What is the real Marijuana question?

I think it’s time I tackled the subject of marijuana. In the mixed bag that is the dialogue about cannabis, why is marijuana treated as a controlled substance in the United States, and how does it differ from other legal drugs?

How dangerous is marijuana when compared to drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, which are not outlawed by federal statue? Significantly less dangerous. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an NIH agency, the major cannabis risks are breathing problems (if smoked), increased heart rate for 3 hours after use, and problems of child development during pregnancy. Hardly the evil drug that would warrant such rigid federal drug policy. There are also concerns about long-term use, but what drug – legal or otherwise – doesn’t have adverse effects in the long term with overuse? I’m not advocating aggressively for pot, but I’m unconvinced that marijuana EVER warranted the effort that has been exerted to keep it out of the mainstream.

More evidence of this is found in further comparison to the effects of our legalized drugs. Unlike alcohol users, marijuana users’ driving abilities do not deteriorate appreciably. Government-funded studies have proved this. Marijuana users are also very unlikely to exhibit violent behavior after use, which can’t be said for alcohol consumers. Tobacco use, while not noticeably altering user behaviors, is an immense burden on the country’s health system due to the drug’s well-known effects on the lungs, heart and circulatory system, and is responsible for more than 700,000 deaths dues to cancer and other smoking-induced disorders. Marijuana health complications are insignificant in comparison.

It’s always struck Random Spotter as hypocritical that we continue to allow deadly recreational drugs while our official position on a far more benign drug continues to drive policies that fill our jails and cost taxpayers billions. Pot has been legalized by voter initiative in 4 state and DC thus far. Four more states will have similar initiatives on the ballot in November. And, Vermont is the first state set to consider the issue through legislation in coming months. So, clearly, the state tides have turned. I think it’s time to stop the endless failure that is our federal policy on marijuana, create a sensible tax and distribution program, and call game over on the topic.

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