Recently, I have been talking about the sanctity of human life and how this ethic must cover quality of human life, not just the hot-button issues of abortion, the death penalty, and war. Quality of human life includes the right to work. One way to secure employment for all Americans is to legalize marijuana, allow USA farmers to grow and sell Hemp, and regulate it as opposed to banning it like we do today.
If we legalize Marijuana, that will mean new industries will spring up to meet the legal demand for the product. New industries will mean more jobs and therefore, more money for the government to put into jobs, the economy, education, health care, and the environment.
The government, in their current documents on marijuana, claims that marijuana will impair judgement, serve as a gateway drug to other drugs, cause cancer, and become an addictive drug. But the problem is, these things are all true about alcohol, which is an entirely legal drug. Therefore, legalization will not create any new societal problems beyond what are already there.
But on the other hand, if we legalize marijuana, we will get people out of jail so we can free up prison space for people who deserve jail, such as rapists, murderers, terrorists, and Enron execs. And less people in jail means less taxpayer money that is needed to regulate them, which means more money for jobs, education, health care, and the environment.
Furthermore, we need to rethink the way we think about hard drugs and the way we deal with them. The hard drugs, like crack, cocaine, and meth, cause people to become violent to themselves and others. Therefore, they should remain illegal. But what should change is the way we deal with people who are addicted to them.
If people use a little in the privacy of their own homes, why should we care? It is when they make themselves a threat to society that we should deal with it. The way to deal with it is to arrest them and give them the keys to their freedom. In other words, we should sentence them to jail indefinitely until they agree to get professional help for their problems. But if they agree to get professional help, then they should be set free on completion of their treatment and be trained in skills they need to get and maintain a job.
By focusing on treatment instead of punishment, we will free up even more space for violent criminals who deserve the long jail sentences that normally fall on the non-violent drug offenders.
Furthermore, if we legalize marjuana, we will not only create jobs for a new marijuana industry, we will be able to create a new Hemp industry as well. Hemp can be used for the following things:
Paper, textiles, building materials, food, medicine, paint, detergent, varnish, oil, ink, and fuel.
Hemp can be used for healthy food.
Hemp can be used to fuel cars, freeing us from our dependence on oil and eliminating the need for wars over oil.
Hemp can be used for clothing.
There is legislation to legalize industrial hemp. Five Congressmen, Ron Paul, Pete Stark, Jim McDermott, Sam Farr, and Raul Grijalva, have sponsored HR 3037, which would remove barriers to American farmers growing industrial hemp.
Marijuana is not for everybody. It has different effects on different people. On the one hand, there are people I know who are not affected in their day-to-day lives when using the drug. My roomates would fit in that category; they smoke the stuff in the privacy of their rooms and are not affected by it. On the other hand, I know someone who tried to take it to cope with depression and had extreme difficulty functioning. She could not remember simple appointments and had to keep looking at her time sheet so she could remember when she had to work next.
But the same can be said for alcohol. I do not drink alcohol because I have observed the effects of addiction on my grandfather and my father.
The Ninth Amendment establishes the principle that all the rights belong to the people as opposed to belonging to the King. Therefore, as long as a person does something that does not harm or affect other people, then why should the government care or intervene to stop them? Freedom means the freedom to screw up and make bad decisions. Otherwise, there will be no freedom at all.
It should be up to friends and families to intervene in any situation in which a person is screwing up their life. But that is true if they are addicted to alcohol or crack or anything in between. There was even a student one time who died after starving themselves to death after being on the computer for days on end at a computer cafe. It is a fact of life that you cannot legislate against everything that can possibly kill a person.
There is one concern that should be mentioned in any discussion of Marijuana — the gateway effect. Many of Marijuana’s opponents fear that legalizing it will lead to a gateway effect and lead to addition to hard drugs. But there is no scientific evidence that this is the case. However, part of the problem might be that some forms of marijuana are laced with hard drugs. Therefore, I do not have a problem with regulating marijuana and hemp foods under FDA regulations requiring the listing of ingredients for all products. And we should encourage the formation of watchdog groups who will call attention to companies which cannot be trusted to make safe and effective products so that we can prosecute them.