To legalize or not to legalize?
Down here in sweet Jamaica…’
(Mutabaruka, a reggae singer)
You know what I like about Heineken beer? They have a tagline: ‘Drink responsibly’. I haven’t always followed this smart advice but I share these values. I think the same is fine with cannabis.
First of all, it is already legal in many places across the world, from Netherlands to Colorado. Not even mentioning Moslem countries with ancient traditions of smoking dope. Second, I am not a fan of weed at all so I can be comparatively un-biased on this issue. I’ve tried cannabis only once, in a chocolate chip last December in Alaska, where it is legal now. I had pretty bad after-effects such as tremor, anxiety, etc. Personally, I am not excited about this drug though I understand that its effects vary individually. Maybe I am unlucky. But I know some dudes both in Russia and worldwide who would love it to be legalized.
I think there is a lot of hypocrisy about marijuana which is decreasing now. According to virtually every research and to our everyday experience, alcohol may cause much worse consequences but it is 100 per cent legal (depending on the legal age). Even some Arabs were telling me it is OK to drink under the roof because ‘Allah doesn’t see you then’. Smoking is more harmful, too, but you can still buy your Camel pack if you want to and be a macho man. These things really kill people. As far as I understand, marijuana doesn’t kill. Probably it will make you stupid but would be your choice and the same relates to alcohol.
I believe in the case of marijuana (not heroin, cocaine and other heavy drugs), it is all about ‘drinking responsibly’. I know a guy in Russia, who served three times as a volunteer in Chechnya and then went to fight in Donbass, the Ukraine. He developed Post Traumatic Syndrome, was a devoted booze consumer with some social misbehavior problems. Now he is an occasional weed – which is not legal in Russia – smoker and feels just great. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke tobacco, he’s also a vegan now and, you won’t believe it, a pacifist.
What a change! This transformation sounds convincing to me. So legalize it!
Should weed be legal?
Of course it should.
But let’s be a bit more productive rather than just saying “Yes”.
In the UK, most people that want to smoke dope will do so. But it’s illegal. So users need to go underground to dealers to buy it. Where they are likely to find the hard-core drugs like heroin being pushed around as well.
The tiny British island of Jersey, in which I spent over 30 years living, and where youngsters had more disposable cash than their UK counterparts, saw dealers giving away heroin, knowing that all the users would be back for more.
Back in the UK today, you face up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both, just for possession of cannabis, under current legislation.
If it’s more punishment you’re after, then supplying or producing this class B drug can land you behind bars for a maximum of 14 years, an unlimited fine, or both.
Arguments have been raging for some time now to legalise the drug to help people with chronic pain and anxiety. Indeed, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform will tell you that tens of thousands of people in the UK regularly break the law to use cannabis for symptom relief. But after a debate, the government said they believed that substantial scientific evidence showed cannabis to be a harmful drug that can damage human health.
Like alcohol, or tobacco.
So why can’t we maybe grow our own, so we know it’s pure – or let the government grow the stuff and sell it to us – or regulate the industry.
A right wing think-tank, the Adam Smith Institute, reckons that £750,000,000 (million) to £1,000,000,000 (billion) could be generated in taxes if the drug was regulated.
Like tobacco or alcohol.
The savings to be made avoiding prosecution (with over 1,300 offenders currently in UK prisons for cannabis-related crimes) could save the poor old British taxpayer around £50,000,000 (million) every single year.
If you compare the UK to much of the world, I believe the way it deals with drugs policy is completely wrong. Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, goes much further when he says Britain is unique among modern democracies in maintaining an approach based on nothing but prohibition. “In fact, we now stand closer to countries such as Russia, China, Indonesia, and Singapore,” he says. “The only thing that separates us from countries with such medieval policies is our lack of the death penalty for drug offences.”
If you study what happened in Portugal, for instance, you will find the hugely positive impact that decriminalisation has had over the past couple of decades. There is now an extremely low rate of overdose deaths and the number of HIV-positive people addicted to drugs has decreased. I understand that millions of euros have been saved by not prosecuting, but more importantly, the level of drug use has not increased.
I’ve just looked at the Debate.org site, which posed the very same question as this blog – 84 per cent so far have said “Yes”, with just 16% voting “No”. (I should add that I don’t know the size of the sample of voters).
If you compare the effects of drinking alcohol, of smoking, of breathing for a day in any of our cities, I firmly believe those three pose much much more of a threat than inhaling a joint of weed.
So pass the kutchie…………………and yes, I did, once upon a time.
Should weed be legal?
Two-times in these Blog pages, I have argued that I believe morality is often random and quite subjective. Marijuana is a third example of my argument. How can the cigarette possibly be legal when one in three will get cancer after smoking a few years? Weed doesn’t cause cancer and it’s illegal.
The Huffington Post offers this: “In fact, the scientific evidence suggests cannabis is safer than alcohol. Alcohol kills 40,000 people every year in the U.S. Cannabis kills nobody — although Willie Nelson says a friend of his did once die when a bale of cannabis fell on his head.”
In the interest of full disclosure I did smoke when I was young. In fact, I burned down the whole damn forest. I was always amazed at buffoons who would smoke rubbish – lawn clippings, and seem to think it was smooth. I suppose it’s a bit like understanding decent wine, something I know nothing about.
The interesting thing about that period was one day I just decided to stop – and did. I was in school, in radio, and trying to be an adult, whatever that means. So I just stopped. Most cannot quit cigarettes.
Marijuana was made illegal in the US for political reasons. This is not an opinion but I’ll not bore you with the supporting facts except to note that Richard Nixon made it a Schedule One drug, equal to Acid, LSD, and Hashish. The logic behind this was that hippies smoked weed and if he could put a few hundred thousand of them in jail, it would help his party. As I said earlier, morality often has little to do with morality.
Using BS science, the Americans successfully got other nations to follow their example. Today, marijuana is illegal in places like Jamaica only because the US Government forced it on them. But now, many of these nations are reconsidering their positions and I think that’s a good thing.
Back to the subject of today’s Blog: Should weed be legal? Of course it should. But that isn’t going to happen given the current administration running my country. The head cop is a weezing geezer from Alabama named Jeff Sessions. Without a thread of supporting evidence, he has decided that he will personally end the changed laws in many US States. The changes that have been made over the last few years will allow folks with various illnesses access to a drug with few side effects. I bet big Pharma has a financial interest in this.
So, long-term the decision has already been made: Weed will be legal.