Pubdate: Sun, 23 Aug 1998
Date: 08/23/1998
Source: Centre Daily Times (PA)
Author: Kirk Nechamkin

While marijuana is most definitely a psychoactive drug with
intoxicating properties, it absolutely does not promote violence like
alcohol does. In the Netherlands, coffee shops that serve marijuana
are notorious for their peaceful atmosphere. Anybody who frequents
them will tell you that there is never any violence or lunacy
associated with marijuana use. There is no reason why Americans should
not have the freedom to consume marijuana.

Some people think that people should be free to do things the
overhwhelming marjority of society agrees upon. In acuality, this is
not freedom. Nobody needs the freedom to do that which everyone will

Personal liberty comes at an expense to society. This is a defining
characteristic of liberty.

In a recent column in the CDT, Joseph B. Filko wrote: "Human rights
are more accurately defined as those freedoms of action which are
required for the realization of the full potential and continuation of
human life."

What he is describing is not freedom. Similar reasoning is often used
to condemn homosex-uality. In fact, if we could successfully prohibit
heterosexual intercourse, we could reduce the spread of HIV (and,
thus, AIDS-related deaths) significantly.

As people's views on religion and spirituality vary significantly, so
do our goals and aspirations in life. What one person regards as "the
full potential" of humanity might be agreed upon by everyone. For some
people, the freedom to peacefully consume a marijuana cigarette seems
as basic as the freedom to engage in consensual sexual relations.

Kirk Nechamkin
Forest Hills, N.Y.