Will Somebody Please Think of the Children

Why the prohibition on marijuana must end -- now

As a child of the new generation sweeping across the land, born within the knowledge-filled bounty of the Internet at my fingertips, and as a human who watches with abject horror the overcrowding of prisons and state bans on harmless and beneficial plants, I say this: we must end this archaic prohibition on marijuana. We must end it on November 2.

Proposition 19, affectionately called the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Act, would, in a nutshell, allow for the recreational use, cultivation, and sales of marijuana, with restrictions. It could end, in California at least, a 75-year prohibition on a plant that contains a plethora of professionally documented medicinal effects, is not physically addictive, is not lethal, is enjoyed by an estimated 15 million Americans, and is packing our prisons with non-violent stoners.

Never before has an issue proposed on a ballot caused such a strong rift with me at least, requiring a constant examination, and then re-examination, of the facts and possible effects behind this law. At first, I viewed Prop. 19 with a suspicious eye and initially criticized the provisions that would criminalize use around minors and about allowing municipalities the ability to restrict recreational sales. It made me think of Prop. 215 and how, after 14 years, officials and governments are still baffled about how to reconcile the right of a patient to grow with the rights of a community.

Add into this the unique experience of living within the coveted Emerald Triangle, the region where most of the state’s, if not the country’s, marijuana is cultivated, feeding a rural economy here devastated by the decline in the timber industry with much needed economic sustenance. The quandary of what kind of impact bringing this black-gray market to light will have on this region has certainly been a cause of concern for any person with at least a minimal amount of perspective here. It is not an exaggeration to say that virtually every industry in Humboldt County – groceries, hardware, fuel, agricultural supplies, clothing and entertainment to highlight a few – is invigorated to some degree by marijuana money and could suffer from a collapse in prices.

This perspective is not widely acknowledged by Californians, and people captiously deride opponents in the North as voracious growers who want to keep a stranglehold on the lucrative black market at any cost. While this might be true for some, please understand there is more to legalization than that for us Northerners.

As if this issue wasn’t hippy enough, what ultimately convinced me that Prop. 19 needs to pass was a short, yet vivid, dream the other night that highlighted two main reasons. The first was simple enough – cannabis is medicine. It does not have “roots in Hell” as the propaganda of past days had tried to push on us; it is rooted in health, and if you ask any user how effective it is at relieving stress and anxiety, how they have been able to quell other addictions with its use, or how it helps alleviate the adverse effects of modern treatments; e.g., chemotherapy, they will tell you, without hesitation, that marijuana is a blessing, not a curse.

The second reason is more existential: our children should not grow up and live in a world where this medicine is outlawed, where state power is wasted incarcerating small-time users and damning them to share bunk space with violent criminals, where our law enforcement apparatus expends precious time targeting this harmless crop and its harvesters over the scourge of meth and other truly social ails, and where people still live in the zeitgeist of the “Reefer Madness” world, where stoned zombies murder and rape in drug-induced frenzies. Wake up.

What has always made marijuana “violent” has been its illegal status, plain and simple. If you meet the growers just trying to make a living or who are providing for their personal consumption, you do not see the mafias, the cartels, the individuals and institutions violently battling to control this plant for its profitability; you see mothers, fathers, teachers, musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs. And that last point will be the boom for our local and state economy; just imagine all the innovations that will come from marijuana finally being legal.

Prop. 19 isn’t perfect, but the time has come for this prohibition to end. We must remember the specter of the short-lived prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s, which was also perpetuated by zealous interests in the government who sought to impose their moral perspective on the rest of the county, and the ultimate consequence of that fueled the vicious and violent black market of that time.

The times are truly changing. Perhaps it’s time to change with them, if not for yourself, for your children.

John is a freelance journalist who currently resides inside the great Redwood Curtain of California. He is an avid political reporter, runs a blog called "The Reporta" and believes marijuana could be the economic boom for our generation; that is, if Prop. 19 passes and all. He can be reached at: contact@thereporta.com. Read other articles by John C..

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  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on November 5th, 2010 at 3:21am #

    John, dope prohibition is all about social control. The banning of things and the criminalising of those with opposite opinions,is designed to divide society against itself. The inevitable, anticipated and intended increase in crime, petty when it involves theft to pay for artificially expensive stuff, and horrendously gross when whole countries, like Colombia and Mexico are violently destabilised by the immense profits to be made from the illegal business, is deliberately contrived, to increase ‘social tension’. Divide and rule- it’s as old a tactic in pursuit of dominance and control as any other.
    Dope, of course, is not harmless. Nothing is. Oxygen produces free radicals, and CO2 feeds plants but suffocates when bubbling out of lakes, or drives climate disruption. But marijuana’s harms, in those susceptible, can only be minimised by medical and social intervention. Unfortunately the evil psychopaths who control the planet wish for the harms to grow and fester, so that they can falsely promise that their totalitarian approach, which has the 100% failure rate we see with so much Rightist policy, will protect the public from dope fiends. We seem, surely, to be a species that cannot learn from experience, where moronic assertion and threats of retribution have replaced rational discourse and principled reflection. Fear and loathing and the stoking of ignorant paranoia win every day.