This is the first part of my two-part closer for July, focusing on a domestic and a foreign issue in each part respectively. We begin with the domestic issue, one which I have remained mostly silent on in the past; namely, the legalization of drugs, specifically marijuana. My reasoning for staying quiet on this one is because my thoughts concerning this issue have always been clashing with each other, and it has not been until now when I feel as if I’ve found a consensus within myself.
Moving on, my stance on marijuana and drugs in general has been a developing one for many years. This has been one of the most complex issues to me, because whenever I seem to find a good point of view to look upon it, another option opens itself up. It’s been this way for me for a long time, even before I felt that I was a communist.
My old stance was as such. I felt that, because marijuana is incredibly toxic to people and can put others in an unsafe environment (i.e. stoned drivers), it should be outright illegal. That way, society is kept safe from those that would abuse marijuana and we don’t have to deal with too many people that suffer adverse health effects from it. I felt this was the only logical conclusion given the circumstances; after all, marijuana is incredibly unsafe to ingest anyway. Why allow people to harm themselves that way, right? Marijuana has been proven to be harmful to humans (http://www.ukcia.org/research/AdverseEffectsOfCannabis.pdf), just the same as many other drugs have been. It’s not hard to find out that things like cocaine will destroy your body from within if used poorly. And so, my ideology of the past was shaped.
However, over the years I’ve begun to look at things differently. I’ve had to consider the successes of more liberal drug policies in nations like Portugal and the Netherlands (http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-5156590.html), both of which have lower rates of marijuana usage than we do. My excuse for their successes was always tied to the fact that I believed having a smaller and better educated populace meant that they could enact these policies without as much trouble as we would expect were we to enact them. And yet, I have realized by now that peoples of other countries are more alike than we realize. Just because a nation does better on international education standards than we do, doesn’t mean they don’t have people that are just as stupid as some of our own idiots. And population sizes mean nothing as long as countless ideas and communication exist within a nation. In the meantime, I have had to view the failures of tougher drug policies both at home and abroad. We already know that our drug policy results in countless arrests and seizures which damage our country as a whole (http://www.justice.gov/dea/statistics.html). In Mexico and Brazil, the war on drugs has resulted in countless deaths and enormous amounts of violence (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/world/americas/mexico-updates-drug-war-death-toll-but-critics-dispute-data.html, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ilona-szabo/war-on-drugs-brazil_b_1423864.html). All of this occurs because we are too strict on drug laws, and because we attack those who use them with prejudice. And so, my stance changed to a much more leftist one. One of the few things I could ever agree on with conservatives is now gone. Oh well.
Let me enumerate my full position, so nobody remains confused. I support decriminalization of marijuana, to a degree. In terms of possession, I feel like anyone carrying 10 grams or less of marijuana should not be penalized. Honestly, 10 grams of any substance is fairly little, and so this seems like a reasonable restriction. Because marijuana has differing effects depending on the person, we cannot now whether 10 grams would be too much or too little to be dangerous. However, I do believe that possession of more than the aforementioned amount should be penalized with a fine. The size of that fine would be dependent on how much over the limit the accused had on them, although I would set a minimum of 50 dollars. I believe that selling marijuana recreationally should still be illegal; you should not be able to sell marijuana on the street without regulations in place. I believe only restaurants and medical dispensaries should be able to sell marijuana to the public, and that neither should be able to advertise weed as a product. I don’t think they should be able to sell copious amounts of marijuana, and they should not be able to sell weed to customers younger than the age of 18. They shouldn’t be allowed to carry more than a set amount of marijuana on the premises of their business; after all, no business should be dependent on selling weed. I also believe that the sale and purchase of marijuana should be heavily taxed, at least in comparison to other commercial products. This would discourage casual sellers and businesses looking to cash in on “easy money”, allowing only dedicated and law-abiding businesses to get in on the sales.
No person should be arrested for possession of marijuana unless they are selling it without the legal right to do so; in that case, I would find arresting the accused to be more than acceptable. Depending on the severity of the offense, I would suggest a couple months to a year in jail for those selling weed illegally. I also believe that possession of hefty amounts of marijuana should warrant possible arrest, if at all necessary. Lastly, smoking weed should be illegal in public. I believe that, should people want to use it, they can do so within their own home or an establishment that is licensed to sell the drug. Marijuana is still a dangerous drug which can impair the senses, making users a danger to society if they are stoned in public. Oh, and I still think that, other than the 10-gram possession exemption, I feel that the laws concerning minors and marijuana should still remain fairly strict. Minors should not be able to purchase or use marijuana; this is one thing I believe I’ll never falter on.
And now, onto one final point I’d like to make, and that’s medical marijuana. I’ve always supported medical marijuana, even in the past. The reason behind this is because we’ve known for a while that marijuana can have health benefits for those suffering from some of the deadliest diseases known to man, such as cancer (http://www.articlefeeder.com/Diseases__Conditions_and_Treatments/The_Benefits_of_Medical_Marijuana_for_Cancer_Patients.html). The prime reasoning used for medical marijuana on cancer patients is that chemotherapy ruins a patient’s appetite, and that the consumption of weed can restore that appetite. This is helpful to the recovery process. As such, I am more than willing to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate as long as the drug can be used positively for those suffering. Why deny those hurting the worst something that might make their days a little better?
And that is all for this week. I should have the second portion of this month-ending post up by next week, so don’t be worrying about that. I hope I’ve provided the analysis and points everyone is looking for, along with a full explanation of my beliefs. If you have questions, criticisms, or otherwise, I encourage you to express them in the comments here. If you would prefer other means of communication, my email at firstname.lastname@example.org is open if necessary. My Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail accounts are open as well, along with my DeviantArt account. This is KnoFear, signing off.