Being a heavy and casual marijuana user for almost 10 years, and knowing many others who also are/were, I think I have a pretty good understanding of its effects, both positive and negative. I'd like to dispel some myths.
First off, you always hear that marijuana is a gateway drug. I respond: being a teenager is a gateway drug. The emotions, the hormones, the internal and external influences pulling you in a thousand directions every second of your life...it's a wonder most of us make it through. That alone is enough to make most people want to try just about every drug out there. Also, another reason marijuana is a gateway drug is because kids are always taught how terrible it is and how addictive it is. So what's the next thing they do? They try it. After finding that they were lied to and mislead, they learn to mistrust those telling them that "all drugs are bad." So now heroin or cocaine doesn't seem so bad either, even though they have much more far-reaching effects than marijuana. The point is, the only real cause of marijuana being a "gateway drug" is the fact that kids are constantly being told lies about it. The fix? Honesty.
Secondly, marijuana in moderation has no permanent effects. You can smoke till yer stupid for a few months, but take a week off and you bounce back completely. Its tar is more harmful than that of tobacco, but who aside from the most extreme users smokes a cigarette-pack's worth of joints every day? The only way to get cancer from marijuana is to pump the smoke into a ventilator and breath it in 24/7. With cutting-edge advances in technology, there are now vaporizers, which remove the tar from smoking. It's safer than ever.
Thirdly, smoking marijuana is a personal choice. Here we are, in the "land of the free," restricted from doing things that even if they do have some negative effect, only affect us personally. It's not illegal to saw off my arm. It's not illegal to use a pogo stick next to the grand canyon. Why can't I take a puff on a joint? Who am I harming?
Now to my main point. We're in an economic crisis. We're spending a lot of money on battling imports of drugs (including marijuana), and also spending a lot of money keeping potheads in prison (thanks, prison lobby). That's two very large drains on our economy to
- Fund a losing battle. I can go anywhere in almost any town in the US and within an hour, even not knowing anyone, get an eighth of weed. Good job drug war, money well spent. It's good to know that the taxes I just filed will go to "stopping" me from buying marijuana.
- Keep pot offenders in prison. Yeah, these people are really dangerous. They are on the edge of the law...sitting on the couch eating chips and giggling. The more money I can spend to keep them locked up, the better. Oh sure, most of them are dealers, but our culture is founded on the principals of capitalism: if a market exists, fill the void and capitalize. Makes sense to me. Nobody would sell pot if nobody wanted to smoke it. Yes it's illegal, but once again let's ask ourselves why instead of pointing to a law.
Now imagine a world where the government grew, cultivated, sold & taxed pot. That's a lot of money we'd make back. Hell even if they raised the price on it, it'd be worth it to just be able to walk into a store and buy it. They could use the revenue from pot to plug the holes caused by battling all the other drugs.
Maybe it's time to really start thinking about this. If you are against legalization of marijuana, ask yourself why. Anyone who wants to smoke it already does. Show me a person who wants to smoke pot but doesn't because it's illegal, and I'll show you the portal that takes you out of Neverland and back to reality.
Conservative America: you want a smaller government with less services and less control on the population in general. Why not start with drug reform?
With a name like "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act," you know there is an ulterior motive. We already have the right to vote, right? In fact, we do. So what is Prop 16, really?
Prop 16 is designed such that before a city or state entity buys a section of power grid and resells that power to its residents, it must hold an election and get a 2/3 majority vote. While it may seem nice to have the voters decide on whether or not a government entity should be spending their money, it actually doesn't make sense. The reason is the expenses involved in NOT allowing the entities to do this.
Think of it this way. A government agency spends some of your tax dollars buying up sections of the power grid. Money lost, right? Not necessarily. After they own that part of the grid, they start charging you for the power they give you. Great, so they spend your money to charge you money...but wait, there's more. Because the government entity is essentially a business at this point which provides a service and charges for that service, it's making money back. On top of this, the residents now have a choice of who they get their power from. This is known as "competition" and is the leading force against monopolization in any industry. If a market segment is profitable, doesn't it make sense for the government to capitalize on that market segment?
Now let's look from another angle. You are a taxpayer (I'm assuming) and you want to make the final decision about whether or not a section of power grid is bought. This is great, but your local government spends a lot (I mean, a LOT) of money without your express permission because we as a city/state/country give our government that power. We elect people to handle this in our stead because we are busy and don't have the time to make every decision collectively. That's how a representative republic works (no, the U.S.A. is not a democracy, sorry!!)
So why bother holding an (expensive) election so the govt. entity can spend more money petitioning and explaining to you why it's good that they actually make money? Especially when they're spending your money on lots of other things, all the time. Holding an election to give a local government entity the right to actually turn your tax dollars into profit (or at least offer you lower prices on energy) seems like a waste of time, no?
So where did this bill come from? If you read the Wikipedia page, it's obvious: PG&E. Now, I have nothing against these guys. They do a great job, and obviously they're just protecting their interests. They do not want the government competing with them, which is why thus far they have donated $6.5 million to the campaign, and have stated they plan to donate up to $35 million total. They obviously have a vested interest in forcing local governments to get 2/3 support in elections (which is very, very hard to do).
By voting "Yes!" on prop 16, you gain absolutely no more rights than you had before, you only make it harder for local and state governments to turn your tax dollars into something useful: cheap power for you. The name "California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act" is a misleading name designed to dupe the voters (that's you!) into voting for higher energy prices and less competition in the energy market.
It's important that our local governments are accountable for the money they spend, but passing highly targeted, specific bills that force them to ask, nay, beg, the voters for approval on everything they spend money on slows (if not stops) progress and makes our government much less useful...after all, we're already electing them and paying them to decide where our money goes. Doesn't voting on every single issue defeat the purpose of appointing representation?
Also, if the residents of a city really do not want the government spending their money on buying areas of power grid, they can get a ballot intiative (which takes a handful of signatures) and vote on it themselves.
We've all heard of proposition 8 in California...the ban on gay marriage. It was a dark, bloody political battle that ended in tears, anger, but also joy and a feeling of sanctity for those that won. Let me say that I do not support prop 8. Not because of the rule itself so much as it being a constitutional amendment, not a law. The very document that lists the rights of the residents of the state of California was amended to tell a specific subset of people that they cannot partake in a religious ceremony that binds them for life.
I don't support state-sanctioned gay marriage. Not in any way shape or form. I don't think the state (political state, not geographic state) has the right to marry two men or two women. Neither does it have the right to marry a straight couple though. Marriage, although deeply ingrained in our society, is a religious ceremony. It's a dance two people do to signify their unending commitment.
The state has absolutely no business supporting this ritual. I believe separation of church and state has been defiled by the state taking it upon itself to say who can marry and who cannot. Is that not up to the specific religion the couple in question are marrying under? What moral right does the state have to support a religious ritual and then only for a specific set of people?
I believe the state has overstepped its bounds. I believe the state, as it already does, should allow civil unions between partners, giving them the applicable tax breaks they would receive as a married couple, but not marry people. Marriage is a religious institution and as such should be completely unrecognized by the state.
Note that this would solve all conflicts surrounding marriage. Two gay men can get married at the devil-worshiping, blood-drinking, child-molesting church down the street, and Mr. Conservative who goes to the bread-eating, jesus-praising, child-molesting church up the street doesn't have to recognize the two gay men's marriage. It didn't happen at his church or under his rules, so in his mind, the marriage can be null and void... but the state gives the two gay men their civil union, and then politely bows out of the conflict, letting the upstanding Christian and the society-destroying gays fight it out between themselves.
Everyone wins, and the state can wash its hands clean of all moral conflict surrounding a religous institution.
With the economy getting increasingly depressed, and the country feeling more anxious and desperate every day, there remains only one thing between our current state and complete chaos.
Donuts. Be they round, square, creme-filled or just little spheres covered in sugar, they hold together the very fabric of our society. Not only is this common knowledge, it has been scientifically proven by many recent studies.
The U.S. government, knowing the importance of donuts, passed a bill today that would help a local shopkeeper in Brownsville, Kentucky stay in business. The bill passed by congress details a $14 trillion bail-out package for the shop in exchange for 2% equity in the company.
"I couldn't be happier," proclaimed Rick Thomson, shop owner, enjoying his new beach house in Hawaii. "I'm finally starting to realize how important the government is. It's good to finally see our tax dollars at work." Rick had been running his shop "The Donut Gutter" for over 5 years before the financial crisis hit. When bankruptcy looked like the only option, he petitioned congress for help.
"Well, we got his letter and immediately made it a first national priority," said Congressman Piotto. "People think small businesses are a dime a dozen, but they are actually more important than big businesses! This is because of the trickle-up theory of economics. Just think how many other local businesses Mr. Thomas will now stimulate. And because the government owns 2% of his company, we made a lot of money! 2% of 14 trillion is $280 billion. It's a win-win." Piotto is also first-advisor to the national treasurer.
Since Rick's business was bailed-out, over 200,000 other companies from around the country are petitioning for congressional aid. A recent study showed a 90% growth in the rate of companies needing a government bail-out. The study failed to conclude the reason for this, but a follow-up study is planned for 2011.
"It's just not fair," said CEO of GM as he stomped his foot and frowned. "Nobody cares about big business anymore. We never got a bail-out, even though we've been selling the same cars for what's probably been hundreds of years!"
One thing is for sure, we owe everything our country stands for to Rick Thomas, a brave man who fought bankruptcy, a hurting economy, and big business all for his right to $14 trillion in tax dollars.