10 Reasons to Legalise Cannabis

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Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
There are any number of explanations that can be given for the illegality of cannabis. Opponents will say that it's unhealthy and addictive — I am not going to try to disprove these accusations, but let me just say that they're not nearly as well founded as these people believe. Proponents will point to inertia, racial and social prejudice in America, and a whole range of conspiracy theories. I won't get into it, but I am in this camp. What is clear to me is that we in Ireland simply follow the US and UK willy-nilly in these matters. What I want to give you are 10 reasons why we should legalise cannabis:

1 ) Taxation
An obvious plus for the government. A lot of cannabis gets grown and sold in Ireland. That should read: a lot of potential tax in Ireland is not being collected. Whatever way you look at this, taxation is good. Government revenue of this kind means that the average taxpayer doesn't have to pay as much. That also means that the government has an easier job. And, if Amsterdam is anything to go by, the prices would still drop, since a legal drug would be grown and harvested more efficiently. Everyone wins.

2 ) It is safe for the user
There is no such thing as a cannabis overdose. It has never been recorded. You would need roughly 10,000 joints to do it. I'm not just pulling this figure out of thin air. The safety ratio of a drug is the ratio of a lethal dosage to an intoxicating dosage. For alcohol, it's about 10:1, because if 2 whiskeys in half an hour would make you drunk, then 20 whiskeys would kill you. For THC it's more like 40,000:1.

3 ) It is safe for other people
Seriously, how many times has someone been killed in a stoned argument? I'd say roughly never. People who use cannabis just get mildly annoyed with mean people and then go looking for grilled food. On a similar note, however, if cannabis was legal, then we could set up a system for testing drivers for cannabis consumption. It does impair motor skills, of course. As it stands, there is no check available.

4 ) Encouragement of responsible use
Obviously, we all think that people should use drugs responsibly. However, since the government either pretends that cannabis doesn't exist or that it is an unjustifiable evil, we see no public service notices telling us to take it easy on cannabis. Of course, that might just be because it doesn't result in social problems in the way that legal drug, alcohol, does.

5 ) Gateway drug hypothesis
Yes, that's right. For people who don't know about this, it is the idea that cannabis acts as a "gateway" to hard drugs. The truth, I believe, is that people who have already gone down the "illegal drug" path become more likely to go further down that path. It has nothing to do with the individual drug or its effects; just whether it is legal. If the legality of drugs was based on the safety of consuming them, then cannabis would be legal. So, if a safe drug is bundled in with seriously unsafe drugs like ***, ******* or ******, people may believe they're not taking a huge step in taking one of these.

6 ) Healthier methods of use
Smoking is never good for you. If someone wants to use cannabis, the easiest thing to do is to roll it into a joint. That means inhaling hot cannabis smoke. That's not good. It also means inhaling paper and tobacco smoke, and we know for absolute surety that that's not good. The healthiest way known to take THC is to inhale it in vapour form (a bit like drawing in a helium balloon). But there's no way that your average casual user could afford a vaporiser, so unless it can be sold in little balloons, the unhealthy method rules.

7 ) Health standards of cannabis
If you buy an illegal drug, you can only be sure of what you're getting if you trust the quality of the entire production process. This is because it's not regulated. There are no quality standards. There are no health standards. You might say that people deserve to take this chance if they choose to buy an illegal drug. Would you say the same if alcohol was illegal? I don't think so.

8 ) Proper scientific testing
Something which is quite frustrating when talking about legalising cannabis is that there are no studies which can be relied on. You can pull out papers which say it makes you smarter, it makes you stupider, it's more carcinogenic than tobacco, it's not carcinogenic, it's addictive, it's not addictive, etc. etc. The thing is, testing is greatly hindered by its illegality. If we can't even tell what the dangers and benefits are, how on earth do we decide to criminalise it?

9 ) Medical usage
Medical usage is being taken a lot more seriously than recreational usage in the US and Canada, as well as some European countries. I don't know much about this, other than that enough doctors believe in its usefulness for it to be a significant argument.

10 ) It's really enjoyable!
I'm sorry, but I can't go through a full article like this and not mention why people decide to take it! It has so much more depth than alcohol: it makes people think in a way they never would otherwise; it makes music, film and food so much better; it brings people into a childlike frame of mind and it just generally makes everyone happy. I just can't understand the tendency that we have to ban things which are enjoyable. It reminds me a bit of my primary school, where whenever something became popular (e.g. football stickers, pogs, yo-yos, conkers, Pokémon cards...), it was banned. We only have one life — why do we wage war on the freedom to enjoy it?

So, I do encourage everyone to attend the march on May 8th. I think it would take real strength from the Irish Government to legalise it before the USA (which is imminent, starting with California) or UK, but it would be a wise move. I don't know which way a referendum would go. I'd like to think that the Irish public would be open-minded enough to legalise it, but maybe not yet. I, for one, believe it should have already happened.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Cork Student News
Author: Mark O'Neill
Contact: Cork Student News
Copyright: 2010 Cork Student News
Website: 10 Reasons to Legalise Cannabis