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Should Marijuana Be Legal Just Because it is Safe?


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.


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.


  1. I strongly believe that marijuana should be legalized throughout the United States. The reason why it was made illegal in the first place is because, in the early 1900’s white people wanted to find a way to get all the Mexican’s out of the U.S. But obviously, they couldn’t be arrested for being Mexican. So they thought “What is something that Mexican’s love to use?” and the answer was Marijuana. So in the end it was made illegal just for that reason.

  2. Look at drug scedules 1 pots on there cocaine and heroin it also describes them being in doctors meds its under the probition time when the first illiglized pot doctors use meth cocaine speed lsd and other shit hell i think viagras extasy opps i didnt say that

  3. The government takes cures and covers them up and threatens the person to shut the fuck up the goverment would rather kill people to make a greedy profit then actally help it certin people know stuff others dont and the recipies for it when i say dont be a dumb fucking tard i mean theres no money in healthy people or drugs wouldnt have side effects to put you on more drugs this nation is nothing more then our own government being a cartel

  4. As well as everything is an optical ollusion your 10% is actally 90% so dont ho there with me

  5. When you fatiege the adrenals addiction occures till they fail and if you belive in junk science then your ollusion of doctors are not safe to your helth there good in sergery and causing addiction only nothing else there treatment for cancer is bogus huxley made a cancer cure in the 50s and the goverment took it that why doctors are stupid there goverment approved to kill you it is sad to know people are so iggnorant becuse the lack intelligence or education dude from my point dont take american findings by doctors take out of the country findings of doctors there are good reasons for it doctors in america are so druged up from there own drugs they wouldnt know real science from synthetic science from there ass from a hole in the ground and a flower poping out of there ass and why the fuckers there in the first place and you have never been damged till your central nervis system shuts off like mine dose and i have to take blood warmers like salts and licorice root thyroid medication and clean out my kidneys and up my heart rate do to lack of electrlights so if you really want to keep talking and beliving in dollussions resurch on junk science is pure bull shit when you find this out ill tell you more i did my own resurch and found out were the doctors fucked up i am self tought i even tryed the natruals on my self and found out which ones work and which ones dont as well as that the ones i take is for dignosis i never got from doctors but should have got or they wouldnt work period so that tell you something right there dont be a fucking tard man

  6. Correct of course crime has dropped in Denver as well go to Tn pills meth and now the people who need pills are treated like criminals end result heroin use will skyrocket and people in pain still suffer !!!

  7. How about moonshine which is legal !!!!????? Cannabis is the safe !nixon fucked this country up real good !

  8. Well moonshine is legal yes it is Tn fla ga most any liquor store sells ole smokey or popcorn suttons alcohol in moderation does not kill but you can die from drinking an entire bottle of moonshine whereas you can smoke the strongest weed as much and as long as you want and you will not die !!

  9. This isn’t true. Look up opium addiction from the 19th century. Happened commonly to rich people with no PTSD or anything, when they were “prescribed” laudanum by questionable doctors.

    However, here’s why you’re almost right: The sort of opiates which are produced for medical use nowadays are actually pretty damn hard to get a high from. They’ve been designed to be hard to get a high from. There are other opiates which are much easier to get highs from, which are not in common use. The switch from opium to morphine was the first step in this trend.

    As for PTSD, the correct — proven to be most effective — treatment is EMDR, which is related to hypnotism. I happen to know about this.

    Self-medication is often a really bad idea; if people haven’t done their research properly they self-medicate with the *wrong treatment*. This is the leading cause of drug abuse — people looking for a drug to treat their problem (usually a problem doctors aren’t helping with) and picking totally the wrong drug. (Lots of people self-medicate with alcohol, which is bad for almost everything.)

  10. Nobody uses opiates EXCEPT for pain relief. People not in pain don’t get much joy from the stuff. Look up ” PTSD opiates ” for more about the pain

  11. Explain why only small numbers get “addicted”? That fact alone says that drugs are not “addictive”. Well what is?

    “Pain” explains way more than “addiction”.

  12. Vaccines are mandatory because they are not protecting you (the vaccine recipient), they are protecting other people FROM you. Look up Typhoid Mary.

    They are a very rare exception to the general rule that we shouldn’t force people to do things. But they have been proven conclusively to be worth it, because epidemics SUCK.

  13. That’s a sensible and well-thought out comment.

    I think, however, that it is important to eliminate *actual prohibition* entirely for all drugs. There should be no drugs where possession and research is completely prohibited, the way it is for Schedule I right now. As long as there are any, the Drug Warriors will have a drug to plant on people who they want to target for false arrest and imprisonment. And it’s impossible to do proper medical research to prove usefulness and safety on Schedule I drugs, but it’s possible with Schedule II drugs.

    For now, shifting all the non-marijuana drugs from Schedule I to Schedule II status would eliminate most of the potential for corrupt cops to plant evidence and entrap people. (Of course, marijuana belongs on Schedule V, at most, and needs to move there as fast as possible.)

  14. They’ve been there; they know prohibition Just Doesn’t Work.

    I am not a fan of recreational drug use. I think people need to be very cautious about using any drugs. However, making drugs *illegal* makes no sense whatsoever. You should only make a drug illegal if it is commonly used to poison other people… and we don’t even do that (rat poison is still sold on the shelf!)

  15. It’s called the “addictive personality”, and it’s a real thing. Some people, maybe 10% of the population, are prone to getting addicted — to *anything*, exercise, sex, etc. Those people need to be careful about that — going off one drug usually just means they go on another drug. Because of cheap and ready availability and advertising of alcohol, most of these people are “alcoholics” in our society.

    The other 90% of the population are unlikely to get addicted.

  16. Opiates are addictive only if you do NOT use them for pain relief — basically, only if you overdose!

    Basically, if you take enough opiates to relieve all your pain, and then take more, you start getting high and risking psychological addiction. If you just take enough to take the edge off your pain, there is basically zero chance of addiction.

    You can get psychologically addicted to any kind of high. Even a runner’s high (This is pretty common, actually, and athletes routinely get addicted to it and then injure themselves chasing their runner’s high even when their doctors have told them to rest in bed.) We don’t try to prohibit that, ’cause it would be stupid to try to prohibit it.

  17. Alcohol is an awful awful drug, but we tried prohibiting it. And it didn’t work — it backfired and led to more and worse alcohol abuse.

    So yeah, we need to legalize them all, no matter how dangerous. If large numbers of people will use a drug when it’s illegal, it needs to be legal. (And regulated, so that big companies can’t advertise it to elementary school kids with hard sell tactics.) Making popular things illegal breeds contempt for the legal system.

  18. It’s called FREEEDOM!!!
    IMO It should have been illegal for Marijuana to become illegal in the very first place. This whole drug war has been a fear based fleecing of OUR tax dollars and the public since the very beginning.
    They can’t keep drugs out of the most secure prisons in the US, HOW COULD THEY HAVE EXPECTED TO BE ABLE TO DO SO ON THE STREETS?
    The beauty here is that many people are now becoming more aware of the insane policies that so many of our politicians hold on to.

  19. Karen Ferguson on

    Thank you for this post. It is mind-opening, validating and needed. I needed it to confirm all that I’ve felt over the years regarding ‘big pharma.’ Hence, my reluctance to use any psycho-drugs that seemingly lobotomize our psyches and spirits. Thank you for addressing the spiritual aspects as well; sorely needed.

  20. Punctuation is your friend! I tried to read your screed but got a headache instead. At least try…

  21. Whyiowa4medical on

    I have been involved in research as well as a professional in the medical and psychiatric sciences since I was 20. LSD has killed no one except the irresponsible (please refer to the experiences of Dr. Albert Hoffmann in the documentary “Hoffmann’s Potion”). Please refer to Ann Blake Tracy PHD and see if your opinion on Prozac, Nuvigil, and Provigil (and this family of drugs far to numerous to mention) does not undergo a radical change. I do not understand your reference to Fentanyl as it is some 40 times more potent than H-E-R-O-I-N and is only safe in the hands of an anesthesiologist. There are many compounds used for cluster headaches, but psilocybin and its other component psilocin relieves them for months, not hours (which do you prefer?). When I was transferred to 45 mg. of morphine I suffered maddening withdrawals and had to have the SSNRIs reduced over the period of a month (they were sold to the medical community as a safer form of hydrocodone/codeine under the name tramadol, or ultracet). Due to a recurrent mononucleosis my first year at our state medical university was interrupted, as they accepted no credits from a private university my endocrinology professor singled me out to assist in research as medically astute. In getting to know him I discovered he was the doctor who had to report to Nixon there was no LD 50 for cannabis. This once world renowned physician was promptly transferred to the VA hospital in Iowa City where he applied to the university and was immediately hired. He detested the lies he was forced to accommodate as a top researcher and Army Doctor, so as myths concerning drugs were spread, he targeted his research to their accuracy. I saw more errors as well as flat out lies concerning many drugs that a conversation such as this sickens me. To a one, these drugs have medical uses not to mention spiritual as the Germans use LSD in cancer related depression with tremendous success. Does our government use even THC in its studies on cannabis? No, take some time and look up research drugs, you will find they use compounds that can and do kill. I would repeat the research I was a part of if I could give these studies any credence, I do not and neither does a large portion of the civilized free world. I estimate that I have had over 300 LSD experiences, 125 Peyote experiences, and several Psilocybin experiences with no intellectual damage, no emotional damage, and I feel like a better man for having had them. During my time in the field the hallucinogens have gone from safe for native use to hard drugs for a white man.

  22. Yes, too many people are still making the same old arguments about addiction, and crime. But continuing the same old way of criminalizing drug use, is pointless, it has failed miserably. Addicts belong in treatment, and if people commit crimes to buy drugs, punish them for the crime they committed. No one should face felony charges for simply possessing an intoxicant.

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