Pubdate: Fri, 03 Feb 2012
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Copyright: 2012 The Daily Iowan
Author: Will Mattessich


Decriminalization of marijuana is not an issue that is discussed by
Serious People in America who want to focus on Serious Issues. It's
just "pot." It's for "stoners." You want it to be legal? You must be a

It's not a Serious Issue. This attitude and the amount of
misinformation about marijuana is destroying the ability to have a
rational debate on the topic.

It's a new age of McCarthyism, but instead of calling adversaries
communists, the pro-criminalization camp labels their opponents
"stoners," a far more effective label because it implies incompetence
rather than dastardly plans. President Obama and candidate Mitt Romney
have both avoided questions about medicinal marijuana during the
caucus and primary season. Some Iowa legislators, including Iowa
City's Sen. Joe Bolkcomm, are hoping to start a discussion on the
issue of medical marijuana this year, but getting their colleagues to
take the issue seriously will be an uphill battle.

The rhetoric from anti-drug websites such as "Above the Influence"
assists in preventing a rational discussion on the issue. Its page of
"Drug Facts" about marijuana implies that the reason someone would
want to use the drug is because of such movies as Pineapple Express,
stating "Some movies and music make 'stoner' culture seem cool,
natural, and like it's not a big deal."

This type of information feeds into the myth that everyone who has
ever used the drug is just like Seth Rogen and James Franco's
characters in Pineapple Express. It neglects to mention that many
marijuana users are people with debilitating illnesses, many of them
productive members of society solely because of the benefits the drug

New research continually shows that the bogeymen of permanent
cognitive impairment and marijuana as a "gateway drug" are a result of
misunderstood statistics and temperance propaganda rather than sound
methods. On the other hand, the positive medical effects of the drug
have been proven in many cases.

Iowa City had 662 drug-related arrests in 2010, according to the Iowa
City Police Department's annual report. The Iowa City police spent
$100,000 last year alone to seize drugs on I-80. In 2009, authorities
sent armies into Currier to catch 19-year-olds with marijuana in their
rooms. What if, instead of spending the money and manpower on a tiny
green plant that causes people to cough and sit on their couches, we
put more officers on the street to catch armed robbers or rapists?

Those of us who don't use marijuana often take a laissez-faire
attitude to criminalization without realizing that the drug war and
unfairly enforced marijuana laws have effects beyond only users. One
of the largest side effects of the drug war is the creation of a
massive surveillance apparatus that can be used against us grass-free
citizens as well. Law-enforcement agencies have pushed for greater
ability to electronically spy on citizens through the drug war, which
costs billions of dollars and hundreds of lives annually. The CIA and
FBI collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security (a
governmental organ that is seeming more and more Orwellian as the
years go by) to create a vast network of border surveillance including
unmanned drones spying on American soil, ostensibly to catch
terrorists and drug traffickers.

A Gallup Poll from October showed that, for the first time, a
plurality of Americans supported legalizing marijuana. The group that
was most likely to say they wanted to keep the drug illegal were
respondents aged 65 and older. Hopefully, this trend means that
rational and moral reforms in the country's drug laws are coming soon.

Criminalization of marijuana is a waste of money and an assault on
civil liberty. The change begins when the public matures enough to
take the issue seriously. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.