Pubdate: Wed,  1 Dec 2004
Source: Sidelines, The (TN Edu)
Copyright: 2004 Middle Tennessee State University
Author: Klara Nizki
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Youth)


I don't normally approve of recreational drug use, but I do believe that 
marijuana should be legalized, at least for medical purposes. This is 
something our country has argued over for decades. I feel that we're making 
a mockery of this argument.

I'm baffled at the media coverage of the hearing on legalizing or outlawing 
marijuana. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, will 
not be present due to thyroid cancer. My point is that his presence doesn't 
matter anyway, because his mind is made up on the matter, being the strict, 
conservative that he is - even if he is briefed on the hearings from his 
bed. The media is already throwing out replacement options if Rehnquist 
dies. It's kind of embarrassing.

The slaughter of U.S. ideals continues with the media's videos of a woman, 
Angel Raich, who has a brain tumor and can barely move. In the video, she 
is pleading for the federal legalization of medical marijuana. Her husband 
claims that marijuana is the reason his wife has not yet withered away - it 
eases the pain and increases her appetite. Raich claimed that she would 
continue smoking even if the drug became outlawed through federal legislation.

Eleven states have left it up to physicians to diagnose and treat certain 
painful symptoms with marijuana. However, even those physicians have to 
grow it themselves or even obtain it illegally, according a recent article 
in the Portland Press Herald.

Let's look at this problem from an economic perspective. Do you know how 
much tax money is lost preventing the use of marijuana and the resulting 
lost potential tax revenues? People will smoke marijuana anyway, even if 
they have to obtain it from unknown sources (this includes the physicians 
who buy it for their patients), where it could possibly be laced with 
something dangerous. The money used to buy this drug goes to untraceable 
recipients. We had the same problem with prohibition in the early 1900s.

If marijuana was controlled, like tobacco - except not as readily available 
- - then we could track what is going on, bring in tax revenue and try to 
think of the best options we could have to make marijuana "safer." Sure, 
other more "heavy" drugs would be around, but then we could concentrate on 
drug education, instead of fighting back and forth.

The tobacco business is a really good example. Once the Master Settlement 
Agreement legislation was passed in the late 1990s, smoking has been on a 
sharp decline, even among high school kids. This legislation banned 
advertising towards children and used the money from tobacco taxes to fund 
educational programs about smoking. It's been about six years and the 
difference is tremendous. I feel that a similar result could be achieved 
with marijuana.

Many of you may not know, but there are several legal herbs and natural 
stimulants that leave you with a "high." Valerian Root, for example, acts 
as a tranquilizer, which was heavily prescribed in London during the 
Blitzkrieg era. Either young adults simply don't know or it's just old 
news, because you can just get it at any health food store without a 
problem. It's not cool anymore.

So what happens if marijuana was legal? Maybe people would move on to 
other, more hard-hitting drugs. Any person, especially a child, will get 
into something they are curious about.

Our job as parents and a society - after all it does take a village to 
raise a child - is to educate, educate, educate. And not in a cheesy way, 
but be forthright about it and honest. Maybe it's the overall feeling of 
boredom, or perhaps loneliness, that can drive a person ever further down 
the spiral of addiction. In my opinion, this is something not even worth 
fighting about. We have much more important issues to worry about, such as 
education, America's starving population and finishing this war.

Klara Nizki is a junior business major.
- ---