The Top Ten Reasons Texas Should Legalize Cannabis, Y'all
There's a movement going on in other states, and it's a movement we quite like. A movement toward the legalization of cannabis, y'all.
As we're sure you know, Colorado has become the first state in the nation to legalize the recreational use of pot, and the response is overwhelming. On the first day of the legalization, there were anecdotes of pot shops selling out, lines forming around the block, and people all-out celebrating the legalization of weed.
And why wouldn't they? Cannabis legalization is a great thing. Poor ol' pot has had an undeserved rap sheet since the '70s, when an effort toward waging a "war on drugs" began to rear its ugly head. Nixon began to persecute pot, labeling it a "Schedule 1" drug, despite being advised otherwise. The falsities about the dangers of marijuana only snowballed from there, reaching its height during the '80s and '90s drug hysteria.
Well, the whole "lying to the public about weed" to fulfill a political agenda is pretty bogus, if you ask me. And much like Colorado, I feel it's time for Texas to forgive weed for its false sins and accept it for the wonderful plant it is.
Here are the top 10 reasons Texas should legalize cannabis. And no, it doesn't include looking cool to the nerdy kids.
10. The "War On Drugs" in Texas, as well as the rest of the nation, does not work. Full stop. According to the DEA drug seizure statistics, we seized 780,000 pounds of marijuana in 2012. Marijuana accounts for more than 70 percent of major drug seizures in the United States. Weed. Weed is the most seized drug in the country, and it's also the least harmful. We wage this "war" on drugs around the clock, and yet somehow there are still massive quantities of drugs pouring into the United States. We aren't winning. We are not even stemming the tide.
9. Legalization and regulation, not prohibition, is the way to "think of the children." Regulation and legalization does not condone the use of substances by "the children." It actually acts as a deterrent by way of regulation, making it more difficult to obtain by minors. Listen, folks. The shady drug dealer at the end of your street doesn't give a damn about checking ID's or verifying sources or strains. He's selling some dirt weed that has presumably exchanged so many hands, there's no telling what the hell is in it.
It's not unheard of for those street-level dealers to lace shitty, less-potent weed with whatever will get your kid to the next-level high. They don't care about you or your kid's safety. They just want to make a few bucks by any means possible. Do you really want to entrust your kid to the same dude who will deal your kid a couple of rocks if he asks nicely?
At least if it's regulated and sold by licensed, educated vendors to folks of a proper age, there's less of a chance for it to fall into the hands of "the children." And at the end of the day, your dumbass teenager may still manage to get his hands on it if it's legal (because let's face it; they're all dumbasses at that age), he won't be ingesting angel dust along with his THC. Bottom line is, those dumbass teenagers are pretty resourceful, whether it's legal or not. Might as well make sure it won't kill 'em.
8. It is a waste of law enforcement manpower, especially in a state that borders Mexico, to focus on the "crime" of possessing marijuana. Each marijuana arrest costs taxpayers around $10,000. That does not take into account the manpower it takes to process the arrest, which often involves not one, but several officers and countless hours processing and prosecuting these crimes.
There are more important things to focus on, like the fact that in Texas in 2011, there were 70,000 pot-related arrests, 98 percent of which were for possession of the ganja. And during the same time period as those cannabis arrests, 90 percent of burglaries -- including freakin' home invasions -- and 88 percent of motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. Certainly seems like we could use some solid detective work elsewhere, no? Like perhaps on those crimes against other people?
7. Prohibition hands over the sale and distribution of cannabis to unregulated sources, including the violent drug cartels from Mexico, a country that happens to be our next-door neighbor. Mexican cartels are credited with tens of thousands of drug-related murders in the past decade, and these dudes are the ones supplying the majority of marijuana in Texas. Geographically, Texas is not only logically going to be a major hub for the cannabis from Mexico, it's also a route to all of the other states.
People that are spending money on cannabis are not going to stop doing so, no matter what the penalties are. Prohibition does not work. So given the fact that prohibition will never end the sale and distribution of cannabis, why are we handing the distribution, and therefore the funds, over to violent criminal gangs? It only furthers the violence when a practice is driven underground. Legalize it, regulate it, and tax it, and you'll remove a whole lot of the strength from the guys in organized crime by way of a reduction in demand.
6. Texas, and the United States as a whole, regularly diverts funds from social welfare programs in order to enforce prohibition. Apparently prohibition > social welfare programs and/or starving kids. Texas is home to 1 in 11 children in the United States. There has been a 47 percent increase in poverty in the homes of these children from 2000 to 2011, unemployment and underemployment are huge issues, and yet billions of dollars are being diverted from programs aimed at poverty in order to enforce prohibition. How is it justifiable to literally take food from the mouths of the children in Texas in order to keep people from smoking a freaking plant?
It seems counterproductive to claim that prohibition is for the good of the state, and we're enforcing it because "think of the children," when there are literally kids that have to walk up to their schools in the summer in order to be fed for lunch by the special programs in place for kids living in poverty. Is anyone thinking of the children who, I don't know, don't have food in their bellies? Probably not. They're all too busy sniffing out pot plants to notice.
5. Texas' education system is a hot mess. Our roads are crumbling. Funding is slashed every time we turn around. We could use those tax dollars. Pretty self-explanatory. Let's be real here. Our education system is a disaster. Slashing 4 billion dollars from public schools in our state was a horrible idea to begin with, Slick Rick, and now that the 22 kid per classroom limit has been raised, the overcrowding just adds to how utterly useless our classrooms, and schools, have become.
The injection of tax dollars, or even a "rainy day" fund similar to the ones in place for oil and gas, could sure do a whole hell of a lot to oh, I don't know, pay teachers enough to ensure we hire and keep the best ones. That huge injection of tax revenue that Colorado is about to benefit from could certainly do quite a bit to dig Texas out of that whole "cutting 5 to 6 percent of the community college funding" thing, too.
If we're really "thinking of the children" here, cutting funds for their educations is a complete contradiction to that mindset. We need to fix the issue as soon as possible. It comes down to weighing the ramifications of weed legalization for adults versus classrooms that are incapacitated by a lack of seats and funding, and it doesn't seem like a terribly difficult equation. Unless you've been educated by our public school system, of course.
4. Most Texans want to move forward with legalization. So the advocacy group, Marijuana Policy Project, conducted a poll of Texans in regards to issues of legalization, and the results were released in October 2013. Guess what? 58 percent of Texans support outright legalization and regulation. Right on, Texas. I knew most of us were "friendly Texans" for a stoned reason.
Yep, our conservative little state believes not only in the right to choose medical marijuana as a treatment, but in the right to partake in recreational pot use as well. So if your state wants it passed -- a state that is traditionally super conservative, don't you think it's wise to listen to the constituents? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
3. Economic stimulus does not come via "packages" or pleas for out-of-state businesses to move to Texas; it comes by way of small businesses and job creation. Why, oh why are we panhandling in radio ads in other states, begging the businesses to move to Texas, where we'll ignore your indiscretions and tax you less, when we could simply be creating jobs and allowing small businesses to grow by massive proportions with the passage of pot legalizations? Folks will be needed to grow it, regulate it, and sell it. Money goes into banks, giving them the ability to provide small business loans, which create more jobs, and so forth, so on.
It certainly seems like a surefire plan to stimulate the economy. Mailing out stimulus checks that people use for their bills or offering big businesses from out of state some sort of strange immunity for relocation to the Lone Star state isn't quite the same as actually injecting the economy with alternative methods for self-sufficiency. Teach a man to fish (or grow pot), man. It's the only way.
2. The most dangerous thing about marijuana is the fact that it's illegal. When Dr Sanjay Gupta rescinds his marijuana chastising and apologizes for his "role in misleading the public," perhaps it's time to take note. You've been had, folks. Reefer Madness it is not. Check out Dr Gupta's quote on the entire situation when it comes to pot misnomers.
Most frightening to me is that someone dies in the United States every 19 minutes from a prescription drug overdose, mostly accidental. Every 19 minutes. It is a horrifying statistic. As much as I searched, I could not find a documented case of death from marijuana overdose.
See that, folks? And Dr Gupta knows all.
Here's the deal with weed. Marijuana is not a gateway drug. It literally does not lead users into harder drugs. That's one of the biggest misnomers out there. Long term marijuana use, even by smoking, has not been showed to increase a risk in cancer, unlike cigarettes, which it is often (unfairly) categorized with. And to top it all off, it is the safest substance of any of the legal or illegal drugs that you can use. Legit.
Cannabis has been proven to ease seizures in children, and those with neurologic muscle conditions that cause spastic movements. Marijuana relieves chemotherapy side effects in cancer patients, and nausea is super hard to treat when it comes to chemotherapy.
There is research on using marijuana to treat a number of other conditions, all with fewer side effects than those listed on the drugs pumped out by Pfizer, but we can't freaking commence with that research in the states until it's legalized. We're forcing research overseas, stagnating quite a bit of what could be discovered -- and presumably removing research jobs from the United States -- because we're conditioned to believe marijuana will lead you or your teenager to a life of meth addiction.
1. People suffering from medical issues should not have to risk jail time to obtain treatment. Another full stop. There's just zero reason for pot to be illegal, medical or otherwise. Criminalizing marijuana isn't just pushing the practice underground for your resident friendly stoners, it's also pushing it underground for medical patients. Putting patients in the position of having to obtain marijuana by illegal methods in punitive in so many ways, and really, they shouldn't be facing jail time for possession of pot in order to alleviate symptoms.
I'm going to relay a personal anecdote on this one, because I feel it's important to look at it from the human side of things. I grew up with a friend whose family is very traditional and conservative; they're die-hard Republicans that encroach on the Tea Party mentality. She's a bit less hardcore than her parents were as an adult, but is still conservative nonetheless. They never would have been pro-pot.
But things happen, diseases pop up, and her Gran was diagnosed with throat cancer. She ultimately succumbed to the disease, and one of the hardest parts of the treatment was how much pain she went through during her final weeks. Nothing would ease it, and she was starving to death while experiencing some excruciating pain. They watched helplessly, wishing there was a way to either help or end the suffering.
The friend's husband was finally sent to go obtain some reefer out of desperation, and good ol' Gran finally had some relief. Luckily they were able to obtain it relatively easy, but most adults wouldn't have a clue who to go to. Well, that shouldn't be the case. If someone's suffering, there should be options outside of a pill bottle. Options that work, for the love.
The bottom line is, to deny people the right to choose a treatment that has been proven to ease their suffering is to deny them their basic rights as a patient and a person. Folks shouldn't be pushed to the point of obtaining marijuana by illegal methods in order to keep Gran comfortable. Nothing about blocking legalization, medical or otherwise, seems the humane thing to do.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.