Legalize It, Then Criticize It…

marijuana leafNew York State may soon embrace medical marijuana. We’d be better off if the government legalized it outright. Why talk half-steps when other states have already made cannabis legal?

It was Tommy Chong who put it to New York via social media, saying that we were behind the high times. New York used to be the place that this kind of progress was launched, Chong mourned, now we’re catching up with Colorado and Washington.

Tommy Chong is right. Marijuana should be legal in all 50 states. It’s ludicrous that people are in jail for growing it or smoking it or having a big wad of it rolled into a cigar leaf or in a brownie or anal suppository or however else people are getting it into their bodies today. Legalize it.

The people have spoken. In times that it’s been put to a vote, voters support legalization of marijuana. Whether it’s medical marijuana, which is more widespread, or the outright legalization that we’ve seen recently in Washington and Colorado. But beyond that, even in places that still enforce draconian laws against the weed, marijuana use is very high (pun intended).

We are not far from the prohibition of marijuana being as antiquated and ridiculous as the prohibition against alcohol that started almost 100 years ago. That prohibition is rightfully considered a joke today, and our grandchildren will look down their noses at the outlawing of marijuana in the 20th Century. Rightly so.

So let us join our voices to the millions that already call for legalizing electric lettuce in New York. Let the City lead the way and hopefully the state will follow. Let the fifty states tax and regulate cannabis like they do tobacco and alcohol. The government can’t stop people from smoking it, so it might as well make a few bucks to help keep the roads paved.

But where there is support for legalization, let’s also support some healthy distrust of the marijuana industry. Wanting to legalize it shouldn’t stop us from criticizing it. Marijuana does not belong on a list of outlawed substances (if any do is another matter), but that doesn’t mean it belongs in our bodies.

There is a lot of awareness and opposition to genetically modified foods and the potential dangers they pose to people’s health. There’s a greater demand now for natural and organic foods made free from the use of dangerous chemicals or genetic manipulation. Yet none of this scrutiny is being applied to marijuana cultivation.

If you’re not willing to eat a plant that was grown with a genetically modified seed, then don’t smoke something that’s named for a Star Trek character. I’ll do what I can to avoid food made possible by Monsanto, but I’m also not going to smoke something named “Vulcan Mind Meld No. 6.” Do we really need to be a lazier, slower-witted country that eats even more junk food at two o’clock in the morning?

Let’s definitely legalize the chronic, but let’s also approach it with the same skepticism as we would any other element of big agribusiness. And that’s what marijuana is: big business. No one is selling weed out the kindness of their heart. Tobacco and alcohol companies are rightly treated with suspicion. The people hawking ganja are no more saintly.

Medical marijuana is great, but the overwhelming majority of people using weed are using it to get high for its own sake. They have every right to do that. But unless you have a serious medical condition, marijuana isn’t good for you. I want to live in a world where people are not persecuted for smoking a plant. But I also know that the world does not need more pot heads.

Let’s increase the sanity of the conversation. Marijuana legalization is the right thing to do. But let us embrace legalization of marijuana without having to embrace marijuana itself.

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