Pubdate: Sun, 14 Jun 2009
Source: Albany Herald, The (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Albany Herald Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Carlton Fletcher
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


What I'm about to say bears explanation. I'll try to get there ... so
stick with me.

The United States government's so-called war on drugs is a dismal
failure. The outlaws who grow, manufacture and distribute illegal
substances are far too clever, motivated and well-equipped to be
stopped by the understaffed and underfunded agencies charged with
stopping them.

The results: We've turned our neighbor to the south into a dangerous
drug state run by drug lords whose operations are financed by this
country's demand for an ever-increasing supply of their product.

With that scenario in mind, I'd like to go on record as favoring the
decriminalization of marijuana in this country. Now, my simply
repeating what others more educated and eloquent have said before me
is of little significance. But let me give you a little background to
help you understand why my making such a statement will at least raise
the eyebrows of those who know me.

I have never tried pot. Ever. Not one hit, one toke, one puff, one ..
whatever cool word is in vogue today. Never even been tempted.

I've never been one who's particularly concerned what others think of
me - can't remember ever justifying an action with the argument
"everyone else is doing it" - so I've never even pulled a Clinton and
faked my way through a potential buzz-kill situation by feigning
intake ... you know, the "I didn't inhale" ruse.

Oh, I've been places where I was the only one who wasn't smoking pot -
or doing more serious drugs - and my best friend in the world when we
were teenagers back in the '70s smoked most of the time he was awake.
He begged me to give it a try, his argument: "You love music so much,
you won't believe how good it sounds when you're high."

And, yes, I'm the same guy who's been to Woodstock, to Ozzfest, to Led
Zeppelin, Metallica, Eminem, Ice Cube, Korn, Willie Nelson and Black
Crowes concerts. I even spent a couple of hours on a tour bus with
David Allan Coe, for goodness' sake.

But I'm also the one who turned down marinol (medical marijuana) when
I was going through chemo.

Having said that, now maybe you understand why my support for
marijuana legalization in this country is not the same as, say, Snoop
Dogg expressing the same sentiment.

You see, our jails are jam-packed with men, women and even juveniles
whose lives have been wrecked simply for possessing a substance whose
effects, while potentially dangerous in certain circumstances, are by
no means life-threatening. Certainly pot has not been the cause of
nearly as many deaths and accidents as alcohol or tobacco products.

That being the case, one might logically ask, why are alcohol and
tobacco legal and pot not? You can probably begin to understand the
answer to that question if you visit Congress and take note of (a) the
money and perks that are given our government leaders by the alcohol
and tobacco industries and their minions and (b) the number of those
same leaders who imbibe in both quite regularly.

I'm sure a lot of them surreptitiously smoke weed as well, but that
they keep guarded. Don't want to upset the folks back home.

If pot were legal in this country, crime would decrease immensely and
immediately. Not just possession arrests, but the smuggling and
distribution busts as well. And while some argue that government
regulation of marijuana would take the sale of the herb out of the
hands of one set of crooks and put it into the hands of another, at
least some of the money would make it into our tax coffers.

Imagine how drug lords' empires would fall if America's pot crop
futures were traded on the commodities exchange along with wheat,
soybeans and sow bellies.

Many in favor of decriminalization say the allure of pot would
actually diminish among younger people if the drug were regulated and
sold legally. I don't know about that, but I have no doubt it's time
for our government to bring a halt to a "war" whose casualties include
the futures of many otherwise innocent people and families. It's a war
the government has no chance of winning.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin