Project 4/20

by Prescott Johanson

A new unsanctioned national holiday celebrated on April 20th(4/20), is sweeping the nation of pot smokers to enjoy their herb and take a look at the causes of marijuana being illegal and the benefits of changing that policy. I myself took the day off work, starting smoking, researching and writing first thing in the morning and continued it until the job was done. So puff puff give but don't fuck up the rotation.

There is evidence that marijuana has been used medically and for pleasure for nearly 5000 years. Our founding fathers, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others, grew hemp as a cash crop and it was very important to the forming of our union. That's right, the most important, smartest, greatest leaders of our nation grew marijuana and probably smoked it. You know why? Because it is proven as a cash crop with many uses ranging from paper, cloth, fuel and medically as an appetite stimulant, eliminating nausea, a pain killer and other medical uses. The other reason is that it is proven that it is non-toxic and cannot hurt you physically. How did it become illegal then? Well first off because the leaders of our nation since the 1930's have been idiots with no common sense when it comes to this issue and are slaves to the alcohol/tobacco lobby. Okay, that may be a little strong, we have had many great leaders since then, but this is a hot button issue that politicians are afraid to touch. It all stems from the mid 30's propaganda machine that focused on crazy immigrants smoking pot, causing them to go rape and murder. Public service shorts shown before movies showed that you, your kids or your neighbor could fall prey to this violence and inanity if you smoke this "evil" illicit drug. Huh? Okay that was then and this is now, we all know that the last thing you want to do high on marijuana is hurt someone. I know from experience. Now a few shots of whiskey and I want to punch the first person that comes into view, then go kick my dog. Ahh, so is the American hypocrisy.

The constitution and our basic system of law is based on the principle of giving every citizen a voice and to protect our people against any harm or destruction and theft of personal property. They are a little more complicated then that, but the point is that marijuana doesn't affect these principals at all, never has and never will. Every year approximately 50,000 people die of alcohol poisoning with another 400,000 deaths per year attributed to tobacco abuse, two legal money making "drugs". That's right folks all those deaths from legal substances. You want to know how many people died of a marijuana overdose? None. Last ten years? None. Ever. None. Kinda smacks you right in the face doesn't it. The European Medical Journal The Lancet once wrote "The smoking of cannabis, even long-term is not harmful to health...It would be reasonable to judge cannabis as less of a threat...than alcohol or tobacco. In the United States, since the 1970's, more then a dozen government appointed commissions came to similar conclusions and also that prohibition causes more social damage then use and that possession for personal use should not be criminal. This is all true, look it up, politicians simple won't listen because of the stigma attached to it. It is a hot button issue that people in elected office do not want to touch for fear of not getting reelected. If the facts are out there though it's a non issue, most of the people would agree with legalization. More bowls, and wow, I can still write and think, and have motor skills, that's not what people would have you know. It started in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act, which proposed getting a licence for being able to grow and possess. The problem is that you couldn't get a licence without possessing and it was illegal to possess. No licence were ever given and many arrests were made. Is it getting any clearer to you out there, are you starting to see the injustices that surround these laws? These are the times when the videos such as "Reefer Madness" that made up things that never happen on marijuana, PCP maybe, but not marijuana. It is as nonviolent as "drugs" come, there is no physical addiction and it is non-toxic, but still illegal. A recent commercial that came out the past couple years showed parents talking to their freshly pregnant teenage daughter. The gist of the commercial is that it was caused be her smoking marijuana, the propaganda continues.

Another myth I'd like to debunk is that marijuana is illegal because it is a "gateway" drug leading to abusing other hard drugs like crack or heroine. Ha Ha, are they serious, I've never bought this nor should you. Lets take the average crack head, teeth rotting out, stealing his mother's TV, simply wasting away. Has he/she ever smoked marijuana? Probably. I'll go ahead and guarantee as well that he/she has gotten drunk off alcohol, smoked cigarettes, drank 5 mountain dew's to stay up as a kid on a Sat night, sniffed glue, huffed gas and any number of other things. The fact is that everything is a "gateway" to everything else, and just because someone likes caffeine before they like heroine doesn't mean we should vilify the caffeine, but that is exactly what our government does with marijuana. We should simply take each substance on it's own merit and not arbitrarily make something illegal because it may lead to worse things. Let's look at it a different way. I smoke pot often, in fact, as we speak, but the last thing I want to do is smoke crack or do heroine or any other form of "junk". If I did, marijuana certainly wouldn't be the cause. Put another way, many polls have come up with the fact that about 70 million people in the U.S. have tried marijuana. We have a population in this country of nearly 300 million, but taking out kids and older people around when the morals were different leaves us with a substantial amout, possibly half, of our population that has smoked pot. How many of those do you think tried crack or heroine? I would venture to guess not very many at all. Sure the crack head/heroine fiend has tried marijuana, but there's 20 times as many at least that have tried marijuana and not moved on to harder stuff. This is a myth so shut the fuck up about it, marijuana isn't a gateway drug any more then coffee, so let this one go. What these above numbers also show is that a substantial number of the productive professional people who run this country, including presidents like George W. And Bill Clinton, have tried marijuana. It still is illegal though.

Here's where it gets interesting, the economics of legalization. First, federal and state governments spend about 15-18 billion dollars on drug enforcement programs. Cannabis arrests count for nearly 30% of all drug arrests nationwide. Legalization would save the government between 6-9 billion per year. Not only that but it would in all likely hood divert demand away from more dangerous drugs resulting in even more savings. Might help a little with that social security problem huh. By making marijuana legal it would also make it a taxable product generating more income to run this country. It is very inexpensive to grow, with all of the cost being because of the black market markup. This would end and be replaced with an excise tax and a sales tax, with the marijuana still being substantially cheaper then you can now get it for. The Excise tax, like that charged on cigarettes can be called a "harmfulness tax" and would be charged on a per joint or per gram basis, with the sales tax at normal levels of 5-8%. At current usage levels this would result in revenue at 3-8 billion dollars per year. These are of course ruff numbers, you can do the math yourself, but the underlying principal is clear, that marijuana is a resource that we are not taking advantage of that could help with a lot of the problems we have.

Another revenue generator lies in the agricultural benefit of Hemp, a fiber gotten from the marijuana plants. Popular Mechanics magazine wrote that the hemp plant has the potential to be manufactured into more then 25,000 environmentally friendly products including textiles, paper, paint, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, animal feed, food, and much more. Use the issue of our trade gap; we import over 2.5 million pounds of hemp fiber, seed and oil per year but we don't allow our citizens to grow it themselves? Wake up people!! We have to do something about this hypocrisy. Hemp has a higher yield per acre then cotton, requires few pesticides, has a growing cycle of only 100 days and leaves the soil nearly weed free and ready for the next cycle. If made legal the hemp industry would rival other leading crops like soy beans and cotton as a nearly 10 billion a year industry adding to our gross national product. Small theory of my own, because marijuana grows almost anywhere. Introduce it to war torn countries in order to stimulate their economy and provide jobs and resources to their people. An example would be Afghanistan, where you could tear down the poppy fields that are used to make cocaine and heroine and plant weed in it's place so as not to hurt the farmers. It's got some work but I think I'm on to something here. The following table is a summary of the economic impact of legalization on a per year basis. Excise Tax: 2.0-6 billion dollars Sales Tax: .5-2 billion dollars Enforcement Savings: 6-9 billion dollars Hemp Industry: 6-10 billion dollars As you can see the economic impact of marijuana legalization is in the range of 12-20 billion dollars per year. That is not including spinoff industries such as coffee houses and paraphanelia , reduction of demand for harder drugs and nonviolent people who would be locked up for marijuana related crimes will be out there working and spending, generating even more revenues.

Medical marijuana is an issue I just want to touch on briefly as it is not the focus of this article. Nearly 70% of our population believes that it should be legal for medicinal purposes with some states like California passing laws making it legal. They are still at the wim of the federal government who simple won't get off their hands on this one. Marijuana can be used to treat glaucoma, pain, spacticity, movement disorders and also to treat nausea and lack of appetite, especially in cancer and aids patients. There is written references to it's healing ability as far back as 5000 years ago. Virtually every government appointed panel to investigate the medical benefits have issued favorable findings, but still the laws stay on the books. The reason I don't want to go into this any further is that the statistics all point toward medical marijuana being a good thing and the vast number of our people want it. Therefore, there's nothing really to argue about, lets just get it done okay. Get off your fucking high horses and get it passed because medical marijuana would be a good start to full legalization

Most of the information in this article comes from personal experience and the research I did on 4-20-05 on the NORML website norml.org, which I strongly suggest you all check out. The facts are all there, marijuana legalization is a good thing that would have a positive affect on our legal system, our medical system and our economy. Oh and did I mention that no-one has ever died from it:? Pretty silly that it's illegal, lets change that. Make a difference, support third party candidates that support marijuana because the big 2 parties may never want to get it done, the cigarette and alcohol lobby may be too strong. We have to continue to grow this independent movement and keep pushing until we all want it, then it has to be done for the people, by the people. As always these columns are just rants, a professional journalist I am not. I'm just one man with a joint in his mouth, a keyboard, and his hand on the pulse of the nation. I.E. if some of the numbers and facts are a little off, they're close and you get the point so quit bitching and write a better one. What it comes down to is this, there are a vast number of benefits to legalizing marijuana and very few negatives. Laughing a lot, playing video games and snacking are about the worst of them. Kinda says it all right there huh. So pass that shit over here, and let's get this done people. Who's gonna be the one to lead? It can't be me, I'm too high, ha ha.

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