The Need To Legalize Pot


Just in, California has become the first state to legalize pot!
Unfortunately, for all you proud owners of a two-foot-bong or a three-inch bowl,
you must have a prescription from a medical doctor before you light up. Perhaps
it's only a crack in the ice, but it is a start to a long-awaited, controversial
issue that needs to be touched upon again.
In the fall of 1996, Proposition 215 was passed in California,
legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Even though the majority (56%) voted
to pass 215, opponents plan to continue to fight the measure. It was also so in
Arizona, where Proposition 200, the Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control
Act, won 65% of the vote. It says that Arizona's doctors can prescribe
marijuana, heroin, and LSD for patients when there is "medicinal value"
(California 62). The passing of these two propositions has also helped the
release of prisoners convicted of drug possession (---). With jail capacity
already overflowing, if you were to lock up a dealer, you therefore create a job
opening.
Bob Randall, president of the Alliance for the Cannabis Therapeutics, a
Washington-based patients' right group, says as many as five-million sick
Americans might benefit from the legal access to marijuana. Marijuana has been
found to: relieve nausea and stimulate appetite in people with cancer and AIDS,
control muscle spasms among people with multiple sclerosis and other
neurological disorder, reduce eye pressure among people with glaucoma, and some
say it also controls seizures, eases chronic pain, and relieves depression. Dr.
Ernest Rosenbaum, a San Francisco cancer specialist, says he and many doctors
quietly recommend marijuana to patients who didn't respond to other medications.
A 1991 Harvard study found that about 40 % of cancer specialists surveyed had
recommended marijuana to relieve chemotherapy nausea, and about 48% said they
would prescribe the drug if it were made legal.
An article was written in the October, 28, 1996 Time issue about a
former police commissioner, Jo Daly, who was diagnosed with colon cancer. Jo
started chemotherapy for her cancer, but the side effects included "nuclear
implosion." Then came a burning pain under the nails of her toes and fingers.
The good news was that she eventually found relief. The bad news was that it
came from marijuana. Daly tried Marinol, a substitute the FDA approved as a
synthetic version of THC (marijuana's psychoactive ingredient), without success
before she ended up turning to pot. Even after the positive results and
outcomes of patients using marijuana, not everyone is in favor of legalizing the
drug. Some people are still uptight about the whole issue of legalizing
marijuana and continue to set aside the benefits of pot. "This proposition is
not about medicine," charges Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates, co-chairman of
Citizens for a Drug-Free California, the campaign opposing Prop. 215. "It's
about the legalization of marijuana" (36).

Well, wake up, America! There are far more benefits from the drug then
just medical. Making the drug legally available, with tight regulatory controls,
would end the black market and with it, much of the violence; legalization would
reduce the number of people in prison, which in turn would reduce the government
budget. For 20 years the authorities in Amsterdam have simply ignored the use
of pot, which is regularly sold in 4,000 coffee shops in amounts up to 30 grams
a customer. Their coffee shops sell an estimated $67,500,000 worth each year
(most of which is Dutch-grown) while the Siberia Cafe sells an estimated $1,000
of hash and marijuana a day. It's all done in the open, with the Dutch
government collecting the taxes on the receipts (Just 114).
It is reckoned that some thirty-million Americans, roughly Canada's
population, have tried marijuana. Of those, about ten-million smoke pot every
month, and unlike our president, most of them inhale. In Glasgow, one-half of
all students between the ages of 14 and 25 admit to smoking pot "every day."
Marijuana has become the US' 'biggest cash crop' despite the death penalty for
growing the plant. The estimated thirty-two billion dollar market has spurred
many gardeners to make a career out of cultivating the plant.
In a Pensacola Florida News Journal, statements from an article titled,
"Marijuana use rising; foes to blame pop culture." were pulled:
- It Beats crack," said David Spencer, a 24-year-old Pensacolian who
smokes two or three joints a week. "Beats drinkin', 'cause you don't want to
get into a fight or you don't get sick. Smoking weed ain't going to kill
you like cigarettes will. Only thing it'll do is make you chill out and
hungry."

- And