Today is 420, Will You Be Smoking Marijuana?
April 20th, celebration for immoral criminals, hippy peace-lovers, or normal citizens.
Today is April 20th, 4/20, in fact it's only 48 minutes short of 4:20 as I'm writing this. This day brings to mind the ethical question of marijuana. It is currently illegal for the most part, but laws and ethics unfortunately don't always coincide.
This article will not be for citing negative or positive facts about marijuana. I'll be honest, I've read many facts on both sides and there are far more positive things about marijuana than negative. The issue is not about the plant itself, it's rather about social stigma. Technically speaking, marijuana should be legal, and it's very difficult to realistically and thoroughly debate that argument without appearing to be ignorant. However, it is still illegal, so let's discuss why.
Nobody wants to be the burnout pothead
This is honestly one of the major reasons why marijuana is illegal. Think marijuana, and you think about the unemployed 20 year old with long curly hair, wearing pajamas, sitting in his parents' basement smoking a bong. Let's be honest, you probably know someone like this if you're my age, and if you aren't, you either will, or did in your past.
Not all marijuana smokers are like that!
Many marijuana smokers are normal individuals and you wouldn't be able to tell they were smokers just by looking at them. We should be careful how we judge!
As with alcohol, responsibility and awareness is key.
Marijuana can have negative effects on a person's life. They could become a burn-out and only want to smoke pot all the time. However, this is the case with most of life's addictions. Almost any hobby can be detrimental. People need to practice moderation and responsible behavior. The burnout is not that different than the guy who always seems to have 1 too many and ends up puking someplace annoying to clean up. Treat your body and it's consumption with respect and you will not end up having problems. This is an internal issue far more than an external issue. I personally believe marijuana does not create problems, people create problems using marijuana. Some personality types and people in certain situations and circumstances can't handle it. They often have problems in other areas of their lives. Addiction can be a trait of a human, not necessarily of a substance.
Responsibility... it's illegal, that's irresponsible!
Let's not kid ourselves with this statement, and look at the root of the situation. Those in power cannot push for legalization of marijuana because of social stigma. Who would get elected if they were pushing for legal recreational usage of marijuana? 'Hippy burn-out bum go hug some trees and live in your parents basement, stay out of politics!' Parents can't support it either because marijuana, as many other substances, can be very detrimental to younger individuals. There is no legal age limit, so this creates 1 simple line of right or wrong that can apply to young individuals. If it's right, it's right for anyone, even 15 year olds. If it's wrong, then it's wrong for everyone, no parents. Nobody can realistically support marijuana or they face social (and legal) consequences. Younger individuals in college or before having children who partake in smoking marijuana run into road blocks that eventually force them to stay away. They may think it's morally acceptable but being arrested for marijuana, failing a drug test when applying for a job, or having children, can put a dead stop to outwardly supporting it.
What about medical marijuana?
Though marijuana poses many wonderful medical enhancements, let's be honest, what are we really talking about? People are being subscribed medical marijuana for stress! If this isn't the worst cover up for recreational use then I don't know what is. This isn't to belittle those suffering who really are experiencing a drastic enhancement in their lives, but sometimes I feel like support of medical marijuana is the way people support marijuana in general. You can't support recreational use because of the social stigma, but medical marijuana is different. Recently a judge in Ontario ruled in favor of outright legalizing marijuana because medical marijuana users were being pushed to illegal drug dealers. Last year California tried to legalize recreational use, and next year Colorado will do the same. Do we really need to hide under the guise of medical marijuana? Is it really any different if legitimized by the term 'medical' and 'authorized dispenser'? It is still the same plant. if it can positively affect the lives of individuals, perhaps we need to change our viewpoint. How can we argue it is immoral and wrong, but sort of, not really, in some cases it's fine.
There are a lot of people that smoke marijuana or have smoked it. By keeping it illegal, we cannot press responsible usage on them. We cannot have a marijuana talk. We cannot create proper environments for smoking marijuana. We cannot create acceptable standards in terms of age limits. In effect, by keeping marijuana illegal, we are creating more negative consequences and circumstances for those that consume. (And I didn't even mention drug dealers and drug violence!)
I'm not saying everyone should smoke marijuana, to be honest, many shouldn't! Some can handle it, some can't. Some have no interest, some have too much. However, I'm fairly certain that keeping it some dark hidden secret of society is not helping the situation. I honestly believe that by legalizing marijuana, it will give our society much more control over it (not to mention damaging the illegal drug trade and generating tax revenue).
Like many other things in life, marijuana can be good and it can be bad.
The questions are:
Is the amount of good it creates enough to justify the amount of bad it creates?
Does legalizing create more problems or reduce the amount of problems?
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