Marijuana grows in the home of two medical marijuana patients in Medford, Ore.

In response to “If God Didn’t Want it Here, it Would Be Gone Like the Dinosaurs; Marijuana is Here To Stay.” by Roxanne Cottell, 26 October 2006. Right up front, I admit that I have smoked marijuana. I even inhaled. I also share several of this author’s viewpoints and opinions. However, there are some flaws in the writer’s logic and argumentation.
First of all, the title of the article has to go! Any declarations about what God would or wouldn’t do are pretty presumptuous. Using the same logic expressed in the title, we must also infer that God wants all the other “evils” both real and perceived, to exist, otherwise God wouldn’t have put them here in the first place. Continuing with this logic in regards to marijuana, we would also have to infer that God also wanted mankind to take pretty poppy flowers and turn them into some of the most addictive and destructive narcotics ever created. So let’s disregard the nonsense of involving God in our social structures and personal decisions.

I wish marijuana was decriminalized. My father died at the age of 52, primarily due to alcoholism. I would give anything if I could turn back time and somehow induce him to choose marijuana instead of alcohol as his drug of choice. He would still be here today, probably with a happy smile on his face and a well-earned potbelly.

I don’t ever recall hearing of anyone causing a motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence of marijuana. Nor have I heard of anyone becoming violent. Criminals rarely commit their crime while high on marijuana. Bank robbers would forget why they were there in the first place and get totally engrossed in the little cameras looking back at them. Cigarettes are already known to be highly addictive, cause cancer, and contribute to a wide range of other medical problems. None of which can be said about marijuana.

One of the warnings that we are taught in grade school is that smoking marijuana will eventually lead to the “gateway” of drug abuse and the spiraling down into a life of crime with the sole purpose of funding your drug habit. But it is not the marijuana itself that leads someone down that path. That path exists because growing, harvesting, distributing, and using marijuana is illegal. So in order for someone to buy marijuana, they must break the law and associate with others who are also willing to break the law. People who routinely break the law have a tendency to commit crimes, and THAT is when marijuana users are introduced to the more dangerous drugs and criminal activities.

The government spends huge amounts of tax dollars on drug interdiction and law enforcement. It seems rather ironic that the very act of arresting and imprisoning someone for marijuana related offenses is the very thing that we were warned about as kids. Except now it is our own legal system that introduces minor offenders to the more dangerous criminal element. It is said that putting someone in prison is just like sending someone off to “The Harvard School of Crime.” Who then is really responsible for this outcome?

Personally, I think marijuana is still illegal for one main reason. It is the same political mindset that led to Prohibition in the 1920’s. A minority of powerful, self-righteous politicians trying to control the morals of an entire country.

Blaming the pharmaceutical companies doesn’t really make sense. There are more than enough medical conditions that marijuana cannot treat. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry could make a huge profit if marijuana were decriminalized. There would obviously be a huge market for specially grown and genetically modified strains of marijuana. For example, a specific strain created to emphasize the “munchies” effect could help cancer patients to eat. Specific strains that target various different medical conditions, or provide a particular type of “high”, would all require research and development and the pharmaceutical industry already has the required resources and expertise to get started.

I think the best thing they could do would be to substantially decriminalize marijuana. Making it completely legal presents the same problems as alcohol. There would still need to be laws to define age limitations and to prevent people from driving when under the influence. What if we treat it exactly the same way as we currently treat alcohol? The production and distribution of alcohol is highly regulated. You can make small amounts for your own use, but must get licensed to produce more than you can consume. Some people would obviously want to grow their own marijuana. But there are also those gardeners who can’t keep a tomato plant alive.

The big bonanza for the government is this – taxes. Everyone knows that the primary costs of illegal drugs are not based on the agricultural costs of producing marijuana. The primary cost is a direct result of the laws that make distribution of marijuana so risky. You are basically paying for their risk, not their product.

I have heard, but cannot say for a fact, that marijuana is far easier to grow and harvest than tobacco. I’m not current on the pricing of marijuana these days, but let’s pretend for a moment that growing, harvesting, packaging, and distribution costs for one pack of 20 “joints” or marijuana cigarettes is probably less than $1 per pack. Even on the streets today, 20 joints are going to sell for significantly more than $1. Both the Federal and State governments add as many taxes on cigarettes and alcohol as they can get away with. Doing the same thing with marijuana would result in a huge windfall of tax revenue. Would you pay $5 for a pack of 20 joints? $10? Maybe even $20 for some really high grade stuff? Do the math – cost of production at about $1 per pack, add the standard retail mark-up to bring the price up to, let’s say $2 per pack. That still leaves theoretical tax revenue of at least $3 per pack. That is a low end figure.

If you look at the big picture, we have the potential savings of billions of dollars by no longer expending law enforcement resources for marijuana. The courts would no longer be back-logged with marijuana violation cases. The prisons would no longer have to house and care for prisoners who are doing time for violating archaic drug laws.

Take the savings described above, add the new taxes collected, and you now have an unimaginable amount of money that could be better spent on education, healthcare, social services, and many other causes that currently struggle to survive on tight budgets.