October 19, 2010


I have a confession to make - I have never smoked pot.

See, I'm something of a control freak about certain things, one of which is being in control of my body and mind at all times to whatever degree possible (and it's not always doable). This is the same thing - along with a history of alcoholism in the family combined with depression and resulting meds - that stopped me from drinking between the ages of 21 and 34. I'm pretty sure this attitude kept me from doing some fun stuff and some good old American experimenting but I don't really regret my control freakyness.

Keeping all that in mind, my stance on the legalization of pot is kind of surprising. I'm all for it.

The legalization debate has been sparked most recently by a movement to legalize marijuana in California (of course). The arguments for and against are neither conclusive nor new. For every opinion, there is a counter. For every study there is an equal and opposite study. Yet despite my lack of first hand experience, I'm not convinced that pot is any more dangerous or destructive than booze or alcohol. And if drugs with similar strengths and consequences are legal (I'm looking at you Marlboro and Bud Light) I'm not altogether sure why we should deal with pot any differently.

Now we do all pay (literally) for the use and abuse of these so-called luxury items, namely alcohol and tobacco. So we should tax the hell out of them and allow states to recover the cost of their use. And pot should be no different.

Where do you come down in the legalization debate? And should individuals who consume goods that contribute to poor health be taxed for doing so?

Posted by Chris at October 19, 2010 7:33 AM

I don't think it's any worse than alcohol or tobacco either. But it won't ever be legal because the government can't control it. That sounds all conspiracy theory but I think it's true. The average person can't mass produce alcohol or cigarettes, but any person with acreage can grow and sell pot. There is no way the government could tax it or control it any way. Or also control it's safety. I think it's just too late.

Posted by: donna at October 19, 2010 8:59 AM

I'm all for legalization and subsequent hefty taxation. However, if you tax something to the point of taking it out of the reach of many people, you are just asking for a thriving black market to develop, which to my way of thinking is essentially the same sort of industry that appears when something is illegal. I'm living in a state (NY) where a pack of cigarettes now costs $10! That's just asking for trouble, in my opinion. And it makes me glad that I quit when they were less than $5/pack (and that was only a year and a half ago!).

Posted by: Elizabeth at October 19, 2010 9:02 AM

I couldn't agree more!! My thoughts are just the same. I, too, have never smoked--- not pot, not even cigarettes, but I have seen first hand the destructiveness of it (lung cancer, lung diseases) and think it should be taxed as much as possible.. maybe then kids would think twice before starting, and maybe, maybe, we could recoup some of the costs of long term care for these folks when they die from these diseases.

I do have an alcoholic drink now and again, and am still for the big tax on the "luxury" of it.

Posted by: 3jaysmom at October 19, 2010 9:03 AM

I have never smoked pot (or done any other illegal substance for that matter - I was always kind of a goody-goody. It never interested me and I was never curious, so...).


i think it should be legalized. And then I think they should tax the hell out of it.

The arguments I've seen as to how the taxing of marijuana can generate quite a bit of revenue, well... what could it hurt.

And then our jails wouldn't be so full of people who were caught with pot. It would let people focus on bigger problems, imo.

Posted by: sarah at October 19, 2010 9:17 AM

I am so totally right there with you. I have never smoked pot, and I have never had a drink of alcohol. But I think as a country and a society, we need to look at drug use and abuse primarily as a public health issue, rather than one of crime.

I have two friends who work at a women's prison. The overwhelming majority (let's estimate 90%) of the women in there are there directly or indirectly because of drugs. The rate of recidivism is sky-high because the resources for addressing their drug problem just aren't there. They're in prison and they're clean, and they swear that they're going to stay that way for their children. They get out of prison. They go home. And all of the sudden they're back with the same people, who were using in the first place. Then they're using again, and they cycle begins itself again.

I have no problem taxing pot, alcohol, and cigarettes. Put a significant tax on those items, and then use the money to pay for research and programs that effectively treat drug abuse. Right now, as a society, we're doing it wrong.

Posted by: Melody at October 19, 2010 9:24 AM

It goes way beyond pot as a taxable recreational drug. Cannibus has all sorts of potential as a cancer drug, pain reliever, etc. However, Federal law makes it very hard for researchers to do research to explore if there are useful purposes for the drug. It's as though the government doesn't want to know about the potential of a low cost source of life saving chemicals.

And don't even get me started on industrial help. There are no mind altering properties at all to hemp, yet it was made illegal in the 30s at the requests of the polyester manufacturers that saw the low cost, disease resistant natural fiber as a threat to their petroleum based products.

Posted by: COD at October 19, 2010 9:50 AM

The people I know that smoke pot are WAY more mellow and less likely to cause problems/car accidents/other horrible things than the people I know that drink.

Pot is pretty harmless. I'm all for legalizing it, and I don't even smoke it (though I'd be lying if I said I never have.. I accidentally wound up in Amsterdam on my birthday this year).

Amsterdam is doing it right. They don't have the same drug problems as us. They don't have the same any-problems as us, actually. Lower drinking age, legal pot use, and legal prostitution.. takes half the "thrill" away if it's legal.

Posted by: Katie at October 19, 2010 10:01 AM

Same here, never tried it, never smoked anything, ever. Grew up with a family of heavy smokers (cigarettes) and could not wait to escape the cigarette smoke smell that permeated our house. I can not stand to be around anyone smoking anything. It kills me.

That being said, I do support the legalization of Marijuana. Legalize it and tax it. As my husband, who is a police officer says, he has NEVER been called to a domestic because of people smoking pot. Now, alcohol on the other hand....

I agree with everything said in the comments above and while it can't be fully controlled, at least it will decriminalize it. Making room in prisons for serious offenders and free up cops to pursue more serious offenders. I have A LOT of friends who smoke pot recreationally all.the.time- it has never compelled them to try harder drugs. They are all part of the music scene and pot is so prevalent.

Also- that loss of control thing, yeah, I feel ya. Me too. htats why I never have more than 3 or 4 beers on a given night. Usually 1-2 is fine.

Posted by: Lisa at October 19, 2010 10:02 AM

It really is no different than alcohol. And I agree with you. We spend more money penalizing people for it in the legal system than anything else.

Posted by: k8 at October 19, 2010 10:44 AM

Never smoked pot here or experimented with any drugs. Feel alcohol abuse and hard drugs is a problem in our country, but not pot. Pot has been an issue lately in Colorado as we have medical pot stores and the government has been going after them. Going after stores selling pot to cancer patients and people suffering seems like a waste to me.

Pot and even prostitution should be legal and regulated. If you look at Europe across the board, they don't have all these major issues with alcohol, crime, and drugs that we have. Things are regulated and seem simple. Minus, major alcohol abuse in England.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at October 19, 2010 10:46 AM

Okay, once again, I'm a bad one to ask because my view is biased. The man who ran the stop light and drive OVER my car and KILLED my daughter was stoned on POT. So, do I think it should be legalized and available at the local 7-11. NO! Use for cancer treatment side effects, yes. But highly regulated.

Posted by: Maribeth at October 19, 2010 10:55 AM

We all know how well prohibition worked.

Just think. If we had the revenue from pot and didn't have the expense of jailing the offenders, we might be able to build schools and shrink the jails. We have the largest women's prison in the country 15 miles down the road from me. The vast majority are there on drug charges. Insane.

I was never into drugs - was scared of them for the same reasons you were. Smoked a little pot at social gatherings way back when. It was boring and gave me a headache.

I don't think Prop 19 will pass in this crazy political climate but I'm voting for it.

Posted by: Ann Adams at October 19, 2010 10:56 AM

I'm with you. Never smoked up. Tax the living hell out of it and legalize.

Posted by: alektra at October 19, 2010 11:57 AM

I've never smoked pot, either. I've also never tried any other drugs, never smoked (or tried to smoke) a cigarette, nor ever been drunk. I'm a control freak as well, and the idea of not being in control freaks me out. Plus, alcohol tastes nasty. There are also alcoholics in my family and I think I could have a pretty addictive personality if I allowed it, but I don't.

Like you, I'm all for legalizing pot. I don't know anyone who smokes it, but I think we should quit throwing good money after bad trying to suppress potheadedness and just let them be. And tax the sales, yo. Maybe we can make a dent in our crappy budget deficit her in Cali.

Posted by: Brooke at October 19, 2010 12:07 PM

I smoked pot as a teenager, and decided it was not fun - for me, anyway. However I know a lot of people smoking pot, causing them to waste money and grey cells as well.
In case pot is legalized, and heavily taxed, therefore very expensive, how will the government be able to prevent people from growing it in their backyard, or even attic (yes, with powerful UV lamps)? I don't know what to think about this.

Posted by: viviane at October 19, 2010 12:18 PM

I'll be voting for it.

Posted by: LaineyDid at October 19, 2010 12:23 PM

Never tried it...but there are worse things in this world to worry about than legalizing marijuana. Looking at research it seems to be better for people than cigarette smoke...and although there are dangers, as you mentioned alcohol and cigarettes are legal and there are dangers to them also. However, heavy taxing may lead to people growing it themselves...same with heavy regulation on how much you can have at any given time. Government control is not always the best answer; but some control is needed.

Posted by: Krush at October 19, 2010 12:30 PM

To understand how we got here, we have to look at how it first came to be illegal. Back around the 20's this was totally a non-issue; people grew it in window boxes routinely. Some whack job religious group got it into their head that it was the sum total of evil, and created a film called "Reefer Madness", and marketed it all across the country as a "warning to parents and politicians" as the growing menace. If you've never seen the film, basically little good Tommy and Susie are destroyed by one puff, and turn alternately to lives of crime and prostitution and murder, culminating in a trip to the insane asylum. Panic and hysteria ensued, and sweeping legislation was put into place to "quell the menace". And then as we march forward through time, we find that there is quite a bit of money to be made in arresting, trying, and incarcerating folks for something that, while not necessarily the best thing for you, is far less overall damaging on your body than say a healthy alcoholism or pack a day habit.

I've always believed that to end the drug wars, we need to legalize and regulate them all. If you take the risk factor out of manufacture and procurement, the price plummets; put the distribution points right in a rehab clinic, so if you are going to get your fix, and you want off this merry go round, you can go right into rehab. As it is now, we force people into increasingly further and further places away from the mainstream, making it difficult for them to even admit a habit, much less seek treatment for it. And nothing takes the cool factor away from something than heading over to the local rehab clinic to get the "good stuff", so I think it would help meet the message that "this is bad for you" without the cool factor of "you're being bad, oooh".

In fairness to those who came before us, media was a much more powerful force back then. Remember we're talking about one generation removed from a people who would flee the theater at the approach of an image of the train on screen. Their media "bs" filters were barely being formed; we've gotten pretty jaded ( although we still get hoodwinked on a pretty regular basis, but only after decades of research into human psychology and billions spent on fine tuning advertising / memetics ).

Posted by: metawizard at October 19, 2010 12:54 PM

Same boat. Never tried it. Don't know why it should be illegal when alcohol isn't.

Posted by: Jess at October 19, 2010 1:31 PM

I have such a different opinion on this. First and foremost I personally can't stand the smell of pot. It makes me sick when I smell it. I can only imagine what the air would be like in public if pot were legal. It gives me a migrane! And I can't stand the smell of regular cigarette smoke either but that's another issue.

Years ago I had a friend who smoked daily. If I wasn't home when she did it I surely know she had by looking in her eyes. It really affected her and I didn't think it was for the better. I stupidly once let her drive to the mall not yet realizing she had smoked. What a drive! Never again. It was like driving while drunk. We don't let our friends drive drunk but don't think twice about it when stoned? Seems like a double standard.

While I would like to see it heavily taxed, we don't have a system in place to regulate it. Where would it be sold? Walmart? We are still fighting placement of medical use dispenseries in our cities here all the time. The city I live in recently shut one down specifically due to citizen complaints.

I'm sure if it were legal the drug dealers could sign up as small business owners. But how many really would? Oh, and can you see them estimating their tax haul and sending in their check to the state?

I do think there may be merit in the real medical use marijuana. But I also know that it can be put into pill form and still work. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/MindMoodNews/marijuana-alternative-treatment-children-ocd-autism/story?id=11227283

Not sure what the answer is...

Posted by: bea at October 19, 2010 2:46 PM

I'm open to the possibility of legal, regulated marijuana. One of the main reasons it bothers me that my friend unashamedly smokes pot with some (alarming, to me) frequency is simply that it is illegal. "It's cheaper than drinking", she says. But it concerns me, because the growing and drying and marketing isn't regulated and a) you don't know what else might be in there, that you're smoking/baking/diffusing/whatever, and b) as it stands right now, drug sales, including that of "harmless" marijuana, support organized crime, prostitution, child trafficking and other harmful and illegal activities. And, since she's looking into doing something in the legal system as her career, if she gets busted with too much on her, she's totally screwed. I don't understand taking that much risk for so little benefit. She says it clears her mind and allows her to think about things in a different way. I think she should take up meditation instead :P
Another person I know uses it for medical reasons, because of severe pain (and pain-induced nausea) due to endometriosis, and while she can get it legally in pill form from the pharmacy, prefers to use a dealer and a bong for faster delivery and lower cost of use, and that frustrates me too for the same reason. Using it as medication? Not a problem for me. But supporting the crime industry? Definitely a problem.

Posted by: Heather at October 19, 2010 5:31 PM

I actually am completely with you.

I've never done it. Not a fan of not being in control. I don't really drink much either. Way too much substance abuse in my family.

However? I think if they legalized it and taxed the shit out of it, it would save us billions. Also? Then we could let all the pot dealers out of prison and keep the child molesters there forever.

Posted by: Issa at October 19, 2010 5:37 PM

legalize it, yes. sin tax it, yes. do i like it myself? never have. i hate the feeling of smoke going into my lungs! it's so wrong!

Posted by: kati at October 20, 2010 12:00 AM

I've never smoked pot either. I've never smoked a cigarette.

Posted by: cassie-b at October 20, 2010 12:36 PM

I could take this post, change the word "California" to "Canada" and post it on my blog and it would be exactly the same story (well, minus the family history)...

Tax 'em all!

Posted by: Urban Daddy at October 20, 2010 10:34 PM

Legalize it already so that the cops can concentrate on other bigger problems.

The people I know who smoke pot are successful, professional, family people. The picture that the media has painted of pot smokers is not always accurate. I think that alcohol is way worse. I too come from an alcoholic family and have seen so much destruction and violence from that than I have from pot. My father has always smoked, so it's never been a big deal to me.

Posted by: Nila at October 21, 2010 7:35 AM

And the people who drive badly, run red lights and such must have more than just pot in their system. Pot by itself usually does not have that effect on people.

Posted by: Nila at October 21, 2010 7:39 AM