The Arizona Republic has been posting a series of editorials on the hot button issue of cannabis in this election year. For every reasoned argument against the horrors of prohibition or praising the medical wonders of cannabis, AZCentral seems to publish a prerequisite piece of reefer madness by some knucklehead, or in this case four Knuckleheads. I was approached by two regular contributors to Arizona NORML about replying to the piece of propaganda linked below, but they have not responded. Go figure. To wit here is a reply to the cannabis doubters and prohibition supporters of AZ, in particular to those who feel the authority of their office should outweigh their obvious ignorance on the issue.
The four former superintendents of public instruction are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts (Our Turn, Marijuana legalization would hurt education, Feb. 15).
Marijuana legalization is no longer a risky gamble. It is a proven change for the betterment of society. Not only has the sky not fallen where marijuana has been legalized, many peace-dividends are being reaped as well.
Teenage drug-use has gone down where marijuana prohibition has been repealed. Drunk driving accidents and fatalities are down where marijuana has been legalized. Murder and violent crime are down where the rule-of-law has been reestablished. Additional funding for schools has been a god-send. Unemployment is down and the economies are up. Law-enforcement costs are down, furthering the Republican ideal of less government.
The recent study they quote finding that one in six adolescents who experiment with marijuana becomes addicted sounds scary by itself. Yet both alcohol and tobacco have much greater addiction rates. Marijuana’s non-addictiveness, compared to the deadly alcohol and tobacco, is an argument for legalization, not against.
Furthermore, the idea that the 15,000-and-rising felony marijuana arrests every year has the intended effect of decreasing marijuana use is absurd. It does no such thing. If it did, why would the number of felony arrests for marijuana keep increasing, year after year, decade after decade? Marijuana prohibition has increased its use, not decreased it. Before being outlawed in 1937, fewer than 1 in 50 American smoked pot. Since the government has been promoting it as “so wonderful it has to be illegal,” its use has more than quadrupled. In the Netherlands, where it has been quasi-legal for decades, marijuana use is among the lowest in the world.
There is no voodoo or black-magic involved in reducing murder, violent crime, drunk-driving accidents and teenage drug use. Just common sense. Pouring money into prisons instead of schools does not a better society make. Paying people to be mean and vindictive to marijuana users serves no legitimate end.
For many of us, the most insidious part of marijuana prohibition is its un-Christian influence on society. The Bible teaches that all herbs bearing seeds are a gift from God. The Bible instructs us not to bear false witness. Jesus taught that it is not what we put in our mouths that defiles us; it is what comes out of our mouths, and to love our neighbors. These important Christian principles, and many more, are violated by the War on Drugs in general, but the marijuana prohibition in particular. We have overwritten the Bible and tossed out Christ’s most important teachings in the name of an imaginary evil.
Marijuana users are the good people, not bad ones. Not all of us. There are bad apples in every cross-section of society. But over all, we are good, honest, hard-working people. Doctors, lawyers and Indian-chiefs. Nothing about marijuana, nor its use, changes our inherent goodness or badness. If we are good, marijuana makes us no better; if we are bad, marijuana makes us no worse.
If you want liberty and justice for all, safer streets, better jobs, schools and education…vote for marijuana legalization today.
–Peter Wilson, former state director of AZ4NORML & a former prisoner of the drug war