Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Medicinal marijuana users losing battle," Oct. 19, 2000
I was both alarmed and amused at Solda’s reference to the potential for abuse as a reason for our government not to legalize marijuana. It seems blatantly obvious that there are many commonly used legal drugs in our society that not only present the possibility for abuse, but for which addiction is common and even somewhat socially acceptable. Nicotine, which is legally available to the adult public, is an extremely addictive drug whose use seems almost exclusive to those who could be labelled abusers by Solda’s definition; the harmful effects both of the drug itself and the numerous byproducts of its most common form, cigarettes, are at least as dangerous as those associated with marijuana.
Abuse of alchohol, another "government sanctioned" drug, is also common, and its dangerous physical and devastating social effects are well documented and lead to far more deaths and shattered lives than marijuana use or abuse ever has or will. Even the most restricted prescription drugs still present the potential for abuse and are misused by many individuals, and yet to consider prohibiting these drugs because they can be abused would be, to use Solda’s own words, "…just sheer ignorance."
So is the government serving the people well by allowing drugs like nicotine and alchohol to be available to the masses? We are clearly contributing to incidents of addiction by condoning their use, and yet I have heard nothing about prohibiting the "recreational" use of these drugs because some people abuse them. And Solda’s reference to the idea that the government could not benefit economically by legalizing marijuana makes even less sense–taxation of these other legal drugs provides a sizeable income for the feds, and the high demand for marijuana from a large population who would buy the drug legally if given the opportunity would certainly do the same.
Marijuana is a much less dangerous, and for the most part, more responsibly-used drug than others that are legal now, and yet it is still illegal while those which cause more physical, social and psychological harm and which present no possible medicinal benefit whatsoever are available in stores on every block. The many societal benefits of legalizing it are obvious both theoretically and statistically from actions already taken in parts of Europe.
Regardless, Solda’s argument rests on the idea that we would all be subject to marijuana’s evil ways if it became legal; because a few people "abuse" it now, we must keep restricting its use because somehow this may prevent more people from abusing it and will allow society to prevent more individuals from becoming addicted to drugs. Oh, come on. Who’s being naive now?