I 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.