Legalize pot: vote yes on Prop. 19

Harrison Leonard

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Courtesy of Arturo Ponciarelli/FLICKR

On Feb. 11, 2010, a police SWAT team raided the home of Missouri resident Jonathon Whitworth. Narcotics investigators received a search warrant to scour Whitworth’s home after being informed that the Columbia resident stood in possession of large quantities of top-grade marijuana.

Descending upon the Whitworth residence in the middle of the night, the SWAT officers charged through the front door, tackling Whitworth to the ground and aiming assault weapons at his wife and 7-year old son.

They shot Jonathon’s dogs, a pit bull and a corgi, in front of the child. The pit bull died on site.

All the authorities could ultimately find was one bong, and they arrested Whitworth on charges of child endangerment and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bastards.

Shooting family pets is common practice during drug raids. What made Whitworth’s incident unique is that the Columbia Police Department filmed (and eventually released) footage of his home being invaded.

The video, available on YouTube, provoked outrage among marijuana legalization advocates and many average Americans over the brutal display of force exhibited by the police.

These kinds of drug busts occur hundreds of times every day in America. Land of the free, indeed.

I have never smoked marijuana, and have no desire to do so. Many of the people I know who smoke weed are lazy, irresponsible, apathetic dolts.

Pot smokers appear to contribute virtually nothing of importance to society. I wouldn’t recommend that people waste their time doing it.

I am also capable of recognizing that, in a free society, people should be allowed to do things that I don’t personally approve of.

There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. would be a safer, freer place if marijuana were legal. In Proposition 19, Californians have been presented with an opportunity to rectify governmental insanity.

The war on drugs has proven itself to be an utter failure in nearly every respect. It costs American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars each year for the U.S. to wage war against personal vice. Yet for all the investment of money and energy, the Office of National Drug Control Policy conceded recently that drug use in America over the last few decades remains relatively unchanged, and is actually on the rise.

American history proves that prohibition doesn’t work. Alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s not only failed to stop people from drinking alcohol, but it can be directly blamed for the rise of Al Capone and the creation of the New York mob wars that continue to plague the Empire State to this day.

It is both historically provable and rationally supported that prohibition is the cause of violent black markets. Alcohol is legal and regulated in the U.S. and you don’t see anyone fighting for beer and smuggling wine coolers across borders except high school students.

Like booze during the 1920s, however, drug prohibition today allows drug cartels to remain vibrant and wealthy.

Statistics indicate that legalizing marijuana (and even harder drugs) will not lead to an increase in usage.

A recent University of New Hampshire study suggests that the ratio of people who try drugs to the people who become addicted has not changed significantly since the war on drugs was first declared in 1971.

In Portugal, where drugs are legal, drug use is less than what it is in the U.S. In Holland, where drugs are legal, teen drug use is half of what it is in the U.S. Even then, some of these statistics are inflated due to the number of Americans who vacation in the aforementioned countries precisely because it is legal to use drugs there.

A common argument against legalizing pot is: “I don’t want to drive on the same road with someone who is high on weed.”

Well, smoking marijuana is currently illegal under California and U.S. law and that hasn’t stopped millions of people from driving high thus far. You have just as much chance being in a car accident with a pot smoker now as you would if it were legal.

Everyone I have talked to agree that it is safer and easier to drive high than drunk. But legalizing marijuana still won’t change the overriding principles of our justice system. It will always be illegal to get high, get behind the wheel of a car and run someone over.

Minors will never be allowed to go into a store and buy marijuana. Besides, most drugs make people sloppy and lazy.

Drug Enforcement Administration studies repeatedly acknowledge that most drug-related crimes occur because people are trying to gain access to drugs, not because people are committing violent crimes while high on drugs.

In my mind, this entire debate should really boil down to the question of “who owns your body?”

If the answer is you (and I happen to think it is), then the State has no right to tell you what you can or cannot put inside of it. That holds true for marijuana and the same goes for harder drugs as far as I’m concerned.

Proposition 19 isn’t my perfect idea of good drug law; if we own our bodies, it isn’t the job of the government to tax the things we consume with the intention of discouraging use. But, Proposition 19 is a step in the right direction and far better than the draconian laws that are currently on the books.

When Nov. 2 rolls around, vote yes on proposition 19.