Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Common Sense and Pot

The following is part of an e-mail from a friend and it started me thinking about how common sense so rarely figures in our politics.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who
has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was,
since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend
more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are
in charge).

Common Sense was preceded in death
- by his parents, Truth and Trust;
- by his wife, Discretion;
- by his daughter, Responsibility and
- by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers:
- I Know My Rights
- I Want It Now
- Someone Else Is To Blame
- I am a Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
After I read about the death of common sense I read an article that documented how the most common test for marijuana may have resulted in thousands of false convictions. The article is on Alter Net and the link is here:

It brought back a realization of how many years we have been incarcerating users of a drug that is less harmful than our legal drug, alcohol.

Over 30 years ago my husband and I told some friends that marijuana should be legalized with the same restrictions that control alcohol. The friend was horrified stating that marijuana leads to harder drugs, children could get it easily, yada, yada.
My husband told the friend that if any teenager didn't already know where he could get pot he could easily find out in 15 minutes. As for leading to harder drugs, that turned out to be a myth. Even if true, alcohol can have the same results and we learned a long time ago what folly it was to prohibit that dangerous drug.

I cannot understand why there is still so much resistance to that common sense solution to the problems of gang warfare, overcrowded prisons, and lack of testing of pot to make sure it isn't lethal. Anyone high on marijuana is happy, relaxed and no threat to anyone. The term 'laid back' comes to mind. Can you say the same for alcohol?

Marijuana also has medicinal properties that are a godsend to anyone suffering from the nausea caused by Chemotherapy and other illnesses.

True, the use of pot can be abused by some people just like any other drug, but that is not really the issue. Legal or illegal, that happens. Let me state that I have never smoked a single marijuana cigarette, but I sure had a couple of episodes of drinking 'one too many' when I was young and foolish. I probably would have been a lot better off if pot had been the drug of choice then. At the least, I would have avoided a whale of a hangover.

The benefits of legalizing marijuana are many and should be considered. One of the reasons that securing the border is gaining so many advocates is because most of them are frightened due to the violence between the gangs. Now if we took away their source of income by legalizing pot and other drugs it would stop the need for drug trafficking. While it may not stop all of the activity, it would certainly decrease it so it would be manageable.

If drug users were no longer considered criminals we could spend the obscene amount of money now being spent on arresting, trying and incarcerating drug users and drug sellers on rehabilitation for those with a drug problem. Can anyone honestly say this doesn't make good sense? By throwing drug users (a victimless crime) in prison we are now spending billions training them how to become hardened criminals and then turning them out on our streets. I can't see how this makes good sense.

The money saved by decriminalizing drugs would be astronomical. But wait! In addition to saving money we could also make it profitable. Cigarettes are taxed. alcohol is taxed. Wow! We could really clean up if we taxed drugs.

I think it's time that the country becomes practical and uses common sense. Lets face it; we lost the war on drugs years ago. Isn't it time to try something new?


tnlib said...

It makes me paranoid and I get depressed after (should be past tense) but I'm all for legalizing it. Good post.

Darlene said...

*tnlib - Thank you. I am sure others will not agree.

naomi dagen bloom said...

Related strongly to the Common Sense obit. Legalizing pot is more complex than simply, "Okay, we'll make it legal."

Let's begin by saying we will stop making it a crime to purchase it. Just like alcohol. Then, we have to consider how it is for many an addiction. Just like alcohol.

As a psychotherapist, I worked with a number of people whose heads were scrambled by overuse of pot. How will we deal with this? What systems does society plan to have in place for treatment?

All substance-abuse is complex. For example, how will we determine that someone has caused a traffic accident under the influence? Personally, this is a group that concerns me a great deal.

While I think the video is simplistic, I am glad that you've raised the topic. We need community-wide conversations that will move us toward change. Courageous, Darlene. Thanks!

Looking to the Stars said...

I LOVE this!! Great post! I believe it should be legal, the money that can be made from it would help this country!!

Rummuser said...

Marijuana is also less harmful than tobacco. There are also many other benefits of growing marijuana instead of tobacco. Donella Meadows' book, the limits to growth talks quite a bit of it and she wrote it in the seventies!

Yes, commonsense is dead. Long live political skulduggery.

Nancy said...


Forty years ago during a dinner table conversation I asked our 17 year old son this question.

"Chris, if I gave you $20.00 right this minute, how long would it take you to get me some marijuana?

His reply? "Mom,I could go get it for you and be back before you were eating dessert."

I think it is still that easy to get. It should be legalized exactly like tobacco and alcohol are.

I honestly think that the reason marijuana and other drugs are not legal is because the money gained from selling the drugs goes so high up into our society. Those people do not want to lose the fortunes they are making from drugs.

The people we have in prison now on drug charges are not the "Big Guns" but the street corner pushers and users who are very small potatoes in the whole scheme of things.

Xtreme English said...

I just contributed to FireDogLake's "legalize marijuana" website "Just Say NOW." Can't wait to get the t-shirt!! The drug war as it's run in this country is hardly more than legalized racism. Many of my acquaintances and their friends smoke pot at will, but they're white and upper class. No jail time for them if they're caught (and nobody's looking to catch them).

Ronni Bennett said...

Hear, hear, Darlene. In the current environment, we may just get rid of this ridiculous criminality.

Oh, there will be naysayers carrying on about oh, my god, it's a drug, it's a drug. We can't do that.

Please. As you point out, it far less destructive than alchohol so much so that it's a joke we allow people to drink and not smoke pot.

As your opener so interestingly demonstrates, we may be doomed for the lack of common sense.

Rain said...

Yes, legalizing marijuana make sense and it would take some of the profit out of the drug smugglers and add to tax revenue. It should be done and across the nation.

Darlene said...

*Naomi Dagen Bloom - Nothing it easy and making marijuana legal is differnt, but getting the lawmakers to pass the law making it legal is a start. Then we could use the money saved to fund more rehab centers.

*Looking to the Stars - You are so right!

*Rummuser - Thank you for information on the book. Imagine, we have been talking about this for nearly half a century with no progress.

*Nancy - You raise a very good point. It always gets back to money, doesn't it?

*Xtreme English - Thank you for the information on Firedog Lake's web site. I will have to go there.

*Ronni Bennett - Wouldn't it be wonderful if common sense could prevail just once in this country? Thanks for validating my point.

Darlene said...

*Naomi Dagen Bloom - I really need to preview my comments before publishing them. My frist sentence should read, "Nothing is easy and legalizing marijuana is no different.

*Rain - Yes, this should be a Federal Law under the FDA.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I've seen the Common Sense piece before...and I love it.

Yes, I agree Darlene... though there would be some issues to iron out...I think pot should be legalized.

Darlene said...

*Joy Des Jardins - The common sense article was much longer, wasn't it? I just took the parts that I thought would fit my post.

Judy said...

When my kids were in high school they brought home anti-drug literature. At the time we had an alcoholic in our midst and I remember reading, looking for any mention of alcohol. Instead, I saw pot listed with the likes of heroin, cocaine and other highly addictive and destructive drugs, with no mention of alcohol. Seemed crazy to me then, as it does now.

I do feel that Marijuana has it's potentially harmful affects (paranoia being one of them) that seem to vary with the user, and the duration and amount used - just as most any legal drug or substance might have. I'd definitely place alcohol way above on the list of mind-altering and dangerous substances, though. I think it's beyond time to turn the tide and make changes, as suggested by your other readers. Thanks for raising the subject, Darlene.

Vlnflt said...

I was scanning through blogs today, and came across this. I want to thank you for this post. I am an advocate of the legalization of marijuana, especially for medical purposes. Some drugs that are perfectly legal now are so much more dangerous and completely overlooked. If anyone has time for a video, I would recommend the following. It is long, but reveals the shocking troubles of legal narcotic addiction. My friend that is studying pharmacy sent me this link explaining that it is a major issue in pharmacy right now. Some doctors write the prescriptions just to get money and are essentially 'legal' drug dealers.

Thanks again for the post!

Darlene said...

*Judy - Absolutely alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than marijuana. It destroys families, causes violence, causes drunk driving deaths, and ruins the health of an abuser. It costs loss of jpbs and income and the list goes on.

Thank you for your visit. I really appreciate it and I hope you return.

*Vlnflt - Thank you for the link and for agreeing with me. I am so pleased that you stopped by and hope you do it again.

Kay Dennison said...

And there would be quality control and no one would get stuck with bad weed. I tried it (didn't everybody who came of age in the 60s?) and it doesn't work well for me. But I sure can tell you I'll be looking for a dealer if I ever have to go through chemo.

And oh yeah, tax the hell out of it like they do tobacco!

Darlene said...

*Kay Dennison - Thanks for the comment on quality control. I touched on that but didn't stress it enough.

la peregrina said...

After reading this post, Darlene, there is no doubt in my mind that you and my mother would have gotten alone wonderfully. I've thought so before but this post makes me doublely sure. Thirty years ago she was making the same argument about pot that your husband was making. Great minds think alike. :)

Darlene said...

*la peregrina - I wish I had known your mother. I'm sure she had a great mind, but I'm not so sure about me. ;-)

Anonymous said...

They won't let me smoke pot ...

I see another death due to a drunk driver. I see another young woman sexually assualted in her drunken stupor. I see someone fall from dancing on the bar room table from one too many drinks. I see someone puking their guts out from too much to drink. I see a grumpy old man physically abusing his wife because she nags him as he is treating a hangover-too much booze last night.
I sit here content and with peace for myself and others as I pass the marijuana cigarette on to my friend sitting next to me. We aren't sick, killing and/or causing pain to others, we are thinking logically and enjoying the moment. And then it dawns on us; for that moment of pleasure we can be locked up in jail! So we put out the marijuana cigarette, grab a beer, dance on the table, fall off and break an arm, get into an altercation with another person that sends them to the hospital with injuries, get into the car, kill an innocent person and ourself in a head on collision, and pot is still illegal and drinking is legal!
Alcohol kills! Pot does not!

Darlene said...

*Anonymous - Normally I don't accept anonymous comments but yours is so good I am making an exception. You pointed out the hypocrisy very well.

Lydia said...

This is a great post, Darlene. Living here along the "I-5 Corridor," which is a main artery of transport from Mexico (maybe not so much with the clamp-down of the border) I hate that the dregs of society are getting rich while relatively normal people continue to be fined for use of this drug. What Kay wrote really resonated with me. My ex-husband loved pot (he was a Vietnam vet, so naturally) and it was always around the house and I smoked lots of it. But, as we said in treatment, my "drug of choice" was always alcohol and it was alcohol that entrapped me, not marijuana. They use the term "drug of choice" for a good reason, too, to remind people that alcohol is a drug (and in my opinion far more damaging than pot). Thanks for bringing this issue to the fore and now I will go watch the video. :)

Lydia said...

Darlene, just brought my husband by to read this post. He enjoyed it like I did a few nights ago...when I left a fairly long comment. In a rush today, but wanted you to know how much I appreciated this post and couldn't agree more.