First of all, tobacco and alcohol abuse is a much greater problem in our society — both in terms of cost and numbers of abusers — than the abuse of marijuana. However, this is not a valid argument for legalization. Adding one more dangerous drug to our store shelves needs to be evaluated on its own merits or liabilities.
We tried banning alcohol during Prohibition, and that did not work. Banning tobacco products would get nowhere in Congress due to the tobacco lobby, the taxes from tobacco at all levels of government and tobacco's popularity (unfortunately).
We are continuing to ban marijuana on the federal level, which has filled our prisons (minorities much more than white people). Our federal ban has created many Al Capones who are making millions pushing "pot" (or "weed"), and they do not reside just in Mexico.
The argument thus far would seem to favor decriminalization of marijuana. In, fact I am in favor of this.
I am also in favor of allowing people to grow small amounts of pot for their own personal use (what a "small amount" would be, and whether a grower could sell "small amounts" to friends and family without penalty, would need to be decided upon by society). However, I not in favor of legalization on a commercial basis.
Ironically, politicians in many states (e.g., Colorado, Washington) relish the thought of piles of tax revenue filling the state coffers. "Sin" taxes are popular with politicians.
And don't think corporations aren't licking their chops about getting into the game.
So, legalization is largely a money game. Simply decriminalizing pot and leaving it alone would "deprive" state — and eventually federal coffers — of tons of money, along with the potential fat coffers at corporations that would jump on this bandwagon and push the use of marijuana for profit.
I freely admit smoking pot during my college days in the 1960s. I did not really like it. It made me hungry and interfered with my bridge game. Moreover, smoking "grass" made me sullen and withdrawn. In fact, one way to end meaningful conversations at a party is to pass around "joints."
My last column was on depersonalization. If you want to continue this malady and make it worse, just legalize marijuana!
On the other hand, the use of wine, for example, unlike marijuana has down through the centuries contributed to fellowship and community. Just consider Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana, or his use of wine at the Last Supper to solidify and launch his movement. Many churches center their worship upon the Eucharist, where wine is shared along with bread.
I will close with a bit of psychology. People use drugs to give themselves feelings (a "high") which are not structured into their personality structures. This is why drugs can lead to addictions. Repetition is needed to get "that same old feeling."
Smoking marijuana has one purpose and one only — to get high. That is what makes this drug so dangerous, along with other drugs, including alcohol, for many people. Do we want to add one more vice to our legalized vices, one which may lead to the use of stronger drugs?
I predict marijuana will be legalized (not just decriminalized) because money rules our society and tempts our political leaders, if it does not control them.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana. Politicians will in time turn that societal support, however misguided, into tax revenue — instead of making the hard decisions which would raise revenue in an honorable way.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist