OK, not a very original title. But with New Jersey becoming the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana and with California now attempting to legalize recreational marijuana production and use I think its time to take a sober (no pun intended) look at this matter.
First I am not so naive as to believe that all users of medical marijuana are wholly in need of it or using it for strictly medical purposes. But I also know that all users of popular regulated prescription meds such as Ritalin and Vicodin are not using them for strictly medical purposes. I could also go on to suggest that not everyone who is prescribed one of the new heavily adverstised anti-depressants or sleep aids really needs them.
And I am not so naive as to believe that the income from the taxation of medical and/or recreational marijuana will solve our economic crises in a very big way. It would be incremental at best and simply something to line the pockets of clever white collar criminals at worst. I do believe, however, that the legalization of marijuana will put a dent in the profits of those who trade in it illegally now much like their ancestors did when alcohol was illegal.
And I do believe that money would be saved by eliminating the need to investigate, prosecute and jail so many people who are not committing crimes which negatively impact our society. And if we did successfully prosecute all marijuana users we would find ourselves jailing an awful lot of otherwise productive tax paying citizens.
I do not believe that the legalization of recreational marijuana will lead to widespread drug abuse with people stepping up to harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine. There is simply no evidence for this. And if you look at the use of marijuana prior to its prohibition approximately 80 years ago you would find that most of our current fears have been manufactured by successful propagandists. Though I do think that the use of marijuana similarly to that of alcohol and tobacco needs to be carefully monitored in our young people.
I do believe that medical marijuana has many uses and that those uses will increase as we are able to do legitimate research into this substance which has shown many beneficial uses throughout history. And I don’t think that its recreational use will diminish the humane potentials of this substance any more than the abuse of legally prescribed drugs does so.
But even if there were no significant medical use and taxation doesn’t solve our economic woes I think that having marijuana available for personal recreational use might help reduce our tendency to harm others and even ourselves. And I think that this would be a form of social progress.