vnsplshr (vnsplshr) wrote in hatefree_debate,

Legalize it?

Some advocate legalizing (or decriminalizing) recreational marijuana use in the US. I would contend that this advocacy will lead nowhere, since marijuana cannot overcome it's reputation and risks.

Strike One: Pot's illegal

Sure, one can argue that pot shouldn't be illegal, using arguments from personal freedom to liquor's being just as bad, but it is illegal currently. That "taint" can't be rinsed away easily. In order for pot to be reconsidered as a legal, it needs those who would decide its future to see a reason for reassessment. First, though, they would need to possibly overcome their own negative perceptions of pot, negative public opinion, possible impact on their careers, and the biases among political, law enforcement and judicial groups. I would think, for many, these considerations would make ignoring the issue an easier choice.

Strike Two: Risks and Costs... and Benefits?

Those who would decide pot's future are also faced with the risks and costs associated with a new drug being made available to the public. Before it can be allowed on the market, it would need to be reevaluated for health risks. This process alone keeps many foods, drugs and substances from US consumers. Numerous presentations, debates and court cases will surely rise during this phase. If pot makes it through this scrutiny, there are regulatory issues to solve, related to it's growth, packaging, vending, etc. This will certainly tie up legislatures, public discourse and more. The insurance industry implications pose another regulation mess, as drug testing increases, etc. What do we gain, though, should pot survive all this machination? The right to pick up a package of joints at the convenience store? I don't see how that's worth the time and trouble in the same way more pressing issues (poverty, war, elections, etc.) are.

Strike Three: The Potheads

A big part of pot's problem is the reputation championed by its users. The pothead is glorified and ridiculed by our popular culture, sometimes simultaneously. Each generation is presented with happy, goofy pot users via movies, TV shows and music. In the 70's, we had laid back hippies on "The Streets of San Francisco" and Cheech & Chong. In the 80's, we had more Cheech & Chong and the kids in The Breakfast Club. In the 90's, we had Brad Pitt's character in True Romance and the kids on "That 70's Show". These days, we see our beloved "I'm a Mac" guy in Wild America and, thanks to streaming video, the bumbling Canadian fellows on "Trailer Park Boys". And Cheech & Chong are back together. The pot users in each case are cute and cuddly, but they're also socially useless, with no cries of "smear" from legalization advocates. The depictions aren't really all that exaggerated, since many of us know pot users who do get pretty stupid on weed,... and then brag about it. Surely, pot use will rise post-legalization, so by refusing to legalize, we might actually keep the numbers of potheads and "stupids" down. That's probably got significant appeal in a culture where there is no end to the examples of what pot use looks like. The "victims group" wronged by the current status of pot seems to hurt their own cause, no?

So, I think legalization is a non-starter. Only fringe support is available, probably for many of the reasons listed above (and still others unlisted). I'm shocked by those who think "personal freedom" and "it's just a plant" are arguments with weight enough to counter the problems with pot. And the arguments for medical use, the comparisons with alcohol and the criminal justice issues can all be addressed without making pot legal.

If you think pot deserves a chance, what's the A-game case for legalization that takes into account the factors I've mentioned?

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