One of my longtime newsroom colleagues posed a philosophical line of questioning to me one morning this week:
Why exactly is marijuana basically illegal yet alcohol is legal? Why do we make that distinction?
Here is some of what I told him:
– Pot should not be illegal but rather regulated and taxed in much the same manner alcohol is, thereby putting a bunch of criminals out of business (or forcing them into the mainstream) and generating revenue for the government like alcohol, gasoline, etc. do.
– I think the money society has spent trying to stamp out marijuana use is largely cash just wasted, so to speak.
– Marijuana’s effect on the central nervous system is different than alcohol’s, and my gut tells me that someone is less apt to smoke too much pot and run over someone with his car than he is to do the same after drinking too much.
– I don’t think pot is any more of a “gateway drug” than beer is, or cigarettes are. It’s just not as socially acceptable as drinking or tobacco, although tobacco is becoming increasingly less accepted all the time (we might be getting sort of excessive in the area of tobacco persecution, but that’s a critique for another time).
– Even if pot were legal, I wouldn’t use it, nor would I encourage my kids or anyone else to do so. I have done so a handful of times in my life, when I was a college student, and that was enough to satisfy my curiosity. Not really interested in taking marijuana smoke or any other kind into my lungs at this point.
– Bottom line, if you’re a grown-up, using marijuana should be a matter of individual choice, whether you have some medical need for it or not.