Why Decriminalize Marijuana?
A Letter to the Editor
by Chris Hibbard & Curtis Goodman
(Originally written as a contest entry for the University of Lethbridge Meliorist student paper, answering the question: Do You Think Marijuana Should be Decriminalized?; this opinion piece has since been revised/reworked to be a Letter to the Editor for the Lethbridge Herald newspaper (June 2010), in response to a recent letter that has inspired my wrath.)
Why decriminalize marijuana?
One letter published last Friday has inspired my wrath. Not since the
1950’s have I heard such ‘reefer-madness’ style rhetoric, implying that
marijuana is ‘the devil’s weed’, leading to violence and mental illness.
To that letter writer, and to all readers of the Herald – consider the
Marijuana has been growing naturally in our world since time began. It has
been used for millenia by different cultures for different reasons. While
I do not condone the legalization of marijuana, I certainly do condone it
being viewed as a valuable part of our natural world. For reasons related
to economics, spirituality, psychology, agriculture, medicine, justice and
entertainment, it’s about time that it be removed from the ‘hard drug’
list, disassociated clearly from the likes of cocaine, methamphetamines
Economically, pot should be our golden cash crop. In B.C. alone, seven
billion dollars worth of marijuana are exported or consumed each year.
Fifty percent of Holland’s agricultural export income comes from
marijuana, to the tune of 2.2 billion dollars annually. Our Alberta
climate would allow for similar production value, not to mention the huge
revenue that could be made by simply taxing each ounce of marijuana sold
legally over a counter, as they do currently with alcohol and tobacco.
Spiritually, marijuana takes your mind off stress, alleviates anger and
makes us more tolerant and peaceful. Since stress, anger and war are
constants in our modern society, this doesn’t seem so bad.
Psychologically, marijuana is far removed from the Reefer Madness
portrayal of the 50’s onward. Marijuana users just don’t seem to be
inclined to fight, or even to offend. In fact, in stimulating feelings of
health and happiness marijuana can lead to hope and optimism. We’ve all
heard about the power of positive thinking.
Agriculturally, marijuana grows quickly and can be grown, harvested, and
sold in as little as eight weeks. Plus, the cannabis plant’s male
counterpart is hemp – a strong fibre substance that can be used to make
everything from clothing and rope to paper, pasta, and the walls of your
house. The oil from hemp seeds is already widely used for cosmetic
products. Currently there are 27 varieties of hemp cultivated throughout
Medicinally, marijuana has been proven to have no devastating long-term
effects on the human body, especially if consumed without being smoked. It
has been proven however, to alleviate the symptoms of AIDS, MS, Anorexia,
Glaucoma, Obesity, Osteoporosis, Alzheimers, Eczema and many more. It
costs far less than prescription medication to purchase and to
manufacture, and has far fewer side effects than its pharmaceutical
Judicially speaking, according to STATSCAN, since 1969 over 893,000 people
have been charged with cannabis possession in Canada. That’s 893,000 times that the police could have focused on violent offenders and hard-drug
sales and 893,000 times that courtroom judges could have sent serious
criminal offenders to prison more efficiently. By legalizing marijuana our
criminal justice and legal systems will run smoother. Meanwhile, in the
U.S. in 2007 alone there were over 872,000 arrests related to marijuana.
This 2007 figure nearly matches our statistic that covers the last 30
Lest we forget marijuana’s entertainment benefit. Stupid sitcoms become
funnier. Bad CDs become tolerable. Snack foods taste richer. Snowboarding
and even throwing a Frisbee become more challenging. Pets seem to become
more human, lights seem brighter, conversations can become more
intellectual or philosophical, and our damned Lethbridge wind actually
starts to sound cool and may inspire kite-flying.
For these reasons and many more, I believe that marijuana should be
legalized or at the very least, decriminalized for personal use. Let’s
help each other help ourselves.