Life has been a bit hazy since I arrived at college. Sure, some of it may be from the five hours of sleep I get each night, but mostly it's due to my good friend Mary Jane.
Throughout high school, smoking weed didn't appeal to me. I thought that if I smoked, I would become lazy and end up just sitting around all day. Then, during my senior year, I experienced a revelation. There were already plenty of days where I just sat around in my underwear, so what did I have to lose?
Can you guess what changed in my day-to-day life?
I still lived my life exactly as I always had, except my down time was now filled with giggles and snacks. I quickly learned that many of the preconceptions I had about marijuana were completely false.
First off, marijuana doesn't make you lazy. I can completely understand where this myth comes from, however. There have been dozens of times where I've ended up just sitting around all night with my friends, watching TV. But what most don't take into account is that there wasn't anything else to do before we did our thing. Weed just makes an already boring night less boring.
Maybe it's because I'm from a small town with nothing else to do, but marijuana has been the inspiration for more adventure-filled nights than I can count. It is the sole reason for the birth of Walmart hide-and-seek.
Another thing I have come to realize is that the term "gateway drug", which is associated so frequently with marijuana, is complete nonsense. Of all the tokers I have ever come into contact with, the overwhelming majority would never touch harder drugs.
Now, don't go saying that they are already drug addicts just because they smoke weed. As Katt Williams tells us, "I've done the research. It's just a plant. It just grows like that. And if you just happen to set it on fire, there are some effects."
The No. 1 myth that I found to be a lie is that marijuana has negative affects on your health. Obviously, this isn't completely false. If you set anything on fire and breathe in the smoke, it's going to do some bodily damage. But it won't kill you, which is more than I can say for some legal substances.
The annual death toll caused by tobacco is 435,000. Alcohol follows with an annual death count of 85,000. Deaths from marijuana: zero.
So naturally, after all this time without experiencing any negative side effects, I began to question why it was illegal. That's right, ladies and gentlemen. This has all been a prelude to a pothead's rant on why marijuana should be legalized.
It's no secret that our nation's economy is in the dumps. Our national debt is nearly at the $12 trillion mark. So how can we help to resolve this? Well, I think you all know what I'm driving at here.
According to "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," written by Harvard economics professor Jeffrey A. Miron, the nation spends $7.7 billion each year enforcing marijuana prohibition. We really can't think of anything better that money could be spent on?
Furthermore, if marijuana were to be taxed like a general product, it could raise $2.4 billion annually. But if it were taxed in a similar way to alcohol or tobacco, which is much more likely, it could generate upwards of $6.2 billion.
So between the $7.7 billion saved on prohibition and the $6.2 billion collected in taxes, legalizing marijuana could provide the nation with $13.9 billion. I'm not saying it will completely resolve our nation's economic problems, but it would certainly help.
The majority of the nation seems to agree as well. A poll conducted by Zogby International found that 57 percent of the people surveyed said that they support the legalization of marijuana.
To recap, many of the stoner stereotypes are false. Weed doesn't kill anyone, ever. It could provide the country with $13.9 billion. And the majority of the country supports legalization.
So if all these things are true, why isn't marijuana legal? This is supposed to be a country for the people, by the people. And the people have spoken - they want legalization.
By James Twigg
September 24, 2009
The SUNY at Buffalo