Pubdate: Wed, 30 Sep 1998
Source: Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY)
Author: Thomas Ellis


The war on drugs, especially marijuana, is among the stupidest
policies the federal and state governments have ever undertaken.  Half
a million people in the United States will be arrested this year for
marijuana possession.

There are about 70 million living Americans who have smoked hemp (and
inhaled). I imagine most of them have gotten bored with pot, or lost
interest in it for some reason or another, but tens of millions of
Americans are smoking it this year.

It is time to bury the fiction that smoking pot is bad. Most people
who smoke hemp do so because it is fun. Having an altered state of
consciousness - at least occasionally - is good.

While working as a substitute teacher years ago, students would often
ask me about marijuana. I said the most dangerous things about
marijuana are that it is illegal and it may have been sprayed with
deadly herbicides. I would rather see a 16-year-old getting high once
or twice a week on pot than smoking a pack of Winstons a day or
getting drunk every weekend. Tobacco and alcohol are addictive and can
kill you, but not marijuana.

I do not recommend marijuana for everyone. Some people cannot handle
it well. I have seen more than a few people waste 10 or 20 years of
their lives smoking pot daily, and amounting to nothing. But I know
just as many people who smoke it daily or frequently, and work regular
jobs, pay taxes, own or rent houses, raise good kids, and contribute
positively to their communities.

If one reads American, European, or Asian history, one will see that
hemp has been cultivated for centuries and used for dozens of
products, including paper, fuel, cooking oil, rope, clothing and
medicine. Hemp is an incredibly versatile weed.

Instead of the now-common middle-aged politicians describing their
past marijuana use as a "youthful indiscretion," I look forward to the
day when electoral candidates have the guts to say, "I smoked pot, had
lots of fun doing it, and I do not care if you do." It is time to
re-legalize marijuana.

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Checked-by: Patrick Henry