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The Orion

Let’s move on: Legalize marijuana

Illustrated by Trevor Moore

Personally, I’m really sick of this debate. Marijuana (aka pot, Mary Jane, MJ, dope, etc.) has been in the spotlight for too many years. I’m tired of the back and forth.

Four states, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The world didn’t come to an end. The Flying Spaghetti Monster didn’t descend from that great colander in the sky and rip those states off the face of the planet. And no hordes of stoned potheads have been breaking into fights over the last bag of Doritos at 7-Eleven.

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency lists marijuana as a Class I controlled substance along with heroin, while cocaine is listed as a Class II substance. Alcohol, a substance that has proven medical side effects, doesn’t get classified at all.

What does the government have against pot?

1. Legalization of marijuana in parts of the U.S. has seen a reduction of smuggling by drug cartels along the border.

2. Some research has shown alcohol use to result in more violence than smoking pot. (This research is from a pro-pot organization, so take it with a grain of salt.)

3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that alcohol causes about 88,000 deaths a year, while a single confirmed marijuana-related death has yet to be recorded.

4. The decriminalization of pot and a regulation and taxation system could bring in $10-14 billion in revenues, according to a Harvard economist.

So let’s move on.

I have friends that smoke it. I have family that smokes it. I also have family and friends who drink, and it is the drinkers that get into problems not the smokers.

Personally, I don’t smoke pot. I don’t really like the way it makes me feel — enhancing an anxiety disorder is not pretty.

Is there really some sort of weird moral imperative against marijuana? Is there a reason, testable under rational, scientific experimental conditions, to continue to outlaw this substance? Or does it come back to morality?

This is one of the same arguments that was brought forward for alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century.

I hope that, as a nation, we remember how well that turned out.

I believe that the federal government should:

1. Remove marijuana from the Class I list.

2. Legalize for recreational use.

3. Set a 21-year-old age restriction.

4. Remove criminal possession thresholds. No one gets cited for having a fully stocked liquor cabinet.

5. Set regulation and quality control standards for growing, processing, packaging and selling.

6. License and regulate marijuana growers and businesses.

7. Tax marijuana in the same bracket as cigarettes and alcohol. Both the latter have higher taxes applied to them.

8. Use collected taxes for public education.

9. Revisit sentences for those incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana possession or sales to determine early release dates.

In short, make sure the pot is clean and good, roll and package into five- or 10-packs of joints, sell it in the convenience store down the street, leave the stoners alone and watch tax revenues climb.

Joseph Rogers can be reached at [email protected] or @JosephLRogers1 on Twitter.

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