“KNOW YOUR DOPE FIEND. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT! You will not be able to see his eyes because of Tea-Shades, but his knuckles will be white from inner tension and his pants will be crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can’t find a rape victim. He will stagger and babble when questioned. He will not respect your badge. The Dope Fiend fears nothing. He will attack, for no reason, with every weapon at his command-including yours. BEWARE. Any officer apprehending a suspected marijuana addict should use all necessary force immediately. One stitch in time (on him) will usually save nine on you. Good luck.”
-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Seems ridiculous, right? It’s true that these examples are from an earlier time in America’s history, but is there any way that some of this cannabis-related panic still exists? This is the 21st century, and modern science has brought us a plethora of information about the positive qualities of marijuana. However, it would appear that there are people remaining who won’t allow their opinion to be swayed. I can’t walk into the White House and demand that marijuana become legal, but what I can do is equip you with enough information to make you an educated citizen. In the struggle for legalization, education is a vital step to reaching understanding. If a legion of informed protesters took to the streets, to the internet, to the presses, there would be no way that the officials who are keeping cannabis illegal could ignore this movement any longer. It’s time put the myths and mysteries to rest! It’s time for people to rethink their opinions! It’s definitely time for America to move into a new phase- a phase where marijuana is not only legal, but also an essential ingredient for a flourishing economy.
John Gettman is a public-policy consultant, and also the author of a report that included some amazing information about just how much money is generated by marijuana sales. It turns out that the market value of cannabis produced in America exceeds $35 billion, making this controversial plant the top cash crop across the country. Many people took notice of this research and decided to conduct some of their own. Dr. Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in economics, wrote his own report on the subject, entitled “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition.” He brings to light the fact that approximately $7.7 billion a year are spent by the government for prohibition enforcement. It’s disappointing that the government is choosing to lose almost $8 billion a year, considering Dr. Friedman punched the numbers and discovered that if marijuana was taxed at the same level as alcohol and cigarettes it would generate $6.2 billion in revenue.
So what are we waiting for? We’ve all heard the news reports, and it definitely sounds like the government could use $6.2 billion a year. The only thing standing in the way of this tremendous economic gain is the fact that drugs shouldn’t be legalized, and marijuana is a drug—a brain-eating, cancer-causing, addictive killer. Which is probably what you would say if your information about marijuana was coming from the time period that the propaganda in the beginning of this piece was from. In 1997, the UCLA School of Medicine began a study on 243 marijuana smokers that lasted over the course of 8 years. There were no significant discrepancies in the rate of decline in lung function between habitual marijuana smokers and people who had never even smoked before. It was also discovered that cannabis does not cause brain damage, genetic damage, or damage to the immune system. Two of the greatest myths were dispelled when the team at UCLA concluded that cannabis does NOT kill brain cells, nor does it induce violent behavior. The last line of the lab report stated “No differences were noted between even quite heavy marijuana smoking and non-smoking of marijuana.”
The first American law regarding cannabis was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 1619, and it required that every household grow hemp, calling it “a strategic necessity” (“Legalization of Marijuana”). Marijuana hasn’t changed a bit since 1619, only public opinion about it has. The fact remains that cannabis is just a plant with a long list of pros and a short list of cons that follow it wherever it goes. In a time where prisons are overflowing and national debt abounds, can America afford to keep this prohibition going? Could it be possible that marijuana is still “a strategic necessity”?
“Legalization of Marijuana.” Legalization of Marijuana. n.p., n.d. Web. 25 February 2012.
“Marijuana is top U.S. cash crop, pro-legalization analysis says.” The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company, 18 December 2009. Web. 25 February 2012.
“Milton Friedman, 500+ Economists Call for Marijuana Regulation Debate; New Report Projects $10-14 Billion Annual Savings and Revenues.” Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States. The Marijuana Policy Project, n.d. Web. 25 February 2012.