HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Just Stop The Nonsense And Legalize Marijuana
Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jun 2011
Source: Muskegon Chronicle, The (MI)
Copyright: 2011 The Muskegon Chronicle
Author: Steve Gunn, The Muskegon Chronicle
Note: Steve Gunn, a former Chronicle staff writer, is the
communications director of Education Action Group. He adds a local
conservative voice to our columnist lineup.


We live in a representative democracy. That means we elect people to
make decisions on our behalf.

But some state constitutions, like Michigan's, give the people the
opportunity to have the final word through ballot referendums.

That happened here in 2008, when Michigan voters overwhelmingly
decided to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. The total "yes"
vote was over 60 percent. It wasn't even close.

But somewhere along the way, our elected representatives have
forgotten the meaning of the phrase "the people have spoken." They're
attacking the law at the local, state and federal levels, threatening
to delete the will of the majority.

It's not supposed to happen like this.

We've had several recent episodes of federal narcotics agents bursting
into private homes and businesses and harassing sellers of medical
marijuana. I suppose that's a bit easier to understand, because
marijuana remains completely illegal at the federal level and our
state law is in direct conflict.

The feds really ought to relax and let the states decide what works
for them. But that's an argument for another day.

I really don't understand numerous municipal governments throughout
the state passing ordinances banning the sale of medical marijuana.
Even the good people on the Muskegon Township board have been troubled
by the presence of a medical marijuana center and have considered an
ordinance to ban or regulate it.

The people of Michigan are clearly not disturbed by the idea of their
fellow citizens using marijuana to kill pain. So why should the
government be up in arms?

The critics claim the law is too vague, and doesn't spell out clearly
enough who can use medical marijuana, where it can be used and who is
qualified to sell it.

I'm sure the patients and their providers are quite capable of
figuring out those details without bothering anyone. So why should the
government bother them? Don't our elected officials have more pressing
issues to worry about?

I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure marijuana of a sufficient potency
can blunt any ache or pain known to mankind. I guess that sort of
makes it like aspirin. Why aren't our elected officials having fits
about the guy downing a few Extra Strength Tylenol?

I think opponents of medical marijuana are really upset because the
new law has blurred the line between legal and illegal. They prefer
the good old days of black and white, when marijuana was considered an
evil substance, unacceptable for use in all civilized

But the majority of Americans have matured beyond that point. Millions
actually smoke marijuana on a regular basis, and come from all walks
of life. And millions of nonsmokers don't waste their time worrying
about other people's habits.

The moralists among us must accept a basic fact: We live in a free
society, and people have different ideas of right and wrong. It's
undemocratic for a small group of zealots to force their rigid ideals
on the majority.

Perhaps the blurring of pot laws is a necessary step toward eventual
legalization. I've read strong arguments from commentators on the left
and right who agree that the government is wasting time and resources
fighting a substance that the public demands.

You would think we would have learned a lesson from prohibition. In
1918, our nation's moral crusaders managed to pass a constitutional
amendment banning the distribution or use of alcohol. But they forgot
one key fact. The American people liked booze, and they were going to
get it, one way or another.

A black market quickly popped up, and dangerous mobsters quickly
cornered the illegal alcohol market. A lot of turf wars and murders
followed, because we were stupid enough to turn a major industry over
to the likes of Al Capone.

The states came to their senses in 1933 and overturned the ban on
alcohol. Instead of waging a war against a popular product, the
government regulated its use, taxed it and made a lot of money from

The best part is that legalization of alcohol put the Capone types out
of business and ended a long, ugly period of unnecessary violence.

Now there's an idea.

Instead of spending billions of dollars every year in a pointless war
against marijuana, why not make billions by legalizing and taxing it?
Millions of people would be able to possess a product they desire, the
government would have a new source of desperately needed revenue, and
we could probably reduce the number of senseless shootings in our

We could create a win-win situation for everyone, instead of engaging
in a pointless struggle to keep people from doing what they're going
to do, anyway. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.