Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jan 2007
Source: Journal Gazette, The (IN)
Copyright: 2007 The Journal Gazette
Author: Curtis Berndt
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


When I read letters from smokers whining about not being allowed to
suck on cigarettes in public, it makes me wonder if all their synapses
are clicking. Here are these poor addicts crying about not being
allowed to destroy their health and the health of those near them,
wringing their hands and ranting about future government interference,
never realizing how absurd they sound. My mom used to tell me not to
stare at such people. It was hard then, and it still is.

What these people need is not sympathy but a solution to their
problem. The plans offered to date only address the problem by
limiting smoking areas.

That causes high anxiety for tobacco addicts and does nothing to
remedy the many problems caused by smoking. I have a better plan, a
simpler plan, one that is easy to implement: Outlaw tobacco and
legalize marijuana.

This is easy to do once you realize that whether a drug is legal or
not is purely a matter of chance. If your deadly, addictive drug of
choice is tobacco, you're OK. If it's heroin, you're in trouble.

Making pot legal and tobacco illegal would eliminate the smoking
issue. Consider the following:

As shown in a study at Johns Hopkins University, pot doesn't cause
cancer, and it's not addictive. It might be habit-forming, but then so
are chocolate-chip cookies. Anybody want to give those up? Didn't think so.

Many people say tobacco is a necessary stress reliever for them.
Buddy, tobacco doesn't hold a candle to pot. Not only will marijuana
relieve your stress to the point of turning you limp, it improves
sleep. Recent studies have shown that lack of sleep contributes to
obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. As an added
benefit, pot might improve your eyesight. I've heard people claim to
see things when smoking pot they don't see otherwise. Better health
through smoking -- let's see the tobacco crowd claim that.

Restaurants would be able to increase income by charging admission to
their smoking sections. Not only would people stop complaining about
smokers, they would demand tables near them.

Secondhand smoke? Forget that one! Smokers standing outside buildings
to puff would be surrounded by nonsmokers inhaling deeply. Not only
would this improve lung health in the masses, but think of all the new
friends smokers would make.

Future lawsuits concerning smoking would disappear; think of the
effect on trial lawyers. Anyone feel bad about that?

The intake of alcohol would drop precipitously, since having a smoke
with your beer would increase the buzz with less booze. With less
alcohol being consumed, the number of bar fights would drop at an
exponential rate. This would result in a drop in police calls and
court actions, saving us lots of money in law enforcement. The drop in
alcohol consumption would lower the number of domestic

Having a smoke on the way home would greatly decrease the number of
road rage incidents.

We could tax the bejabbers out of pot, and smokers would pay

We would end a lot of the problems at the border, because most of the
illegal drugs going north are bales of marijuana. If it's legal, it
crosses like tequila, but in greater volume.

New advertising revenue from marijuana sales. I can see it now: "Juan
isn't growing the easiest pot in the world, he's growing excellent
weed." Think of the money there.

I could go on and on, but I think I've made the point. Approximately
12 million people in the United States smoke pot and are not being
hurt. About 450,000 people will die of diseases related to tobacco use
this year. It's a no-brainer: lower costs, more tax revenues, happier

So what's the downside to this? The only one I can see is that
marijuana makes people happy, so conservatives will fight legalization
to the end. Maybe that's why they like tobacco so much -- it hurts
those who enjoy it.

Curtis G. Berndt is a resident of Fremont.
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