Monday, April 20, 2009

Naturally, on 4/20.

It seems overdone to post about the legalization of marijuana on 4/20. So I’m going to take this one step further and post about the legalization of all drugs.

I haven’t really cared one way or the other about the legalization of marijuana. It has always seemed to me that it should be legal, but I wasn’t one to argue for it because I just didn’t care. It was easy enough for me to get it whenever I wanted (which was never very often), and I was never in danger of “getting caught.”

Lately, however, I have been learning more about the business of marijuana. I heard somewhere that marijuana is a twelve billion dollar industry in California alone. Twelve billion dollars. BILLION. Twelve billion dollars that never gets taxed, that never sees the light of day. That just seems counter-intuitive at its best, stupid at its worst.

While a lot of people, especially in California, would argue for the legalization of marijuana, I wonder how many people would argue for the legalization of all drugs. That’s right – all of them. Heroin, crack, cocaine, meth, whatever. I never thought I would be on board with this, but I’m starting to feel like the anti-drug campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s were less than truthful with me and the rest of my generation about what the dangers of these drugs were. I tried to do some research on the internet about the true dangers of each of these drugs, but it’s all scary propaganda.

Look, I know drugs are bad. I know that. I know meth destroys the part of your brain that allows you to feel. I hate drugs. They are ruining my sister’s life, and thereby doing a number on my life and the life of my family. But I also know that I’m terrified to go to Mexico right now. I also know that all of these drugs are cut with stuff that are in some cases more dangerous than the drug itself. And to be blunt, drug dealers are making a hell of a lot more money than teachers, and that’s not okay by me.

It is all of these things and many more that have made me start to think, why not legalize everything? At least then, government will force regulations on the drugs. Users will know exactly what they are putting into their bloodstream when they snort, shoot, etc. Furthermore, it would seem reasonable that regulated, legal drugs would be safer in general, because they would be REGULATED. And maybe then drug use would be treated more like alcohol abuse or tobacco abuse – as an addiction, and one that you can’t always kick on your own. We would clear out prisons, redirect portions of the police force, and tax an industry that thrives while the rest of the country is suffering. I’m not saying gangs would be eradicated, but the whole landscape of organized crime would change. The Mafia was at its strongest during prohibition. Whoever controlled the liquor controlled the city. Most importantly, we would be able to be honest with future generations about the dangers of these drugs, instead of just scaring them into not using, because the scare tactics? NOT WORKING.

There are many very intelligent people – doctors and scientists – who say that a lot of these drugs are not as dangerous as we are made to believe. Let’s take my sister’s drug of choice: heroin. A normal dosage of heroin will most likely not kill you. Is it bad for you? Of course. Does it put holes in your brain? Boy, does it ever. Will one dose get you addicted? Hells yeah. But it probably won’t kill you. What is MORE dangerous than the actual heroin is the life you lead as a heroin addict. First up – malnutrition. You’re not that hungry when you’re high, so you lose A LOT of weight in an unsafe way, and your body gets little to no nutrients. Because you’re not eating, you will probably get constipated. We all know how fun that is. Secondly, the no-brainer – dirty needles. This is by far the dumbest things heroin addicts do: share needles. This is a surefire way to contract something horrific and die. Third – injecting ANYTHING repeatedly, even if it’s saline, will lead to collapsed veins. Fourth – even the most experienced drug users will overdose, because they are always chasing that first high, which they will OF COURSE never get. Too much of anything will kill you. And lastly, heroin addiction is so powerful, addicts will stop at nothing to score their next high (I’ll leave it to your imagination), and we all know when your inhibition is lowered, you are in much greater danger in general.

I have no idea if legalizing heroin and other drugs would change any of this, or change the manner in which users get high. But I feel confident that it’s a topic worth a lot of discussion, because at this point, in my family and in this country, we suck at this war on drugs thing. I also know that what we are doing now is not working.

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