Pubdate: Fri, 14 Nov 2008
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Iowan
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


The decisions made this past week to lessen the penalties surrounding
one certain leafy green plant has left many proponents of medical and
recreational marijuana (not horticulturists) swooning. In
Massachusetts, voters elected to decriminalize up to an ounce of the
substance. Similarly, voters in Michigan voted in favor of Proposal 1,
which will now allow the prescription of medical marijuana in the state.

This decision will positively affect both states, and other states
should follow their lead. Fourteen states across the nation allow the
use of medical marijuana, and 12 states have decriminalized it. Even
though many opponents of marijuana believe that allowing medical use
of the substance will only contribute to the deterioration of society,
transforming children into drug-obsessed heathens and generating
marijuana dispensaries as plentiful as gas stations on every street
corner, there are many benefits that will surface with these new decisions.

Crime is everywhere, and we can gather this just by watching the
nightly news. Every day, people cheat, steal, and corrupt others. In
extreme cases, hate crimes, rape, and murder are perpetrated. That
said, the police have enough crime to tackle without also having to be
concerned with what Joe Pothead is doing in his basement or what Sally
Smith does to make the pain of her terminal illness more tolerable.
There are real criminals still wandering around freely in society who
have escaped punishment numerous times. Yet, when Joe Pothead is
caught rolling a joint on a street corner with a friend, he is thrown
in jail. What a waste of time and money our "marijuana witch hunt" has
become. Jailhouse seats should be saved and kept warm for murderers
and rapists, not for those people who use marijuana medically and
recreationally in moderation. Police effort should be concentrated
elsewhere, and the money saved in arrests can be put toward
reprimanding those people who really dese! rve to spend time in tiny
jail cells.

And as for those people who are suffering from painful terminal
illnesses, the decriminalization of marijuana may help them to better
cope with the complications of their illness. These people are doing
nothing wrong, only trying to make the best out of what is left of
their lives. The argument that equates pot smoking to the destruction
of society is almost as ludicrous and ill-informed as the argument
that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will somehow create
mass pandemonium and disarray in our society. What people are doing in
the privacy of their own homes, as long as it isn't harming the people
around them, shouldn't matter to everyone else, and it is ridiculous
for anyone to keep pretending that it does.

Massachusetts and Michigan should be praised for their decision to
lessen the penalties on marijuana. There are better ways for
law-enforcement officials to use their time and resources than to
endlessly chase after marijuana users. These two states should be
commended for recognizing this fact and for realizing that there are
more serious issues to deal with than marijuana use.
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