Prohibition is the problem

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The issue of marijuana prohibition is ridiculous. There is literally no cogent case for it; no scientific support, no ethical argument, nothing that justifies throwing thousands of people in jail for using pot. Nearly everything humans do ¬– driving cars, playing football, and riding bicycles – is more dangerous than smoking marijuana.    

One of the most common arguments used to defend the prohibition of marijuana revolves around the idea that these laws are in place to protect people from harming themselves. This is one of the most poorly-thought-out arguments I have ever heard. The government doesn’t give a fuck if citizens completely destroy themselves with their substance abuse; the prevalence of alcohol attests to that.

Alcohol is one of the most dangerous and damaging drugs available. Drinking alcohol serves no medicinal purpose, and a lethal dosage that is easily attained. It plays an undeniable role in car accidents, and its ability to relieve consumers of their inhibitions contributes to aggressive behaviour and physical violence. Indeed, studies have shown that alcohol is the number one drug used in date rape, above drugs such as Rohypnol.

Alcohol also has incredible potential for physical dependency, it destroys the liver, and is responsible for various neurological disorders when used for prolonged periods. None of these allegations can be leveled against marijuana.

Marijuana has multiple approved medical uses, no known lethal dosage, and recent studies have shown it doesn’t interfere with complex cognitive functioning as previously speculated. Many users attest to marijuana’s ability to increase creativity, humbleness, and sensitivity towards others. None of these statements can be made of alcohol.

If you approve of alcohol, not approving of marijuana makes you look like an uneducated goof.

Another argument is that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” This argument is a classic slippery slope fallacy. There has never been a conclusive study that proves marijuana will lead to harder drug use. Studies have noted that the illegal status of marijuana places people in situations where other drugs are readily available, increasing the chances users will take them.

The worst effect of marijuana prohibition is that the situation as a whole becomes much more dangerous and damaging when it’s sold on the black market and not regulated by the government.

There seems to be a widely-held belief that prohibiting marijuana will somehow curb public demand for it. This is an absurd assumption. As we saw with the prohibition of alcohol, making a substance illegal doesn’t decrease demand; it simply forces people to purchase their alcohol through the illegal market, and that is what we have right now with marijuana.

Drug dealers can make upwards of a 200 to 5,000 per cent return on their investment, tax free. These kinds of profits mean that it’s nearly impossible to suppress an underground market from emerging. What is worse, the illegal status of marijuana means that organized crime is often in control of distribution. This means that drug prohibition is directly responsible for providing the most stable and lucrative funding for organized crime. Research shows that around 80 per cent of all income for organized crime comes from illegal drug sales. In addition, because these drugs are on the black market, there is no protection under the law, meaning violence is the only way to settle disputes and protect investments.

Drug prohibition creates criminals instead of eliminating them; it creates violence, funds gangs, and guarantees an endless stream of suppliers due to high demand and large-potential profits.

If there is one thing worse about this issue than the potential for gang violence, it is the legions of peaceful, tax-paying citizens that are charged as criminals for non-violent drug offences.

Stephen Harper’s new crime bill promises to vastly increase the number of people who are incarcerated for drug offences and increase the duration of their sentences. This will undoubtedly overload the justice system with trials and arrests and fill our prisons.

Locking people up for using or possessing marijuana is insane. Marijuana hurts no one and decreases aggressive behaviour. It is appalling to throw people in jail for something that doesn’t impact the freedom of others. Prohibition creates nearly every negative outcome associated with marijuana, not the drug itself.

Legalization would decrease the prison population, cripple the finances of organized crime, allow the justice system to focus their energy on violent criminals, and create massive profits for our government.

I’m tired of listening to people groan on about this issue being cliché. Marijuana prohibition is one of the most poorly-rationalized, idiotic, destructive pieces of legislation in this country.

It’s time for a change.

Dietrich Neu
Features Editor

1 comment

  1. Mark 15 October, 2011 at 00:57

    While I do agree that marijuana prohibition does need to be re-looked at in this country, I do disagree with the statement that marijuana use never hurt anyone.  Although it is merely anecdotal evidence, I do have a friend that can't smoke pot without becoming, well basically an angry drunk, but he's super mellow when consuming alcohol.  One case is not enough to stop the movement towards a more lenient/legal system however.  The basic reality, in my humble opinion, is that people should have the right to consume what they want, make their own decisions on it, without the fear of being incarcerated if they haven't harmed anyone.  If you drink a few beers and decide to beat some kid up in a bar, you should go to jail.  If you drink a few beers and decide to crash on your couch, no problem.  The same should be said with any other substance. Please, treat adults like adults.  We supposedly have freedom in this country. The best definition I've read of freedom is from Micheal Z. Williamson when he wrote (paraphrasing)
    "Free people are free to ruin their lives. Not having this right, means you're just a cog in a machine"

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