The country’s attitude about marijuana has come a long way in the past few years, and it was interesting to see Republican candidates in the last debate speaking openly about not only using it (40 years ago, of course) but recognizing that putting people in prison for using it is a victimless crime. One of them even said the drug war has failed. Gasp! We all know it’s an utter failure of course, but hearing it from the mouth of a right-winger is a little encouraging.
Most of them still want to keep it illegal, of course. Chris Christie used the tired old phrase “gateway drug” and even somehow managed to mention his pro-life beliefs at the same time — way to pander, Chris! Carly Fiorina mentioned that she lost a daughter to drug addiction, something she doesn’t hesitate to bring up in any discussion of marijuana. But you know what? According to her book, her daughter was addicted to alcohol and prescription pills, not marijuana. Because it isn’t addictive in the same way, and for the vast majority of users it isn’t addictive at all. But when you’re running for President it’s just easier to gloss over that little detail, because you need the frightened voters to keep that Reefer Madness nonsense from 80 years ago alive and well.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is a legal drug freely available everywhere, and when abused it absolutely destroys lives and families. I have a close relative who nearly killed herself as an alcoholic. It magnified her depression, turning her into a completely different person: a mere shadow of her former vibrant self. It rotted her liver, aged her face far beyond her years, and caused a whole host of other physical and neurological problems. It has also been the cause of countless trips to the emergency room. She’s struggled with it for over 10 years, kicking it for a couple of years at a time before letting it grab her and drag her down again.
Another person close to me struggled with meth addiction for a few years. Being highly addictive on both an emotional and chemical level, it turned his life into a living hell — he was doing things on meth he would never, ever do sober and it was extremely scary at times. He pulled through it and got away from it with help and support from family and friends, but not without the occasional relapse every now and then. Meth is so addictive that doing it once is usually enough to hook you.
Marijuana, on the other hand, does not do all of that. Not even close. It doesn’t make you violent and it’s not a “gateway drug” leading directly to crack-smoking. In fact, it has many proven physical and mental benefits. When was the last time you heard of a doctor prescribing vodka to help someone’s appetite or prescribing cigarettes to reduce stress? The 1920’s? Sure, you can smoke/consume pot too much, but most people don’t. And given the choice, wouldn’t you rather have someone be stoned and mellow vs. drunk and violent? I know which one the alcohol industry would prefer…
This is why I wish Republicans would stop pandering to the cowering Middle America voters who still think that marijuana is just as addictive and evil as some of the other stuff out there, because they’re dead wrong. I’m not saying alcohol and nicotine should be illegal — Prohibition was just as much a failure as the current drug war, and over the years it’s been demonstrated that booze and cigs are used and enjoyed responsibly by most people (unlike meth, which is universally destructive). But putting them on the same level as marijuana is completely misleading and, frankly, absolutely insane.
Here’s a short video of some of their ridiculous claims. Following that is one of my favorite videos: an animation that perfectly describes the equally ridiculous demonization of an herb.