I don’t smoke marijuana. Regardless, I hope President Trump pushes forward with legalization. Laws regulating marijuana should be decided at the state level and by voters, not by Attorney General Jeff Sessions or anyone else in Washington D.C. for that matter. By ending the federal ban, Trump will be acceding to public opinion and supporting the self-determination of states.
First, most scientific research points to marijuana being no more harmful than alcohol. In fact, marijuana may actually be safer. There has never been a recorded death via marijuana overdose. Yet over 2,000 people died per year from 2010-12 from consuming too much alcohol. So far, evidence from states that have legalized marijuana suggests that pot is not a gateway drug as the use of other, “hard” drugs has not risen. Yet alcohol has been found to be a gateway drug. This should come as no surprise; anyone who regularly drinks has either made a bad decision, or seen someone else make a bad decision. Meanwhile, marijuana use may actually be tied to declining use of other drugs.
You might think I’m painting alcohol as some bad bogey man. Ironically, while I don’t toke, I do imbibe, and if the government wanted to take away my microbrewed six pack coffee stout, they’d have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. Regardless, it’s hard to objectively argue that marijuana should be illegal and alcohol should be legal.
Right now, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to this schedule, marijuana has no accepted medical use and is highly addictive. Hogwash! Marijuana’s potential applications in medicine are now irrefutable. Mind you, I’m not guaranteeing that marijuana will cure or address any medical ailments, but there’s enough evidence to assure its potential. Meanwhile, many medical experts agree that marijuana isn’t particularly addictive, though it can be habit-forming.
It’s important to understand that lifting the federal ban on marijuana won’t result in pot being legalized everywhere or, in fact, anywhere. Marijuana will still be outlawed by various state governments. And to varying degrees, pot will be legal only in those states where voters or their elected representatives have chosen to legalize. In other words, power to the people.
Jeff Sessions is fighting a one-man war, and one that will make him look silly in the long run. According to Pew, 61 percent of American voters now support legalizing marijuana, having surged from 31 percent in 2000. Sessions is trying to slow down a freight train picking up steam and if he doesn’t get out of the way, he’s sure to get caught up in the wheels.
President Trump, on the other hand, has a chance to get out from in front of that train. All he needs to do is support state rights. Step out of the way and end the silly federal ban on marijuana. For the Republican Party, a war against pot is a lost cause that will only alienate voters. The best Sessions or anyone can do is stall the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. With so many voters supporting legalization, it’ll only be a matter of time before democracy wins out and the federal ban is repealed.