Legalize marijuana | Inquirer Opinion
Like It Is

Legalize marijuana

/ 04:25 AM October 31, 2022

I’m going to talk about something very topical this week: marijuana. The predicament of Juanito Jose Remulla III, son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, brings to the fore what I’ve long considered to be erroneous thinking: criminalizing the use of marijuana makes little sense. (See my column “It’s not only a weed,” 11/02/17).

Indeed, marijuana is a hallucinogenic drug that can be addictive, but it is nowhere near the scale of the other drugs. Mankind has been addicted to hallucinogenic drugs since time immemorial. You’ll never stop their use. So better to criminalize the really dangerous ones, and offer a milder alternative legally—marijuana. People under the influence of marijuana don’t go on a killing rampage or sink into a vegetative state. They just become absurdly happy. What’s wrong with that?

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It’s silly to try and ban something people want if it’s something that doesn’t kill them. Look at the huge harm prohibition did in America. Crime went off the charts, and gang-related killings were off the scale. People still drank, it didn’t stop them, it just sent them underground. When it was once again legal, the crime gangs faded away, people drank without fear and, in the huge main, with little negative impact on society.

I contend that marijuana is in the same court. A product that gives you a high, with little effect on others. Marijuana addicts don’t kill others (there are no recorded cases of it in the world). Admittedly, a few may suffer acute psychosis, but it’s few, and it affects no one else. Some may occasionally get a bit violent, I suppose, but no more than other misfits who beat up others.

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What banning marijuana does is it encourages vicious crime syndicates that kill, which brings criminality into the societal center. Legalize — and control — the use of marijuana and crime disappears. Jails get emptied of people who shouldn’t be there. The key word here is “control.” Just like with alcohol and smoking, control how it can be used, and by whom. Legalizing erects a wall of peace and reliability that protects people from the violence and greed of criminal drug lords.

More and more countries are coming to that realization. Canada was the first to legalize it for medical use in 2001. Uruguay was the first to also allow for recreational use nine years ago. Since then, it has led to a large decrease in overall drug trafficking there and has removed many from illegal consumption of other drugs.

Canada legalized recreational use in 2018. Germany is just about to. Thailand is doing it now. And many states in the US are coming to this realization, too. Interestingly, it’s mostly states ruled by the Democrat party that are in the lead. Surely that tells you more than anything that legalization makes sense (anyone who believes in Trump can’t be in their right mind).

US President Joe Biden understood. He said, “It makes no sense” to criminalize the use of marijuana. As of May 2022, 37 states allow the use of medical cannabis products, while 19 states allow the use of nonmedical cannabis products for personal consumption.

Let’s just take America. Last year, some 42,915 people died from motor car accidents, 480,000 from smoking, 107,622 from drug overdose. Of those drug overdose deaths, none were from marijuana. Marijuana does not kill. Smoking does yet we allow smoking, though strictly controlled. But we ban marijuana. Marijuana should be treated the same as cigarettes: controlled, not banned. President Marcos Jr. should follow Biden’s lead, pardon those who were just users, not traders. Although I’d pardon the traders, too.

Morphine and fentanyl are banned opioids, but are permitted for medicinal use because of the great relief they give to people’s pain. Cannabis oil is known to be effective for seizure disorder and chronic pain. It can also be used to help improve sleep and reduce anxiety and stress. There is no reason whatsoever that I can see for banning cannabis oil.

But don’t just allow medicinal use, let people get a kick out of hallucinogenic marijuana, why not. We can consume alcohol for the buzz it gives—but don’t allow you to drive, or operate dangerous machines. We allow you to smoke yourself to death with control of its sale—but ban a less harmful substance.

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Over the past 20 years, a total of 56 countries have allowed the use of marijuana—48 countries for medical use, and eight countries for both medical and recreational purposes. Uruguay-based cannabis cultivation company Fotmer Life Sciences forecasts that 80 countries could legalize medical marijuana in the near future, with an expected market value of $100 billion over the next decade. Resulting in tax revenues for a government much in need of such an increase, jobs get created. Farmers have something new to do. The trend to reality is there.

Let’s empty our hugely overcrowded jails. Legalize marijuana.

Email: [email protected]

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