Number two in our series of guest blogs about marijuana. Jeremy Cue, a former student of the LACC.
In my experience, the war on drugs has gone from a vaguely slipshod effort with no real direction to an absolute catastrophe that has focused on the wrong things and seems more interested in destroying lives than saving them as many advocates claim. Among other problems in this tragic chapter in American history is the fact that marijuana has been thoroughly singled out and I can’t for a moment believe that this is fair.
Heroin does exponentially more harm to the human body than marijuana, but authorities seem more interested in pot than dealing with a genuine health hazard. Meanwhile, rural police are all but begging for help to shut down the plague of meth labs in their regions, all of which do more harm than marijuana does to its users in addition to being a powder keg.
Meanwhile, as millions of ordinary Americans continue to smoke marijuana all efforts aside, it seems as if the law is more concerned with viciously punishing pot smokers than helping them. Rather than asking why a depressed or bipolar person might be self-medicating with marijuana, we seem to be asking only how to most effectively punish them for doing so.
And if I need to point out how non-white offenders suffer much worse consequences than white pot smokers, you really haven’t been paying enough attention. It should also be noted that drunk driving kills more people a day than marijuana, but many drunk drivers can get their licenses back quicker than a marijuana user can be let out of prison for smoking in the safety of his or her own home.
I’m not saying we should just let marijuana be used without restrictions. We have rules and regulations concerning painkillers, alcohol, and tobacco and we’ve all learned to live with those laws. While the current and utterly misguided war on drugs is a travesty that is totally without reason, it is not unreasonable to put rules and regulations on the sale and use of marijuana.
Waiting to be eighteen to legally use marijuana isn’t that much different from waiting to be eighteen to use tobacco, and scientific studies indicate that starting marijuana at eighteen leads to a better, healthier life than starting tobacco at the same age. Similarly, most people under the influence of marijuana understand that they shouldn’t drive a car, just like when people go out for a few drinks, they plan to take a cab or have a designated driver. Any marijuana smoker with an ounce of sense sets aside a time and a place to get high and sticks to their plan until they’re sober enough to go home safely.
The situation is a mess, with more and more ordinary people having their lives ruined by marijuana charges while the authorities neglect to do anything but punish users and dealers of all drugs far too equally. Off the record, I’ve found that marijuana use on my part and the part of my friends was essential for handling the strain of working more hours than our parents while still pursuing education. Granted there absolutely were times when we needed to sober up, but it remained an important part of our lives. Punishing people for doing their best is even more criminal than pot when you think about it.