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Mary Jane Up For Debate

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Oh no, those hippies are at it again! First these dreadlock deadbeats won, at 63 percent, a direct ballot initiative to make marijuana a low priority for the Eureka Springs police department. Now these folks from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws want to cause harm to our little campus in the hills by making the penalties for being caught with grass as minor as the penalties for being busted for drinking. What are they thinking?!?!

Actually, in our opinion, their thinking is genius and a much appreciated gesture. What NORML, and particularly president Jordan Dickerson, is doing is exactly what we want to see in a civilized, open-minded democracy.

The resolution going up for debate in Associated Student Government tomorrow, sponsored by ASG senators Megan Bright and Jacob Halloway, proposes that the UA accept marijuana use on a more factual foundation, citing that marijuana is safer than alcohol.

We can already see those older readers and more closed-minded students who roll their eyes and think, "Oh yeah. Of course they're for legalizing anything that will mess them up. How juvenile! How hedonistic and repulsive!" But it's more complicated than that.

The resolution asks at the UA bring marijuana violations on campus down to the level of an alcohol violation. Dickerson, in political terms, is looking to create "a more sensible drug policy." Thus, violations regarding marijuana should not be punished more than violations regarding alcohol or cigarettes.

Prior conversation between NORML executives and ASG members resulted in a warning from UA administration via ASG. If ASG were to pass the resolution, then the administration would grant them their wish by increasing the punishment for alcohol violations up to the same level as a marijuana violation on campus.

After NORML's initial run with UA administration regarding the resolution, they added a clause asking the UA to clarify the enforced policies for marijuana and alcohol violations in the UA handbook.

If the resolution does pass in ASG, NORML hopes to establish a dialog with the UA regarding their enforced policies, desiring to discuss the implications of "the facts" of marijuana use, Dickerson said.

We genuinely understand if some of the members of ASG are a bit squeamish about supporting a resolution that asks the UA to make the punishments associated with marijuana on par with those associated with drinking. Most of us at the paper hope to someday be professional journalists, and we imagine most people in ASG hope to someday be professional politicians. Without a hint of degradation, we understand ASG members are worried about their future "political images," especially if they support the Wacky Weed.

Yet by definition, the ASG is the representation of UA students. The Traveler conducted an online poll asking students: "Do you believe marijuana use is safer than alcohol use?" Fifty-eight percent - 223 students - said yes, marijuana was safer.

No one has died from a pot overdose.

It does not breed violence.

It is less harmful than any other drug.

Leading by punishment only makes people resentful. America's prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s speaks miles for the damage that restriction can cause to an otherwise harmless public. By today's standards, who really looks down on those who drank when it was illegal?

We have high hopes that the ASG Senate will lead by example. No one is asking the senators to prove their worth by toking up on the Senate floor, and no one is saying that marijuana isn't harmful if put in irresponsible hands. What the Traveler is asking is for the ASG Senate to do what it sought to do from day one, which is to speak as the unified voice of students.

Senators should make it clear to the generations of the past that they believe in closing the gap of some inequalities by declaring the absurdity of some ideas of the status quo. Only then can we move forward. Not toward a "better" tomorrow or one filled with drug-addled lowlifes. But one where we can logically and civilly address ridiculous principles put forth by generations of ignorance.

Looking at the overall picture, it's hard for us to comprehend why the United States is so anxious and timid about pushing for specific marijuana reforms. It only takes a quick glance at history to see how absurd our current "debate" over marijuana is.

It was the opium wars (kept going through primarily jingoistic and racial hatred) that first connected marijuana and its effects to mostly the poor, black and Chinese. It's embarrassing to watch "Reefer Madness," a 1936 drama film revolving around the tragic events that follow when high school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana. It's disturbing, especially for those who smoke. The film depicts students going wild when they use the drug, and spreads fear of the "crazy-negro affliction" that caused its black users to rape and pillage innocent white women.

Medically, there is always the argument that smoking marijuana causes, among other things, impotence, memory loss and the destruction of brain cells. The natural response to that argument is, well, so do alcohol, TV and Dan Brown novels.

That's just poor logic. One cannot make a case for an argument by giving examples of other harmful, yet legal, things. But singling out marijuana as the one and only line of addictive harm is biased and ignorant.

It can be said that alcohol damages society more than marijuana. From 2001 to 2003, more than 78,000 people died in the United States because of alcohol-related incidents or health conditions, according to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.

Addiction comes in many forms. An over-indulgence in anything will harm you in the end. The effects of an over-indulgence in marijuana is what Ad Council ads focus on. But even the "this is your brain on drugs" argument is losing face.

The only half-valid reason the Ad Council now gives is that marijuana makes you lazy and unproductive. They've given up on telling us that using marijuana will destroy our minds or bodies. Because everyone knows the damage that alcohol and cigarettes cause, but these are still culturally acceptable forms of destroying your body.



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Source: The Traveler
Contact: The Traveler
Copyright: 2007 The Traveler
Website: Mary Jane up for debate - Opinion
 
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