Decisions, Decisions

by Ned Wicker

In the months and years ahead, I suspect many states will follow Colorado’s lead and make marijuana legal. Strictly from an economic standpoint, if state governments can tax marijuana the same way they tax cigarettes and liquor, it stands to reason that millions in new revenue are to be found.

Just look at the funds the tobacco industry have generated through tax upon tax, to the point where cigarettes are very, very expensive. Likewise beer, wine and liquor each carry their own taxes and I am sure state treasurers lick their chops just thinking about the money marijuana will bring them.

Prohibition didn't work

Prohibition in the 1920’s was a miserable failure, as it took a popular product off the legal market, and created an underworld that produced the likes of Al Capone. The south has always had its moonshiners, but that’s nothing compared to the millions the gangs made off illegal liquor sales.

Speakeasies, 3.2 beer and a whole new culture came into being as ordinary citizens clamored to get their liquor and avoid the feds in the process. Police raids on underground establishments were sometimes a public embarrassment, especially when city officials were in the place enjoying a cocktail when the raid hit. But mostly, the push-back was from regular people who just thought the law was stupid and unfair.

Pot is different from alcohol

The modern day marijuana question is different. It has never, until recently, been legal. They didn’t take a legal product, found anywhere, and suddenly declare it illegal. Marijuana, in some circles, is considered a dangerous drug, a gateway drug, an addictive drug.

People give alcohol a pass, mainly because it’s socially acceptable, but marijuana doesn’t enjoy that same pass, although if you ask most people on the street they’d probably say “why not” when queried about pot. They may not use it themselves, but their likely to say they think it’s not so bad.

It started with “medical marijuana”

The door was opened by “medical” marijuana, that industry that exists so people can smoke marijuana because it’s “medicine.” Of course anytime a human being opens the door, even a tiny bit, excess is bound to follow. People cannot and will never leave well enough alone, so “medical” marijuana has given way to recreational marijuana.

Soon, as states legalize this drug, “medical” marijuana will be forgotten. What was once illegal will become a right. Some people will quickly come to the understanding that legalization of marijuana, albeit a social inevitability, is nonetheless a very bad idea. Just because something is legal does not make it a good idea.

War on tobacco a distant memory

A few years ago the war on the tobacco industry brought countless millions in law suit settlements to states, but let’s get real, most of that money was gobbled up by opportunistic law firms. The family of someone who died of lung cancer didn’t benefit, but the lawyers got wealthy.

The tobacco industry deserved what they got because they were so painfully stupid in their attitude on the issue of lung cancer, as one tobacco executive after another told congress “I do not believe tobacco causes lung cancer,” each doing a word-parsing dance orchestrated masterfully by their legal counsel’s bringing the charges and the lawyers defending the industry all made millions upon millions.

The cow is certainly out of the barn!

Now that the proverbial cow is out of the barn, where is the marijuana issue going? This writer believes that all states will eventually legalize it, mainly because the public pressure to do so will grow. This is a country of excess. This is a country that stretches the moral, ethical and legal limits of everything.

This is a country ruled entirely by money and those who have the most will certainly stand to gain by a whole new generation of addicts that will be created. Tobacco was too easy a target. Those who benefit by public outrage have left alcohol alone and marijuana will benefit from the same type of thinking. It’s what people want, so how can we benefit? At the root of this issue, or any other issue, is somebody getting paid.

Youth does not always listen

Some have tried to teach our youth about the perils of drinking and driving, but it still happens and people die everyday because somebody got drunk and drove their car. There are still alcoholics who die everyday from any number of medical ailments brought on by their habitual alcohol excesses.

I watched a man die, slowly over a period of weeks, even after multiple medical interventions to save his life. He literally drank himself to death. There has been so much research, so much documentation, so much evidence to suggest that drinking too much alcohol is a terrible idea, but it still happens.

The evidence for marijuana is there as well, but we choose to ignore it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, and so many other agencies and institutions have told the marijuana story, but now we enter into a new chapter. In selective places it’s now legal.

Anyone against marijuana will be shouted down

Those who warn against using marijuana will be shouted down by those who do not want to know why. The Bible says that the day will come when right will be considered wrong and wrong will be considered right. The ethics, morals and values of America are rapidly changing.

We have turned away from traditional ways and have entered a new phase. Technology changes and culture changes, but people will always be the same. It is no different now than it was four thousand years ago. Human nature is the only constant and human nature will test every rule, ignore every warning and our own pride and arrogance will inform our decision making.

Marijuana and the legal issue surrounding it’s adoption into mainstream consumerism may be a contemporary issue, but the forces that drive it are old. It’s just another boundary that has been breached.

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- Matthew 7:7-8

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