One State At a Time: Marijuana Prohibition is Ending
Looking forward to the end of a senseless prohibition.
Back in 2009, Times Online writer Andrew Sullivan speculated the end of “senseless prohibition” of marijuana. Fast forward to the present time, most states have instituted some form of decriminalization. At the time of this update (and if the polls are even close to predicting the outcome of the election), California appears poised to join Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and the District of Columbia for outright legalization.
How many years has it been that we’ve wondered about the end to a pointless prohibition? In my own humble opinion, prohibition has only served to prevent people from accessing a genuine gift from God: a cheap and easy to grow plant that can ease the pain and suffering of millions of people.
I’ve always felt that the American “War on Drugs” has been unjust, unnecessary, and completely useless. It seemed to me then and it appears to me now that these laws were trumped up as a means to control people rather than to control access to a drug. One must ask the question – for whom were the controls created? Was it to destroy a thriving hemp industry so that wood pulp and petrochemicals could dominate? Did the prohibition serve the pharmaceutical industry? Alcoholic beverages? Tobbaco? Clearly, the only accomplishment was waste: billions of dollars spent on interdiction and prosecution; and millions of lives ruined. All because of a plant. At some point, we must stop and seek out better ways to make better laws. But at this juncture, let’s settle for a complete reverse of the prohibition.
And let’s add the potential commercial/industrial use of hemp – a close cousin to the smokable product, but cultivated for its utility a wide range of uses. Many folks are surprised to learn that back before the prohibition, this plant was a huge cash crop for farmers. And why not? The long fibrous stalks are ideal for textiles – from heavy canvas (hint: “cannibis”) to paper. Even the natural oil can be distilled for all sorts of manufacturing processes. In fact, there are so many potential industrial uses for the plant that some economists have speculated that national legalization might trigger a new golden age for U.S. agriculture.
My position – I support any law that allowed cities to license pot sales to the public and to use the revenues generated to fund local programs like drug diversion and vocational development programs for primary and secondary school kids. Others have suggested that state taxes from pot sales alone could offer significant funding for health care. The bottom line is that the continued prohibition of this WEED makes about as much sense as the Prohibition of alcohol – and the result has been about the same.
Moreover, it seems unnecessarily cruel to keep this valuable herb away from people who could really benefit from its use. I know that there are people out there who are dubious about the medicinal qualities of marijuana, but I know from personal experience (my brother and my mother) that chemo patients find measurable and sustained relief from their disease and treatments. Several peer-reviewed medical studies seem to also bear this claim out.
Time for a change, folks. –HP