Student Questions Why Marijuana Is Illegal And Poses Reasons Why It Should
Not Be.

Semester after semester, year after year, college students continue to
question the legitimacy of our nation's marijuana prohibition. Throughout
my time here at KU, I have explored this issue, but have yet to be
satisfied with a logically sound argument supporting pot's illegality. If
knowledge is power, then it's necessary to open the eyes of those blinded
by the drug war's propaganda, in order for a more sensible policy to
emerge. I've spoken with several public officials about the legalization of
marijuana and many of their anti-legalization arguments are easily
countered and surprisingly naive.

Congressman Tim Holden argues that "Prohibiting the non-medicinal use of
certain mind-altering substances has been a public policy goal of the
federal government for more than a century." Aren't alcohol, caffeine, and
even tobacco all "mind-altering substances" of some sort? It's widely
accepted that public policy is often outdated and socially harmful. Take
for instance, slavery or the prohibition of alcohol. If traditional thought
wins out over intellectual debate, then democracy is dead. My father once
told me that success lies in one's ability to change. Changing your
thoughts and actions is hard, but not impossible.

The congressman went further to say that the economic costs of drug abuse
were estimated to be near "$160 billion in 2000." That includes lost
productivity, health care costs, and the costs associated with the
incarceration of drug abusers. Although lost productivity and the costs of
health care are serious problems, I would assume those consequences are
triggered more by hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin or LSD, than
marijuana. More importantly, the majority of the economic costs associated
with drug abuse stem from the prison system. That is, it is costing our
nation much more to keep marijuana illegal than if it were to be legalized,
and many of the top private contributors to the drug war are pharmaceutical
companies, who would rather have citizens get high on their own products.
Simply put, they're eliminating competition. President Cevallos was also
considerate enough to discuss this issue with me. He explained both the
pros and cons of the legalization of marijuana.

"[Legalization] would limit the role of the Mafia and 'cartels' in dealing
with marijuana-probably even generate some tax revenue," said Dr. Cevallos.
Although this is an excellent point, it may be rather understated. The
potential for both a drastic reduction in crime rates and a huge increase
in revenue, either from taxes or a state run marijuana institution like the
state liquor stores, is incredible.

Negatively, "[marijuana] is a drug, it does alter your perceptions, it does
put people at risk -driving, behaviors, attitudes, etc." Also valid points,
but this does not seem to affect our government's views of alcohol. Age
requirements and driving restrictions could be implemented, similar to
those already in place with regard to alcohol.

Pubdate: Sat, 19 Apr 2003
Source: University Leader, The (KS Edu)
Copyright: 2003 The University Leader