motorchycle accidents in seven states during 1990-91.(5) Alcohol was found in 51.5% of specimens, as against 17.8% for all other drugs combined. Marijuana, the second most common drug, appeared in just 6.7%. Two-thirds of the marijuana-using drivers also had alcohol. The report concluded that alcohol was by far the dominant drug-related problem in accidents.

4) Marijuana will not kill you by overdose – Animal tests have revealed that extremely high doses of cannabinoids are needed to have lethal effect. This has led scientists to conclude that the ratio of the amount of cannabinoids necessary to get a person intoxicated (i.e., stoned) relative to the amount necessary to kill them is 1 to 40,000. In other words, to overdose, you would have to consume 40,000 times as much marijuana as you needed to get stoned. In contrast, the ratio for alcohol varies between 1 to 4 and 1 to 10. It is easy to see how upwards of 5000 people die from alcohol overdoses every year and no one EVER dies of marijuana overdoses.

5) Marijuana is endorsed by the Bible – I won’t go into detail with this part right here but do a little research and you will be amazed by the biblical references to pot. It might really surprise you.

I leave you with a postulation. America was founded on the basis of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as long as you do not infringe on those same rights for another fellow American. So how exactly does somebody smoking a joint in his own house affect your personal rights?

I look forward to your comments.


  1. Can I get the cliff notes to this post?

  2. Well articulated - you just come up with that post today? If decriminalized, what would you propose for regulating the use/consumption/possession? Licenses or fines? Also, were we not just talking the other day about limiting government regulations?

    Thanks for The D, man.

  3. Jake is claiming that the software is messing up and not allowing breaks in the paragraphs. I really didn't just write one huge thought. I think this is his way of opposing the decriminalization of marijuana!!!

  4. Good post Justin....I agree with you. I personality don't see it any worse then alcohol. I also didn't think about it in terms of decriminalization. It seems to be a much better approach, but I am also interested in your response to Keith's questions.
    Kevin - see below.

    - don't legalize, but decriminalize
    - we are wasting LOTS of money on fighting marijuana lets use the money else where
    - there is proven medical benefits
    - the media sucks and make people believe pot is BAD
    - pot is not dangerous, not a gateway drug, not a major road hazard, you can't overdose, and they got high in the bible.

  5. I was going to right a response....but then I got high.

  6. Thanks Keith - the final product was expedited by Jake's post today but I had actually been looking into this as guest post for a few days now.

    I think you would initially have to mirror marijuana possession with gun possession (in Texas at least). But first there has to be a possession limit or else you will have people transporting 100-pounds of grass in the back of a pickup. I propose a max of 2 ounces. Again similar to gun laws, you can transport this in your car and possess this on private property (like your house or a buddy's house). However, I would say that possession under the influence is always illegal.

    I would not regulate the use or consumption at all. If you want to have 50-pounds of marijuana in your house, then knock yourself out. You are just going to have to get it there 2-ounces at a time or else face prosecution. If there were any studies that showed the ill-effects of marijuana then I might change my views but as of right now I don't see a need to regulate personal consumption.

    And I am still a big fan of limiting government regulations but I'm trying to thinking realistically here if this is ever approved. Our government is not going to pass up the chance to get involved in a $113 billion industry. This brings us back to the limited regulations debate but that's just how I see it happening if this plan was to actually be implemented.

  7. I have a couple of comments but want to add a disclaimer first. I do not condone marijuana use but I completely agree with the notion of decriminilization. It is crazy for this to be a crime and it's a waste of our legal system. How can it be any worse than alcohol? And further more, why would it be so impossible to control? People can make moonshine today but they don't and so what if they do? I don't really care as long as they don't moonshine and drive. Do you really think the average person is going to keep a marijuana garden rather than just running to the local drug store :)

  8. Justin-thank you for taking the time to write out those points, I think they are all superbly valid. I can't speak for anyone else but with me, you're preaching to the choir. I don't consider myself an advocate for legalization, but the fact that I turn into a criminal every time I hit a left handed cigarette is ridiculous. It's quite interesting that the laws were set in place as racial discrimination laws. Several decades back before the Beatles, before Elvis, about the only people who used marijuana were Mexicans coming across the border for work and black jazz musicians. Even after these cultural barriers were breeched, the laws remained in place.
    The only thing that really bothers me is the popular mentality that because it's illegal, it must be "bad" or "wrong," as if the laws had a valid bearing on the public perception of it.

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