The Legalization of Marijuana

I don't smoke pot. It's something that's never had a place in my life and I've always seen drugs, even alcohol, as a potential hindrance to my goals in life. That's why I've always been very careful about where I tread, what I take and when I take it. But despite this goodie-two-shoes approach to all things potentially addictive, I'm probably one of the few human beings that's genuinely outraged that marijuana is illegal.

You see, I'm a libertarian at heart and being a libertarian means you have one simple, fundamental rule when it comes to government, "The government's job is to protect me from others, but I'm the only person who's responsible for protecting me from myself." This means that if there's no victim outside of the perpetrator, there is no crime. Period.

However, I'm also a realist and I understand that I live in a society that's hell-bent enforcing morals through laws and watching over people's shoulders to make sure they're doing what's right, even when it doesn't affect anyone else. But even under such a restrictive government, the hypocrisy of making marijuana illegal is dumbfounding and, to a libertarian such as myself, is infuriating.

First of all, marijuana as a substance is less harmful and less addictive than cigarettes, less intoxicating than alcohol and the only illegal drug that has not killed a single person in recorded history. In fact, much to my shame, some studies indicate that caffeine, my drug of choice, comes with more harmful side effects than marijuana does.

Now let's take a quick moment to contrast marijuana to each of these other, completely legal, drugs.

Cigarettes have an absolutely abominable record when it comes to public safety. Not only do 400,000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses, but also the nicotine found in cigarettes has been tested as being the most addictive drug that's widely used, up to five times more addictive than cocaine. Meanwhile, just a few years ago, tobacco executives were swearing that nicotine wasn't addictive and that people were smoking cigarettes purely for personal enjoyment. It's a sad spectacle to say the least. However, tobacco, in all its forms, remains completely legal to anyone over the age of 18.

However, alcohol isn't doing much better. Another highly addictive substance, upwards of 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning (this doesn't count drunk driving, other accidents, liver disease or kidney failure). To make matters worse, alcohol is implicated in over half of all domestic violence and rape cases, up to 2/3 of all assaults and a quarter of all suicides. Yet despite this tremendous societal impact, alcohol remains completely legal for anyone over the age of 21 who isn't operating a motor vehicle.

Caffeine, however, is much more innocent. But it too rings in as one of the most addictive substances available, ahead of PCP, and the negative health consequences of caffeine, including lost sleep, jitters and ulcers are well documented.

Compared to these three, marijuana, a drug with no physical dependency and one of the lowest overall addictiveness ratings, seems rather tame. While taking smoke into your lungs is never a good thing and some of the side effects of marijuana, including mental impairment and sexual dysfunction, are undeniable, it's no more dangerous than many over-the-counter medications. Combine that with the complete lack of a body count and marijuana becomes one of the safest things to breathe in a society surrounded by gas fumes and wet paint. Even the hardest skeptics of the drug have to admit, it's better for you than cigarettes and less of a societal problem than alcohol.

Despite this, the government has fought tooth and nail to keep marijuana illegal, including taking states that try to decriminalize the drug to court. But while the federal government ignores the obvious, nearly 750,000 people each year are arrested for mere marijuana possession costing taxpayers an estimated $10 billion. This number dwarfs the number of violent criminals arrested and most law enforcement experts agree that the "war on pot" has become nothing but a huge burden on the nation's police force.

But then comes the big question, why is it illegal in the first place? I've read about a dozen theories on the issue, but as I see it, it boils down to one critical factor, the users. The people who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol come from all walks of life and any attempt to criminalize those two drugs would be resisted by A) powerful lobby groups and B) the wealthy and middle-class users of the products. However, pot smokers tend to be younger, less politically involved and smaller in number than any of the other groups in question. So while speaking out against cigarettes or alcohol is political suicide, it's completely safe to pick on marijuana users and, in fact, with the public crying for a "war on drugs" it's a very, very smart move.

Now, on an aside note, a lot of people have taken to calling pot a "gateway drug" to justify maintaining its criminal status. But the term "gateway drug", while it seems to implicate marijuana in causing more serious addictions, is actually a term that means very little for the simple reason that any drug can be a gateway drug. While there's a strong correlation between people who use pot and then move onto other things, a similar correlation exists for both alcohol and caffeine. The truth is, a lot of people who use marijuana never move onto harder drugs just like light drinkers don't always become raging alcoholics. In the end, it's just a convenient statistic to justify an unjustifiable law.

But there is hope. Several states and many nations are moving to decriminalize marijuana. By one estimate, 30% of the United States population lives under some form of decriminalization and in those states there's been no reported increase of marijuana use. Other states, like Nevada, are pushing legislation through to decriminalize marijuana possession despite the federal governments legal maneuvering to get the laws repealed.

What needs to happen is more political activism on the part of pot smokers. More than just protests and publicity stunts, there needs to be a serious push not just for the legalization of marijuana, but to promote the responsible use of it. Rather than simply fighting to lift the ban, there needs to be an understanding that any legalization of it is going to come with restrictions and the consensus among the current marijuana lobbyists is that the restrictions should be similar to those placed on alcohol (age, location of consumption, driving, etc.).

But most importantly, pot smokers needs to shake their image of being stupid, lazy and useless. Being politically active and promoting responsible use is one of the best ways to do that, but also important is being a productive member of the community, a law-abiding citizen (marijuana use aside) and a contributor to government both as a taxpayer and as a voter.

Perhaps then marijuana users and marijuana supporters will be able to show the people the error of the existing laws and take their case to government in a way that will earn them respect and, justice willing, a victory.

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143 Responses to The Legalization of Marijuana

  1. kevin k jones says:

    for every one that says the gov cant tax a plant. BULLSHIT wat do u call tobaco.

  2. DeBo AkA BaBy-D says:


  3. candice says:

    i grow it sell it and smoke it. i have good grades,and have a steady should be legealized. all the stupid people that go over board with it is whats screwing it up 4us!!
    i mean by that is…. sucided,murder,stupid shit like that. weed should be the #1 peace offering in the world!!!!! finding weed truly helped me see life and people 4 who they really are!!!!!!

  4. stoned one says:

    before I started smokeing weed i was violent and had thoughts of killing people but then i started smokeing pot and now i can sit and chill for with anyone and i am not as violent and no longer think about killing people i have also got a job and pulled my grades up now i am more respsoible than my friends dad who has no job and sits around the house all day watching TV while i go to school and work ,save some money for the future and i do all this on weed

  5. johnny k says:

    marajuana should be legal to the point of alcohol. i smoke pot every day, and i drive on high every day, but when i drink alcohol i know not to drive because i will kill someone. driving high on marijuana is 100% safer than driving on alcohol. pot has been used for the past 5,000 years and there has never been a problem. the only reason it isnt legal is because there is no way the government would make money off of it. taxation would be outragous
    but if it was legal, heres the laws. you can smoke it at home, or at a cafe, but you MUST have a designated driver, if you get pulled over on marijuana, you will suffer the same consequences as alcohol. loss of licesnce and impounded cars. participate in NA and go to rehab.

  6. Timmi says:

    I have read tons of these responses. You all say you've done some research, well send a little my way. I'm writing a paper for my lit class. Trying to change the world one teacher at a time. Keep up the fight Brothers and Sisters.

  7. Josh Hardly says:

    I would like to say just a few words. First off all i had bad sleeping patterns, i would be awake all night and sleep all day. i started to smoke skunk at nights and beleive me it helped so much. Some people reading this may think he smoked it every night and got hooked.
    NO this would be untrue, i got my sleeping pattern back and now hold a job and have a lot more in my sights for the future. Thanks for listening.

    Sane 18 london uk

  8. smokey mcpot says:

    smoke weed everyday

  9. shrek says:

    I am one of the ppl that has accually tried drugs and i dont see anything wrong with a little bit of pot. I wish the government and the cops would just leave us alone and do our own thing. or just us that dont bother the ones who dont cause no harm

  10. leslie patterson says:

    i'm 17 years old and i was doing an annotated bibliography on medicianl marijuana for class when i happend upon this site, and for that matter this article. i really respect ravens view on legalizing marijuana, and i respect the fact that he hasn't smoked. but what i most respect was giving me an article to write about that was actually intellectual instead of trying to convince me to smoke marijuana. so thanks raven for the good brain stimulating article.

    peace to all

  11. brittany says:

    i am 11 and i smoke weed mmore than twice a day… i love it………

  12. Puff says:

    Smoken weed it good

  13. jesus says:

    i am 18 i blaze dro all day long i smoke weed like people smoke cigarett
    so smoke all you can till you die

  14. flint says:

    I agree whole heartedly that marajuana should be legalized, but unfortenetly I dont think it ever will be. the cops came to my house and took two plants. didnt have any scales or parafaniala, but you better beleve im ganna do time. Threw a couple of seeds in a pot to see what would happen. It really is rediculus that people are dying everyday of brutal murders in Iraq, but good citizens that occassionaly smoke mara.. get hard core crime, but our president can take our fathers, husbands and sons to fight a war to make daddy proud. I hope i didnt offend any one, just speeken my mind. oh, there maken me drop, so please smoke one for me. And who ever said that we " smokers" should smoke in front of the gov't building, thats a great idea. how did Rosa Parks get her word across, or martin luther king. If any lawers are reading this, and you care about the American people, do something. We have no idea how to start the paper train. I will defenetly vote and so will my husband.

  15. 13yearoldtoker says:

    im 13, i usually smoke 3-4 times a day and ive done most other drugs besides heroin and morphine, pot is by far the best and safest and most pleasing but i got caught with concerta and get drug tested but i think its just a scam to try to get ppl to "realize" the money they save not smoking. ITS BULL, i spend more now on alchohal so i can have a decent time but no way is it as good as weed! GOD BLESS YOU TOKERS 420 live on!

  16. Lexxica says:

    pot = happiness!

  17. jennifer says:

    well ive been smokin weed about 4 years im only 14 teen and i wont stop!!!!! f*ck the police. . . that is how i feel it should be legalized all me and my peeps all smoke every day and i wish we could do it freely i want to give a shout out to all youll in here 420!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! holla at ya gurl! to my baby i wuv you!!!

    smoke and choke 4 eva!!!!!!!

  18. Kayla says:


  19. fuzz says:

    Well, not from personal experiance, I can always tell when someone uses pot. They have a kind of sluggishness and unkept appearance. Also, our brains were'nt made to have foreign chemicals introduced to them 3 times a day (or however much you smoke) and despite all of your claims that it's not harmful, I certainly can't believe that it's good for you. Ah well. Smoke pot, legalise it– I don't care. ^^

  20. Robin from Jersey! says:

    I completely agree that pot should be legalized. If not for public use then for medical reasons. I think that if it were to be legalized it should have the same general guidelines as smoking & drinking: that you're free to smoke, grow, & sell weed once you're 18, but if you get pulled over while high then I think there should be a penatly because from my experience, it does change your judgement & perspective of things. Now I'm not a heavy smoker, but I have my occasional puff & I don't see anything wrong with that, & to all you serious potheads, more power to ya! You'll be the future leaders of our country!

    Much Love,
    Robin from NJ

  21. Joey from jersey says:

    ok ive been smokin weed for about 8 months this summer more then i ever hav i recently quit ciggs an i play football now an i wrestle for my school weed has never slown me down an is a great drug to have fun with please spread the news its gotta get legalized i agree that pot is less harmful then alcohol an the major thing its not addictive the only urge i hav is hey i feel like gettin high today so smoke on peace

  22. Toadstool says:

    I would just like to say that I respect your view on this Raven. I would also like to point out the stupidity of many of the people commenting. Marijuana IS harmful. It is worse for you than cigarettes and beer. It can screw your liver up like alcohol and give you lung cancer. I do smoke it occasionally, and I do enjoy the experience. But those who say they smoke it everyday, be prepared for a hard let down when something bad happens. My cousins were just called on to CPS and now I am taking care of their 4 year old baby girl. And people, please learn to spell and use proper grammar. (Sorry, it just annoys me.)


  23. joey from jersey says:

    ok toadstool if wat you are saying is true then how come no one has ever had cirrosis of the liver from marijuana i have never heard that so idont know where u got that from an i wanna where but hey u might be right but even people who are against weed never had sed that peace

  24. Toadstool says:

    Correction: I have not been able to find anything connecting marijuana to cirosis, (sorry for spelling) but I stand by everything else. I am not saying that it is wrong, but I just believe everyone should do a little research on it. Once again, I am sorry about the mistake, I will research things before I say them.

    Thank you.

  25. X baby I $miles V says:

    i'm 16 from NORTH hayward i;ve been smoke'n weed since i was 12 i'm luv'n it and WON'T STOP CAN'T STOP!!!!!! can't wait to 420

  26. KC says:

    I feel my stress,pain,fear and anger in my stomach, and additionally had servere anorexia as a teen. I was diagnosed with chronic depression and mild OCD. After my divorce 3 years ago..I was 20, I felt ill all the time and lost weight and was malnorished. I also suffered a lot of dental pain which I was desperatley treating with alchohol and Vic's (i've had 16 root canals) when my roomate convinced me to smoke. I had only smoked while drunk and it had made me sick. The day I first smoked was the day I found my cure to my stomach problems, mental stress and pain, and food anxiety. Now I smoke all the time. I maintain a perfect normal weight, a good attitude, and have worked in a medical office for the last 4 years. After trying all the over the counter anti-nausea pills, prilosec, phenergan, compazine -you name it – Pot works like a charm eliminating stress, nausea, anxiety, pain and depression.
    These articles have made me infuriated with the government. I wish I could take my "medicine" with me everywhere so that my life would be even more high quality – but I cannot complain because I was truely blessed the day this option of smoking this sweet & luscious green plant, became clear to me- that I could have a semi-normal life.

  27. Jimmy says:

    If they think MARIJUANA is so bad and illegal than why are they using it for medical reasons. if they are gonna use it for medical reasons then they should lagalize it for everyone. Ive seen cops smoking buds just no one knows it my mom smokes weed everyday. im only 15 and i smoke more weed than most people i know. some people say weed makes you stupid but i get good grades and pass even though im a major stoner from El Cajon, California. weed calms you down and relaxes you.

  28. Eileen says:

    Well i think that if ppl want to use it and die then let them be. Im ok with doing nuthing and thats true if its bad why use it for medical reasons? Well im not a user cuz i quit but if ppl want to use it then let them be youi fill me? Well sum ppl are so dumb cuz i realized that it doez hurt no matter what other ppl say and if i were any of you I would QUIT and fast too !!!!!Im not quick 2 judge ppl but like i said STOP while your ahead !!!!!!! And to them out there that never touched it BE SMART AND DONT START !!!Buh bye yall
    ~Eileen A.~
    Repin Vineland @k@ Crimeland
    ~*Im out 1*~

  29. Nicole from Jersey. says:

    So people smoke who cares its how they want to live their life. I think of it like this if they want to smoke let them. But if they want to stop its their fault for starting. My friend wants to stop but he did for a couple of days and started it up again. And if he needs help to stop I am here for him and will help him through anything. I hope he knows I will help him. Thats if he wants to be helped.

  30. Kelly says:

    LEGALIZE!!!…the government is ridiculous, but w/e we'll blaze anyways. But if u guys want to have a good time, try acid*** Spread the love

  31. Nicole From Jersey says:

    Yo Kelly
    Acid is so much worse then pot. Its dangeruous you can die from that. My sisters boyfriend died from that and your telling people to try it. Thats not cool. Your nuts. Do you have a death wish?????????? You should stop why your alive……….

  32. Kaleena says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article,,it was very well written. I myself smoke marijuana and believe its totally fine in moderation.I'm a student studying photography,,in all honesty it helps me bring out more of my creative side when i work on my personal projects. Albert einstein did say " I believe that smoking a pipe contributes to somewhat calm and objective judgement in all human affairs"Come on u know he smoked it and that just shows if someone of his establishment smoked it then it cant be all that bad!People just need to watch out for the addiction,,but anything can be addictive(medication,sugar,course language,alcohol),if u like something so much then of course it can be addictive!I'll i can say is that its mind of matter and moderation!I

  33. Jenna says:

    I have to do a debate in school on "Why Marijuana Should Be Legalised" and your post helped alot. I just hope everything you said was true because i'm using it as my facts. =D

  34. Josh says:

    ok look im up to a 5 blunt a day ritual marijuana is not a habbit to me its a hobby and personally im tired of having to go to the store and buy a blunt rap and then trying to track down the dman and grindin it and pickin seeds the goverment needs to legalize it and sell rolled blunts for like $12 pesonally i think that this would make the U.S.'s deficit disapear

  35. gravy train says:

    weed is not a madder of life or dealth its much more import then that

  36. sam says:

    yo biotches.. i think the wizeed should be legal.. i mean i do it morning noon and night.. im haveing the best time of my life.. im high all the time.. and i think im gonna go toke it up.. so peace out biotches!!!!!!!!!!

  37. David F says:

    I myself find that marijuana is more of a good thing than a bad thing. Its better for your health than tobacoo and alcohol and for the most part makes you feel good. I smoke the occasional bowl here and there and my grades in school are perfect. More than 50% of Americas population have tryed it and for the most part believe that it should be legal for most things. The goverment puts commercials out saying how bad it is but they don't put the facts out behind it. Look up what they say and you'll find more to what the truth is. God put a natural pain killer that is better than alcohol and tobaco on this earth to help people, so lets use it the way God intended and let people make their own choices on if they want to smoke weed or not. It is a free country….I'm i wrong?

  38. Brandon says:

    u all stoopid people shouldent do it it killed my best friend one thing led to anothe dead an im onlt in high school

  39. Ashley says:

    Hey Sam and Kaylynn

  40. nicole says:

    excuse me but i have to respectfully disagree with you. pot is a gateway drug, meaning it hooks people on other things. being in high school, and almost everyone besides me i know smoking pot, i know that it does affect your grades, your outlook on life, and can lead you to other things, worse things. Also, to say that the only victim of smoking pot is th pot-user himself is grossly ignorant: pot-users use peer pressure to hook their friends on it. POt dealers easily entice kids, who don't have the mental capacity for common sense yet, into using. I won't do pot, probably, ever, and i think the laws on marijuana should stand.

  41. DAB says:

    Drugs are bad, you shouldnt smoke pot!!

  42. geoff says:

    yo dab and nichole you have no idea wat your talking about you shouldent post coments because it makes you sound stupid and nichole do you know any one that realy regret smoking for any reason besides being busted and you said that people try it because of peer presure and id say that is definatly wrong i know quite a few people that smoke and none of them started because of peer presure in fact some people get more peer presure because they smoke from people like you prolly

  43. Shana says:

    I totally agree that it should be leagle!!!! pot is a very easy drug to get your hands on, and people are gonna smoke if they want to regardless of what the law sais. And weed is not brought on by peer presure (in most cases) because i have anways been around weed sence i was really young, and no matter how many people asked me if i wanted to smoke, i always said no, until i was 15 and ready to smoke myself. Its not that hard to say no. Most of the people that i smoke around dont smoke, and none of them have picked it up yet. So, if you give in to peer presure then your the dumb one because you dont have to do anything you dont want to do.

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