The topic of marijuana law reform has been beaten to death – especially in the arena of student discourse. When public speaking teachers introduce persuasive speeches, most will include it in a list of taboo, overdone topics. “We get it; you want to get high,” they must think.
Every possible argument has been wringed of every drop of evidence as to why the drug should be legalized. We could list these arguments; we could list the reasons, but everyone’s heard them already, right?
We could explain that, from a health perspective, marijuana does not damage the body nearly as much as alcohol, nor does it impair inhibitions as much. It is rare to hear about someone going on a violent rampage or causing a deadly car accident while high – though these are both fairly common occurrences among the drunk.
We could cite the actual health benefits of marijuana for both curative and pain management purposes. We could repeat stories from cancer survivors who say that the drug saved their lives or has allowed them to enjoy the life they have left.
We could compare the war on drugs to alcohol prohibition and explain that making relatively harmless substances illegal only propagates violence and makes dangerous criminals out of those who would otherwise just sit on their couch, high, staring at the TV.
We could provide you with numbers that show how much taxpayer money is wasted jailing children and young adults for possession and sale of the drug. And we could include the numbers that show most of them are black men from inner city areas, despite marijuana use being just as common among rich white people.
We could rant about this racist system and how drug laws are used to keep those living in dangerous, impoverished situations from getting out.
And we could tell you that legalizing marijuana will have enormous economic benefits, as Colorado has shown us, by providing an influx of new tax money that can be funneled into areas that desperately need it – like the education system.
We could argue these points, we could quote experts and cite numbers – but would it help the argument? You’ve heard it all before.
So why isn’t it legal yet?
It seems that we are finally heading in that direction at a steady pace. State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) announced at this year’s Hash Bash that he will be introducing a bill to legalize marijuana for recreational use, in the same vein as the laws in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
It’s time that this country sees the light – state by state; let’s legalize it.
When the time comes, and the bill inevitably reaches the Michigan ballots, vote, because everyone wants this played-out discussion to be over already.