marijuana washington state felony drug possession
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Why I Support Marijuana Legalization And Regulation

marijuana prohibition legalization regulationI had an interesting talk with an anti-marijuana fan recently. The person, unaware of my blog or frequency of marijuana consumption, asked me how I felt about Oregon Measure 91, which would legalize and regulate marijuana in Oregon if voters approve it during the 2014 Election. I told him that I planned on voting ‘yes’ on Measure 91. That’s all I said. Yet, somehow he acted like I said all kinds of things because he went off on me.

He claimed that I only want to legalize marijuana because I want to get high, that I’m like every other lazy ‘doper’ out there, that I’m hopelessly addicted, and that I want to make it easier for kids to get access to marijuana so they can consume it, become addicted, and move onto harder drugs. Rather than argue with someone who is clearly full of reefer madness, I simply thanked him for his comments, gave him a business card, and told him to keep an eye out for this article.

I support marijuana legalization and regulation for many reasons, none of which involve getting kids addicted to marijuana or anything else. For starters, I support marijuana legalization because I feel that marijuana prohibition is a racist policy. Blacks consume marijuana at the same rate that whites do, yet they are arrested at almost four times the rate on average. In some areas like St. Louis, they are up to eight times as likely to be arrested. Marijuana prohibition is a way to perpetuate racial profiling and racist practices without ever having to be directly confronted for it. My white cousins get a warning, my black cousins go to jail, even though what they are doing is the exact same thing.

I support marijuana legalization because I feel a regulated marijuana market is better than an unregulated black market. Cartels and gangs are heavily involved in marijuana production and sales, and they use their profits to exert untold misery on society in America and beyond. I would rather see people asked for identification when they buy marijuana to ensure they are an adult rather than a drug dealer who will sell to anyone with money.

I support marijuana legalization because only after marijuana is legalized will I feel like I can be my ‘whole self.’ This is a concept that I first heard at a Students for Sensible Drug Policy event in Denver in 2012. One of my heroes Kris Krane was talking about how he likes working in drug policy reform because he can be his ‘whole self.’ He doesn’t have to lie about how he chooses to relax, or medicate, or lie about what he does in his downtime or what his hobbies are (all of which involve marijuana of course). He can express himself to the fullest without limitations or having people stereotype him as some lazy ‘doper.’ Once marijuana is legalized in Oregon and nationwide, I will finally be able to be my ‘whole self’ and if people can’t handle it, they can’t try to narc me out.

Which leads me into my next point. I support marijuana legalization because I’m tired of having to worry and look over my shoulder. I don’t consume marijuana in public. I don’t drive after consuming marijuana. I in no way affect or harm another person when I consume marijuana in private settings. However, I have to worry every minute of every day that a cop might try to search my house, or that a cop might find a nug I forgot I put in my glove box once upon a time. Once a cop finds marijuana, they have the option to rip your life apart, even if you haven’t been high for weeks. I have dreamed for more than two decades to not have to worry about that anymore.

I support marijuana legalization because I have seen how the ‘marijuana scarlet letter’ can ruin someone’s life. I had a friend get caught with 3.5 grams of marijuana. He was by all accounts a great athlete, student, citizen, friend, etc. But because he was black, and had marijuana in his pocket, the cop used the opportunity to charge him with possession with intent to distribute as well as driving under the influence, even though he hadn’t consumed marijuana for two days. He went before an un-sympathetic judge who convicted him of a felony. He lost his job, his college financial assistance, and now can’t even coach his son’s football team because he has the ‘marijuana scarlet letter.’ All for a personal amount of marijuana that he had just purchased and was driving home to store.

I support marijuana legalization because it reduces the chance that I may be fired from my job. Even in legal marijuana states, an employee can be fired for failing a drug test. However, once marijuana is legalized, and the stigma is largely removed, it reduces the chances of even being requested to urinate in a cup. People often wonder why I don’t do media interviews, or accept speaking engagements at events. It’s because I can’t afford to lose my cubicle job, and if my boss were to see my face in the media associated with marijuana, I can virtually guarantee the next time I saw him he would have a cup on his desk. Maybe he still will after marijuana becomes legal, but I think the chances are less likely than they are right now with marijuana prohibition in full force.

  • Mark

    One of the toughest things to do in support of legalization is to explain why you support it because the answer is not short or single faceted. But in person all you can do is give a short and incomplete answer. This leaves opponents with a jillion come-back lines about things you didn’t comment on because of limited time. And most of the time it’s the same old things you’ve heard a gazillion times. That having been said, my short answer is: The law is more damaging and wasteful than the outlawed activity. And a slightly longer answer is: Because of the terrible waste and personal damage that results when something that is an understood and accepted part of our culture, just as alcohol or tobacco is, is deemed to be criminally punishable behavior. The law would have us believe that lots and lots of decent productive people are actually law breakers that at any unlucky moment could have their career direction and their lives drastically changed for the worse. A lot of well known politicians have admitted to smoking (and therefor possessing) marijuana. If that moment had been their unlucky moment, it’s unlikely they would have become President, Speaker of the House, Representative, Senator etcetera. They are no less guilty simply because they didn’t get caught. This weight needs to be lifted from everyone’s shoulders. If you don’t use marijuana, then chances are that someone you care about does. Do you really want to see them lose everything over a culturally accepted activity?

  • Guestr

    Why wouldn’t you drive after smoking? Seems ridiculous to me. I drive better stoned.

    • RUkidding

      DUI is not something to advocate for. Act like an adult.

      • painkills2

        If we’re talking about a pain patient, that driver may have a high THC count, but it’s more than likely that they wouldn’t be stoned. Just sayin’.

        • DUI is for assholes

          Funny the OP said “I drive better stoned” and that is DUI. Additionally you are not legal to drive while taking most narcotic pain meds because it can hinder your ability to maintain control of your vehicle. We all know THC in your system does not equal being stoned genius *wink*. Marginalizing DUI is what makes cannabis consumers look like total ass-hats whether you can drive stoned or not. I normally appreciate your point of view but being a victim of a severe DUI accident where the driver was ‘just’ stoned and not drunk I can positively say I don’t care if its for pain management or recreation, driving under the influence of anything is a risk to everyone, just sayin…

          • painkills2

            I counter your incorrect statement:

            “Additionally you are not legal to drive while taking most narcotic pain meds because it can hinder your ability to maintain control of your vehicle.”

            With this one from Fortune Magazine in 2009:

            (Incidentally, the FDA-approved warnings for Marinol — pure THC — do not flatly forbid patients from driving under its influence. Rather, they simply caution patients not to do so “until it is established that they are able to tolerate the drug and to perform such tasks safely.”)

            And this one from Canada:

            The most common side-effects are sedation and foggy thinking. “You can also get high,” says Dr. Mary Lynch, director of the pain management unit at Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. “But many of our patients adjust the dose so they can avoid the side-effects and aim for the therapeutic effects, similar to the way we use any drug.”

            I also counter with my actual experience of over 10 years of driving on prescription drugs. I was never stopped, never questioned, and there was never a suggestion that I would not be able to drive while under treatment (except for the warning label on the drug, like for Marinol). I would add that I am a much safer drive with bud than I ever was with pills.

            I do not advocate driving under the influence, but I am very concerned about criminalizing pain patients who choose medical cannabis over Big Pharma products. New per se level laws have already made criminals of the majority of people who consume cannabis — laws coming to a city and state near you.

          • DUI is for assholes

            Well that’s about as ignorant as saying just because you stop at every unmarked intersection to make sure no one else is coming that stop signs should be banned. The level laws may be screwed up and need revising but dude let me tell you something, people in general are stupid, lazy, careless and self-serving and most people under the influence of intoxicants (even if used for pain management) are even worse.
            The simple fact that you are making excuses for driving under the influence IN GENERAL and fail to take into account that not everyone is capable of operating a vehicle safely while using anything that MAY degrade their already crappy driving habits shows that your bias could quiet easily lead to innocent victims of DUI drivers. Funny how your concern for pain patients protection under law does not extend to the others on the road that may be affected by some witless asshole that says my right to medicine overrides your right to not get killed by said witless asshole.

          • painkills2

            When you drive, you take on the risks of every other driver you come in contact with — kinda like sex, just less intimate. We have passed laws that require driver’s licenses and insurance, but that will not stop bad drivers.

            But in case you didn’t know, more drivers are hurt and killed on the roads today because of distracted driving, not driving under the influence.

            Who are you to tell a cancer patient on pain medication that they can’t drive to their doctor’s appointment or to the grocery store? Should every American currently taking any kind of drug that could alter their driving abilities (including caffeine) now use chauffeurs instead?

            I am sorry that you were tragically affected by someone else’s negligence… And I am sorry about every pot smoker who is now in jail. I am sorry about all the families who have been laid to waste because of the drug war. I am sorry about all the pain patients who have committed suicide because they did not have access to relief.

            But I am not sorry for advocating that disabled people be allowed independent transportation — and the right to use it.

          • DUI is for assholes

            I agree 100% with your last few lines but therein lies the crux of the issue. At what point do we not allow a disabled person (IE, cannabis consumer, for whatever reason) independent transportation? There has to be a limit and there have to be laws to define those limits and they both have to be fair and unbiased. I know you feel that you have been safe and cautious for the last decade while driving (and I appreciate that fact) but that does not mean that Guestr (OP) getting stoned and driving is okay just because you have managed to do it. I know a couple career drunks that have avoided getting DUIs or harming anyone for almost 50 years driving under the influence. It does not mean that there don’t need to be laws to prevent others from doing it. Additionally the last time I checked I am not having sex with thousands of other motorists and their families racing at 80 mph down the interstate while getting stoned….am I missing something Pain?

            We do assume the risks every time we choose to interact with others in any form but seriously, before laws were corrupted by greed, politics, bias and all the other untold reasons, they were put in place as guide lines for the lowest common denominators in society who are to ignorant or unwilling to use caution and common sense before compounding the risks we all assume. Unfortunately we do not live in a utopian society that allows total freedom without the need for laws and restrictions because the population is superlative. As an advocate for legalization I am on your side but we seem to part ways on the limits of legalization and as I said before, therein lies the crux of the issue the OP brought to light with his, Yoh dude, spark it up and lets roll brah, mentality.

          • painkills2

            “Additionally the last time I checked I am not having sex with thousands of other motorists and their families racing at 80 mph down the interstate while getting stoned….am I missing something Pain?”

            No analogy is perfect, but driving under the influence is kinda like having sex when you’re drunk and/or with a stranger — risky, and may cause harm to both parties (as long as you believe STDs and unwanted pregnancies are harmful). And I think a car crash can be described as intimate — especially between the cars. Isn’t “kissing the bricks” a familiar term in car racing?

            And I’m not against having rules for driving under the influence for cannabis, as with alcohol, but until there is an accurate way to test for cannabis intoxication, it’s not fair, and a lot of innocent people are going to be hurt. And since drug laws affect minorities more than white people, it will be the poor, disabled people of color who are hurt the most.

            See, your focus is on the irresponsible, and mine is on the disabled.

    • shelly

      You think you do but you don’t. I just witnessed my sister ( who says she functions better high) almost run a stop sign shes navigated for 30 years without incident and almost get hit by another car. People, don’t kid yourselves. If we didn’t get more relaxed and altered we wouldn’t smoke it!

    • JIMMYLIMO

      Statistical studies show drivers who are stoned have a 1.8x (almost twice) increased chance of an accident. But drunk drivers (0.08%) are 12-13 times more likely, and the more you drink, the greater the risk (0.10 has 15-40 times more, depending on age). Of course if you blow 0.25 or greater, you could die from alcohol poisoning… Stoned drivers are WAY safer than drunk driver, pure and simple.

  • Thanks Johnny for another great post. Yes, I support (re)legalization for all those reasons.I think we should be asking prohibitionists why we should continue with such a dangerous experiment as prohibition. Is it because they’re afraid of pissing off the cartels? Do they want their children and grandchildren to have an easier time getting pot than cigarettes? Do they want to fill the pockets of the prison industry and drain the pockets of taxpayers? They should be forced to defend their position with sound evidence, not the swill produced by Volkow and company.

    • Gerhard Balthasar

      A top police officer from Germany argued (in a conference yesterday) a black market is better controllable than a regulated one. And of course, legalization would send the wrong signal to children.

      • Sarijuana

        That is just crazy. I hope there is someone there to rebuff such a blatant lie.

  • Choom Gang

    I hope the guy you talked to reads this and opens his mind to the other side of the argument. I hope he takes a few minutes and googles the points you made. And, I’m sure, if he gave it a try, he would probably not have a hangover, and would feel well rested the next day. Peace, brother.

  • painkills2

    I support marijuana legalization because I strongly believe it will ease a lot of suffering in our country. Legalization will bring down the rates of suicide, depression, and domestic violence, too. (And if you think most Americans aren’t suffering, just ask your maid.)

    September is Suicide Prevention Month:

    9/7/14, Veteran’s suicide draws attention to Veterans Affairs’ use of painkillers

    http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/veteran-s-suicide-draws-attention-to-veterans-affairs-use-of/article_a07a3527-0f33-5cca-9cb5-a5d198b8f193.html

  • Cyndysub

    There are no shortages of idiots ever. “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”

    Albert Einstein

  • freetheweed

    Marijuana should be legalized so people using it for medical or recreational purchases will no longer have to worry about what dangerous chemicals may have been sprayed on the black market marijuana they are purchasing.

    • freetheweed

      Above should read recreational purposes

      • painkills2

        Ah, quit dissing the underground market… for many patients, it can be a lifeline.

  • Mary Miller

    And another reason for legalization (back on the medical tract here): to prevent deaths from Dravet’s syndrome, about 2 weeks ago a 9 year old girl died in NY while her parent’s waited for Medical Cannabis to be accepted, and have dispensaries in their area. I hear they are planning to sue.

    And I haven’t touched on myself: I am a prisoner in the state because I HAVE to use cannabis as my only form of pain relief, being severely allergic to opioids, and having had ‘serotonin syndrome’ using any form of antidepressants, sleep medications, or anything effecting the increase of serotonin in my system. What does this mean? If I take anything that is GABA or pre GABA for pain, sleep, etc I could die.

    If I leave the state, I could be arrested for bringing anything associated with Cannabis, from my vaporizer to even the minutest amount of this medicine. It’s the equivalent of being under ‘state arrest’ because medical need.

  • chistiwala

    hello there.. im just cougth by the police last month.. then now im stop from taking thc.. actually i have one problem what people call evil eye.. i cant sleep at night.. my mind thinking a lot of bad thing to do.. i dowan take pillss from doctor they thing im crazy shit.. my head its like gona blow at certain time.. and now im always thinking about to runn till ive tired.. is there something legaal like thc.. im in big trouble.. they cant understand me.. im not taking thc for a month.. my head cold!! i wana be normal… one thing if some people outthere have the evil eye problem just give them thc to make them chill… its not medicine but can anyone out there belive what im saying??

    • painkills2

      Your “evil eye” sounds a little like paranoia. Perhaps you should seek out a therapist? Having no access to cannabis should not keep you from seeking other treatment options, you know?

  • JIMMYLIMO

    I support legalization because..
    1- Our Declaration of Independence claims we have “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”
    2- Americans should have “Freedom of Choice” between a non-toxic, gentle herb and proven KILLER, highly addictive and violence-inducing alcohol.
    3- Continued prohibition will cost BILLION$ in enforcement, prosecution and incarceration…
    4- Legalization will bring BILLION$ in income from new jobs and tax revenue to help with new schools, drug education and rehabilitation
    5- It’s been 45 freekin’ YEARS since Woodstock !!!!
    6- I live in Weed, California… that’s right, WEED, CA ! “High on the Slopes of Mt Shasta”. Half of the old storefronts on Main Street are empty. Legalization would be a HUGE boost to tourism here. We need people to come and open cannabis and hemp related businesses…
    7- http://visitweed.com/

    • painkills2

      There’s also a Weed, New Mexico :D

  • Northern_Lights

    I support legalization because it’s the correct thing to do in our society. The entire premise of marijuana’s prohibition was solely based on racism to begin with. The lies that have been perpetuated through the decades are sickening… and continue to be as well.

    I haven’t used in years… especially now that I have a daughter. I live in a backwards state in which my life would essentially be ruined if I was caught with even the tiniest amount.

    Until there is legalization in this state… I will fight for its use as medicine and finally the removal from its illegality.

  • Patricia Silverman

    I support legalization because the controlled substances act is unconstitutional, how can you have a constitutional law that required public servants to lie which the Drug czar has to do, the whole thing is a fraud put on the citizens of this contry

  • Brion Eduardo

    I don’t even bother explaining to dedicated prohibitionists why I advocate for legalization. My energy is better spent in another arena, such as the significant crowd of “undecideds.”

    • Reggie

      Not just “the significant crowd of undecideds”, but the even more significant crowd of “supporters” that won’t bother voting unless someone lights a fire underneath them. You don’t have to change their minds philosophically, you just have to convince them that their vote (and getting off their lazy duffs) is significantly more important than their opinion.

  • Doc Deadhead

    Never has killed anyone………never will……………..nuf said.

    Tell the haters that they also have cannabidiol receptors in their bodies as well!

    You have no alcohol or opiate receptors, those are taken up by other receptors designed for other purposes and that’s why pot can not kill you, the proper receptor will ‘throttle’ the uptake to prevent overdosing.

    If pot doesn’t kill then there are no victims, without victims there is no need for a law.

  • Bassbeau

    I could not agree more!