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Should Marijuana Be Legal Just Because it is Safe?

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marijuana prohibitionWorking with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and writing for the Weed Blog, I am constantly surrounded by legalization activists. My Twitter feed, my Facebook news feed, and casual conversations at different events generally focuses on marijuana legalization in some kind of way. However, the line I constantly hear is something along the lines of “marijuana is safe! How could something as safe as marijuana be illegal!?”

Last January I wrote an article about what happens after marijuana legalization in which I argued that we should begin the push to legalize other substances or push for lowering the drinking age (and most likely the smoking age), and ending the Drug War as a whole. In response to this article, I got plenty of less savory messages and not so happy comments, and this surprised me. To me, I thought this was a message that marijuana legalizers could get on board with! However, it is evident that many are actively against ending the Drug War as a whole, but are only interested in what they personally enjoy to be legalized.

It is also very common to see marijuana legalizers be actively supporting the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco today. That is absolutely insane! I agree that marijuana is much safer than alcohol or tobacco, but is that really the point? I do not support the legalization of marijuana solely because it is a safer way for people to have fun on the weekend, even if that is a nice side-effect of legalization.

I support marijuana legalization because it begins to hammer the nails into the coffin of one of the most destructive institutions in the United States today: the Drug War. I recognize that prohibition doesn’t work, and never will, whether it be of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, firearms, heroine, cocaine, etc, etc. The government does not have the means of eliminating this behavior from society, and as a result money continues to be poured into the DEA and other law enforcement agencies in order to destroy people’s property, kill people’s dogs, destroy people’s future, and so on.

Furthermore, are people not the sole owner of their body? As an owner of something, do you have any exceptions to how you can use something you own other than not using it to hurt others? On my car, I can put any bumper stickers I want. In my house, I can listen to any music or television show I enjoy. In my bedroom, I may sleep with any person I desire (granted that they consent of course). For my body, I can eat any food, drink any size soda, or use any substance I please. That is the beauty of freedom. With this, I am reminded of a Ron Swanson quote from the show Parks and Rec: “The whole point of this country is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds, and die of a heart attack at 43, YOU CAN! You are free to do so. To me that is beautiful.”

So, while I agree that marijuana is safer than alcohol and any other recreational drug around, what does that really matter? By saying you are against marijuana prohibition, but support other prohibition, you are missing the real point for why marijuana should be legalized. Marijuana prohibition isn’t an awful thing because of what it is prohibiting, but by the very fact that it is prohibiting something in the first place.

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About Author

John Knetemann currently attends South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where he is a chapter leader for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. John has had a passion for drug policy reform since he was a senior in high school, and hasn’t looked back since. Along with his work in SSDP, he is a part of the North American Executive Board for Students For Liberty. You can find John on Twitter.