The New York Times recently published an op-ed called “Give Pot a Chance” by author Timothy Egan. He argues that:
1. It’s just as bad for you as alcohol and energy drinks, which are both legal
2. It could raise revenue if properly taxed
3. Racial minorities are disproportionately jailed for marijuana-related crimes
I agree with his points. And building off that third point, I think the opposition to legalizing pot is motivated much more by social, lifestyle, and racial biases than by health concerns. Much as is the case with gay marriage and other issues, I think the real concern is with lifestyle choices that make some people uncomfortable. And there’s a tendency towards hysteria. To say, “if we legalize pot, then lazy, immoral Drug People will Take Over This Country!”
Part of me does think the idea of lots of legal weed stores in America is vaguely depressing. I picture hundreds of thousands of people saying, “Guess I’ll mosey over to Weed-Mart to buy my wad of hash and then return to the couch.” But I don’t think it’s different than all those stores devoted to providing people with their supply of those liquid depressant drugs called Liquor. Which feels heavy-handed to say, but you get my point. Some people will abuse drugs of some kind regardless. There’s no avoiding that. It feels fair and smart to distinguish between marijuana and other, more dangerous drugs.
Locking up people for smoking weed, something a substantial portion of the population will at least casually do sometime in life (high school, college, after college) without incident doesn’t seem necessary. Then again, the issue of what’s best for people who currently sell it illegally seems too complicated to unpack here. Definitely harshing my buzz.