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KQµårk 死神 On January - 14 - 2010

California is in the early stages of legalizing marijuana use.  New Jersey is probably going to legalize medical marijuana.  Thirteen states will then have decriminalized marijuana use in some way.  It is time to seriously consider legalizing at least decriminalizing the use of marijuana in the US.  Prohibition did not work and only lead to more crime in the 20’s and 30’s yet we failed to learn from that lesson.

In many countries around the world Marijuana is legalized or at least decriminalized:

The arguments against marijuana use are paper thin and can be disputed easily when compared to other drugs we legalize and misconceptions about marijuana.  The arguments for marijuana use are indisputable and often discounted for political reasons.

Arguments Against Marijuana Use Are Mostly Myths:

Top Five Marijuana Myths

Or click to read other common myths.

Refuting the bogus gateway drug argument:

For one thing alcohol is the first drug most people use and abuse in their lives so it is the ultimate gateway drug in that regard.  The only reason marijuana is considered a gateway drug for illicit drug use is because it is illegal to use now in most states.  If legalized 90% of marijuana users who are law abiding citizens will not have to illegally obtain it through drug dealers that offer a myriad of other drugs.  But there is nothing synergistic with marijuana and other drugs that enhances it’s effects.  Of course you have to no the difference between an additive effect and synergistic effect.  Synergistic means 1 + 1 = >2 if you 2 drugs together the effects are far worse.  Additive means 1 + 1 = 2 which means if you use two drugs together they both impart the same affect if used alone.

Marijuana is safe compared to most drugs including prescription drugs:

Marijuana is one of the safest drugs to use.  It is not addictive, has few long term effects, targets no bodily organs and when inhaled with proper devises like a vaporizer does not even cause lung problems.  Most drugs impair people’s ability to operate motor vehicles or heavy equipment but again compared to most other drugs illicit, legal or prescription it is far safer.  Anyone who has experience with alcohol, opiates, Valium derivatives and marijuana will tell you that they would rather have someone on the road with them that has imbibed in marijuana rather than the other drugs.  No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, in fact it’s impossible because of the way the body absorbs THC derivatives.  But thousands have died of alcohol overdoses and overdoses of about every other illicit drug.  Most poignantly, most prescription and even many over the counter drugs are lethal in large enough quantities.  Therefor in this way marijuana use is uniquely safe compared to other drugs.

Alcohol use is far more dangerous than marijuana use:

Alcohol use is a dangerous drug that has debilitating acute and chronic physical effects.  Abuse of alcohol is one of the main causes of liver failure.  Alcohol has synergistic effects with opiates, Valium derivatives and many other drugs which amplifies the depressive or mood altering effects of the drug combination.   Alcohol is far more dangerous when operating motor vehicles and heavy equipment than marijuana because alcohol not only impairs physical functions it impairs the decision making process by lowering inhibitions.  An old joke is a cop knows you are drunk when you are going down a major thoroughfare 50 MPH over the speed limit and they know when someone is smoking weed when they are going 20 MPH under the speed limit which does have some validity.

Marijuana has legitimate therapeutic use for many chronic diseases:

Study after study marijuana has proven to have substantial positive effects to mitigate the symptoms of a wide array of diseases.  I have not used marijuana for years but I can personal attest to the positive effects of marijuana during chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  Right now it would help my chronic foot pain and reoccurring endocarditis from CHF but I do not take the chance of using it in my state that heavily prosecutes users.  I still do not know if or how much I would use medical marijuana but considering my pain and the drugs I am taking for it now I would appreciate the access to any alternative drug therapies at the very least to improve my quality of life.

From Wikipedia (the spinning THC derivative is my creation):

THC and other cannabinoids, as a physician-recommended form of medicine or herbal therapy. Cannabis has a long history of medicinal use, with evidence dating back to 2,000 B.C.E.[1]

Although the extent of the medicinal value of cannabis has been debated, it does have several well-documented beneficial effects.[2][3][4][5] Among these are: the amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as general analgesic effects (pain reliever). Less confirmed individual studies also have been conducted indicating cannabis is beneficial in a variety of conditions including Multiple sclerosis and depression. Synthetic cannabinoids are also available as prescription drugs in many countries. Examples include Marinol, available in Germany and the United States, and Cesamet, available in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and also in the United States.

Legalizing marijuana will have a substantial positive effect on the economy and state and federal budgets if taxed:

Cannabis use is still common despite being against the law, and more than 97 million Americans admit to having tried it, according to the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This is proof that cannabis prohibition is not working, and regulating and taxing cannabis is a better option. Cannabis users are probably the only segment of the population that actually wants higher taxes!

These cannabis consumers would rather pay a tax on their habit and purchase it legally than risk arrest, and with government budgets stretched thin, how can we afford to keep losing this potential source of tax revenue? A recent study by Jon Gettman, Ph.D., “Lost Taxes and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws,” estimates that marijuana in the U.S. is a $113 billion industry annually and that American taxpayers are losing a total of $41 billion toward enforcement of marijuana laws and lost potential tax revenue.

Final considerations about marijuana use:

I am sensitive to the legitimate concerns that people have against widespread marijuana use, especially parents.  Obviously marijuana should not be legal for minors and should not be legal until the age of 21 like alcohol.  Marijuana is safe to use but should not be abused like any other drug.  Obviously in certain professions marijuana should not be used during work hours and companies should be able to have drug policies to ensure people are not using drugs during work hours like they do with alcohol and other drugs if they wish.

Like any other drug marijuana should be used in moderation for medical purposes, in the home and in social situations.  Using any drug as a way of life is not healthy.  Marijuana has psychotropic and euphoric effects  that can be used as a crutch for not dealing with the problems we all face in life.  So if marijuana is legalized government should educate people about it’s proper use and the implications of it’s use.  Moderation is one of the keys to living a physically and mentally healthy life and people need to be educated that moderate use of marijuana is healthy but overuse is not.

If you are interested in more information, advocating marijuana use for any purpose or at least decriminalize marijuana there are several organizations advocating sane marijuana laws and that offer information.

CommonSense for Drug Policy
Drug Policy Alliance Network
Freedom to Exhale

What’s happening now:

The progress that is occurring now in legalizing medical marijuana, decriminalizing marijuana or legalizing marijuana in many states has been steady but at some point probably still years down the road the federal government needs to step in and set the law of the land.  I do not think we are quite at that point were enough public sentiment has been created that it’s use should be federalized just yet and the state by state strategy has been effective.  The Obama administration has taken some early steps to end the so called “War on Drugs” by moving to not interfere with states that have adopted medical marijuana laws and most importantly is moving to treat marijuana and even other illicit drug use as a public health concern rather than a criminal concern for users.  However there are still zealot prosecutors, in the DEA and local authorities that make their living off of punishing people whose only crime is using a safe drug.  The other bigger problem is that when another Republican administration gets into power again at some point draconian prosecutions will continue and states rights can be infringed upon like we have seen under the Bush administration.

Written by KQµårk 死神

My PlanetPOV contact is [email protected] Proud Dem whose favorite hobby is cat herding. The GOP is not a political party, it's a personality disorder. Cancer, Heart Failure and Bush Survivor.

76 Responses so far.

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  1. FrankenPC says:

    One slight modification to the “marijuana is harmless” argument.

    As a long time user, I can say unequivocally that MJ use can lead to hangovers. There ARE withdraw symptoms. But, they last for only a few hours. Also, inhallation of a combusted product of any type is bad for your esophogous and can lead to throat cancer. It’s not MJ that’s the problem, it’s the high temp gas.

    Always USE a water pipe!

    • kesmarn says:

      FrankenPC, you raise some good points. My daughter has a friend who’s trying to give up MJ because he has lost job opportunities due to failing the drug testing part of the application process. He’s finding that it’s not as easy as he thought it would be. Also, a local cardiologist said in a lecture that MJ does cause a rapid heartbeat in many users and the particulates in the smoke can exacerbate lung problems. All of which doesn’t make it too much worse or better than many other legal substances. But it doesn’t seem to be a totally benign drug. I guess aspirin isn’t, either, though!

  2. javaz says:

    Cheech and Chong want to smoke pot with Sarah Palin!

    “”””I know she’s got the best hash,” Cheech Marin told POLITICO while sipping on a vodka cocktail at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

    “She answered a lot of questions like a stoner,” Tommy Chong said in reference to the former vice presidential nominee’s time on the campaign trail.”””


  3. Kalima says:

    K, should this ever become the law of your land, I think that I’ll have to take one of those “Win a Green card” thingies, I keep winning on Yahoo and other sites I go to.

    The last time hubby and I “smoked” here, must have been about 20 years ago. It wasn’t as much fun as it used to be in London. Had we been caught, we would have been sitting in a jail cell with our names in lights. The Japanese are such spoilsports and I know it would help to get me through the bad days. The only problem I see, is that I would never get any work done and the furry ones would have to be taught how to open their own cans of food, I’d be far too busy raiding the fridge. :)

    • KQuark says:

      Yeah it’s been over 10 years for us. We just don’t dare in states like GA.

      • Kalima says:

        Really, my friend in NC used to get a share of his father’s medical stash, his father died last year, so that put an end to that.

        As I said before, here you can drink all the booze you want, be totally obnoxious, throw up and pee in full view of anyone and as long as you don’t kill anyone, you just say how very sorry you are and keep bowing for a few minutes, eyes to the floor, and all is forgiven.

        Up until a few years ago, you could buy sake in vending machines. Too many rowdy and extremely drunk kids put a stop to that. It took them long enough to figure that one out.

  4. SueInCa says:

    Yee gads, look at the red in Alaska. I mean CA, especially Northern CA has alot of red, but Alaska put us to shame.

  5. SueInCa says:

    Last night on Mercy, one of the doctor’s sisters (a wild girl) was going in to business selling cupcakes. He told her cupcakes were not new, and she said hers were special. Then she proceeded to pass them out to patients and the hospital staff. People were getting high in the hospital off her cupcakes…………….

  6. Tiger99 says:

    Do I read this Article? No No No No…
    Do I ponder it’s points and objectives? No No No No…
    Do I smoke this article? Ya Ya Ya Ya …

    “The Rasta Gourmet”

  7. Chernynkaya says:

    This story makes me think of so many things I am writing them piecemeal. I actually am starting to believe that marijuana will at least be decriminalized soon. Here in CA, I know so many people who are licensed to sell medical marijuana. Plus, there are so many stores that sell it! And with California so cash strapped, and such a crop here, I think it is possible-- something I never would have believed ten years ago.

    • KQuark says:

      What prompted me to write this article was because NJ (the state where I grew up) is legalizing marijuana’s medical use. I know NJ is not the most liberal state in the country so if they legalize it for any reason progress is happening faster than I expected.

      • choicelady says:

        I am agog at the fact that NEBRASKA has decriminalized it! NEBRASKA!!!!!! Clearly the world has shifted on its axis! NEBRASKA!! I was born there and had family there. It’s slightly to the right of Newt politically, but they decriminalized marijuana! Yikes!!!!

        I need to come clean here, so to speak. I am probably the only one of us still qualified to be on the Supreme Court -- smoked once and HATED it. The end. Child of the 60s, I never did other drugs, not once, not ever. That said, I think it’s utterly absurd NOT to make marijuana legal. Absolutely stupid to waste our nation’s resources over this plant. I also believe entirely in its medicinal properties and am disgusted by the raids on cancer and AIDS and other patients that used to happen in CA and other places until Obama stopped it. At least at the federal level.

        But then I also think decriminalizing drugs in general but regulating access makes huge sense, too. I happen to be of the belief that the introduction of crack, etc. into inner cities was not just an accident. It is a huge industry that involves those same multinational banks we all know and love for the current crisis, and I remember under Clinton when drug money laundering by them was actually prosecuted. It’s not for nothing that a few months ago some agency reported that 99% of our paper money has traces of cocaine -- obtained through bank transactions and contact with drug money -- it’s that ubiquitous. So if the banks are still laundering, there is some major connection to big criminal syndicates going on. If we wanted to stop this, we could, not through prohibition but through prosecution of finances. We don’t seem to care. Yet.

        Instead we go after grandmas with cancer who are just trying to eat. Uh-huh. Yup -- that’ll solve the problem.

  8. Khirad says:

    I always intuitively knew that myth about pot being stronger now was bogus. Granted, there are those who can increase THC content, but even your generic bud will not be like smoking oregano, as one class told me. I think maybe the person who told me that had been smoking oregano. By the way, it totally does help with depression, and not just during use. But… it also became a crutch for me, and I would smoke a small bowl before any social situation. I’m glad I don’t “need” it anymore. Went like 7-8 years without it, then partook like a year and a half ago clubbing. It just wasn’t as fun and made me paranoid. This has to do with other factors though, like environment, as well.

    On everything, though, what’s to add? It’s all here. And might I say that the talking heads arguing against TV totally get routed every time anymore. It’s simple. The so-called “stoners” are suit and tie wonks, and those who defend cannabis prohibition are now the type that is unpolished. They get crushed because there is no debate. All their arguments, come down to it’s wrong because it’s illegal or some such logical fallacy… hellllooooo, that’s what we’re talking about. Seriously, I’ve seen that as an “argument.”

    It’s only a matter of time for Washington. I mean, seriously. They already have ruled that a cop can’t use pot smell from a car for probable cause. This is just the most recent attempt:


    I’d aim a little lower, but hey, Bellingham will vote for it (there’s a Northwestern joke -- to let the rest of you in on that -- that after the sixties all the hippies relocated and took asylum in Eugene and Bellingham).

    Legalize it already. Seriously. I’m so tired of this. Given how cash-strapped we are as a nation, now might be a better time to push this. At least California for goshsakes. Still, antiquated attitudes will be an obstacle for some time. People get more conservative as they age, so the Churchillian saw goes. But, for what it’s worth, even the conservative kids I went to school with didn’t see the big deal (and in fact smoked with us), nor did they care much about bashing gays (not to divert the discussion -- just making a point about cultural attitudes).

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Paranoid-- yep, that’s my main complaint, but it depends on what you get. Not all marijuana does that. A few weeks (months?) ago I heard a hilarious and totally relatable 911 call for a guy who had eaten too many brownies cooked with pot for the first time with his wife. They thought they were dying. Not funny for them, but the 911 operator calmed them down.

      Hey-- found it! He was a cop!

  9. Hopeington says:

    Leaving now with this message from the late great Peter Tosh

    As your resident reggae head, ya know I just had to do this!!!
    Peace Out!!!

    • SueInCa says:

      We are kindred souls. I was at a SF Giants game and some people were playing his tape(yes it was that long ago) in the parking lot. I meant to ask who it was but never got around to it. About a month later I was at my brothers and he put on the ablum with the song, Walk and Don’t Look Back. He made me a tape that same day. I was so happy, like I had gotten the brass ring or something.

  10. javaz says:

    Great article and graphics, KQ!
    You’re preaching to the choir on this end in our household.
    I know so many women that use pot to help with menstrual cramps and migraines during that time of month.
    It also helps with menopause and mood swings, so I’ve been told. (hee-hee)
    People who suffer from severe, cluster headaches also find relief from the nature’s herb.
    I hope more states follow in decriminalizing pot at the very least, but living in AZ, I just can’t see that happening here for a very, very long time.

  11. Emerald1943 says:

    Great work, K!

    As a Emergency Room nurse for years, I believe I saw most everything come through the doors except possibly leprosy. Never, never did I see a drug overdose from MJ, never did I see a case of child or spousal abuse because of it, never did I see a stoned driver cross the median and plow into a school bus killing children. I never saw a case of rape due to pot, never a stabbing or shooting because of it.

    But alcohol…that’s a whole other ball of wax! GI bleeders, perforated ulcers, Korsakoff’s syndrome (chronic brain damage), liver failure and cirrhosis, alcohol toxicity/poisoning, auto accidents, suicide, shootings, stabbings, rape, wife-beating, assault and battery, murders, child abuse including the rape of a two-year old…all related to alcohol consumption. It was common knowledge that on Sunday and Monday nights during football season, we would see an increase in spousal abuse cases after bouts of heavy drinking during the games. On very cold nights, the emergency services would bring in the winos from the gutters to spend the night in the warm ER. I cannot count the numbers. We would give them IV fluids with vitamins, wrap them up and let them sleep it off, knowing that we would see them again when the next cold snap happened.

    I would conservatively estimate that at our Level One Trauma Center, at least 80% of the cases we treated were directly or indirectly caused by alcohol abuse/consumption.

    Prohibition does not work. People will continue to use illegal substances. Legalization and control is absolutely indicated! It’s about time!

    • choicelady says:

      Em -- I will absolutely second that! I did sexual assault and domestic violence victim intervention, and NO one ever was harmed by someone on marijuana! Not only did we learn that abstractly, we found that out by experience. Alcohol and cocaine -- whole ‘nother ball game. Frankly, if I were in charge, I’d GIVE MJ to people convicted of domestic violence! Direct that they HAD to use it. A lot fewer ER visits for their victims, I’d bet.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Emerald-- you are such an asset here! You have knowledge and experience we civilians will never have and thank you for sharing that.

    • KQuark says:

      I so appreciate your perspective because you are really on the front lines of this stupid war.

      • Emerald1943 says:

        Thanks, KQ! But I WAS on the front lines…no longer. I got out of the nursing business due to severe burn-out and frustration.

        • KQuark says:

          Cheers. I was not sure but you still have a unique perspective most people do not have. Last time I was in the ER there was a victim of a heroin overdose that came in and I did not see them but I saw the angst and concern on the faces of their family members. It was a very intense experience.

          There will be known and unintended negative consequences of legalizing marijuana but I think the benefits will outweigh the negatives.

          • Emerald1943 says:

            Hey KQ, actually heroin overdoses are easier to handle than alcohol problems for the most part. We have this marvelous drug called Narcan. It is a powerful and most effective narcotics antagonist that completely and quickly reverses the effects of any narcotic drug in the body. I have seen it bring back an overdose victim from near death in just a few minutes after injection. Alcohol has no miracle drug to reverse its effects.

  12. Chernynkaya says:

    Just got to the part about weed not impairing one’s driving. That’s true! I only drive about 2 MPH when stoned. hehe

  13. Chernynkaya says:

    “For one thing alcohol is the first drug most people use and abuse in their lives so it is the ultimate gateway drug in that regard.”

    Let me stop reading right there for a minute. First, more crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol than any other save crack-- and those crimes are committed not because of the INFLUENCE of crack, but because of the need to pay for it (robbery). Alcohol is the cheapest and most common corollary to crimes of violence.

    Second, I think very few people recognize it as the drug it is. And maybe because of the delivery system-- smoking it. I bet if it could be drunk (that sounds odd-- “drunken”? “dranked”?) we would put it into the category of socially acceptable “vices”, like alcohol.

  14. Chernynkaya says:

    GROOVY!! Now, I’ll read the post, KQ.

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