This Fourth of July, I had a conversation with a couple of my friends who have been known to smoke quite a bit of marijuana. Inevitably, the conversation moved to legalization, reasons why it's a good idea, and how in all reality, there are very few consequences to the vegetation's legalization.
However, as someone who's a libertarian before he's a conservative Republican, I flinched several times, when one of my friends suggested it would solve a lot of our money problems, among other things, like it's yet-to-be-understood/studied medical benefits.
Do I personally think pot should be legalized? Of course I do. Unfortunately, legalization advocacy has become as outspoken and annoying as the neo-atheists trolling around Facebook and other new media. In California, where marijuana is readily available to those with a "prescription" the campaign slogan for full frontal legalization is "Save California: Legalize Marijuana."
What? Excuse me?
California is hundreds of billions of dollars in the hole, mainly because they have written IOU policies into law, such as generous state employee benefits and pensions, not to mention its the state that invented the $30,000 millionaire.
Colorado has similar campaign slogans, which seems odd because their legalization of the medical stuff is relatively infant.
I guess this is what happens when a mostly apolitical group, stoners, get high and start becoming advocates in the public light, they have stoner ideas. One of the side effects of "getting high" is a false since of philosophical wisdom. I like to say that pot makes people smart dummies.
That is why the economic arguments made by legalization advocates sound so great, the problem is, they couldn't be further from the truth.
Now obviously, if marijuana were ever legalized federally, its sale would be subject to both federal and state taxes. The money derived from these taxes would be great, but it would not come close to solving our debt and deficit problems.
Low estimates claim that yearly revenue from legalized sale of marijuana would be around $3-4 billion, where more liberal estimates range from $6-10 billion.
Even at the high end, no pun intended, that's $60-100 billion over a decade. Our current deficit is $1.4 trillion. So this revenue would amount (again, at the high end) to a deficit reduction of 9%. A noble number, for sure, but no where near what legalization advocates like to claim.
How about the stoners, I mean, legalization advocates claim that pot will offer cures for numbers of diseases?
Well, I have no doubt that the cannabis species have medicinal powers, those powers are incredibly limited. While strides have been made in the area of attention disorders, and marijuana (or THC's) ability to regulate them, the cure is only temporary.
As someone who struggles mightily with ADD, I can say that a cure would be great, I just really don't want to have to be high for the 10 hours of each day I need to be fully functional.
Advocates also claim that should marijuana be legalized, much of the stigma that surrounds it will be lost, and thus more frequently prescribed by doctors to cure such things as cancer.
That's right, I said cancer. Several studies in 2009 came to the conclusion that the introduction of marijuana, namely THC, has encouraged a sort of cellular kamikaze. The THC binds to receptors that essentially tell (most) cells, including cancer cells to go ahead and start the process of autophagy (when a cell "eats" itself) and apoptosis (programmed cell destruction).
Obviously these studies are not conclusive in the least, and that's a problem when you have a bunch of annoying stoners claiming that legalization is going to cure cancer.
Here's the problem with the large majority of legalization advocates, they are making/clinging onto arguments like these two that I believe are actually detrimental to their cause.
There are number of lines of advocacy they need to be educating themselves about, and using instead. How about the simply notion that legalization of the stuff with dramatically reduce drug related crime?
Or how about the fact that legalization would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the country?
Now I could go on explaining, in detail these types of claims, because they are the good ones.
Until level-headed, educated advocates like myself can get these annoying drones to put down the pipes, bubblers, bongs, hookahs, and vaporizers and start advocating the right things, legalization may never take place.