Blame this blog on one of those on-line polls. “Should marijuana be legalized?”, it asked. People were divided. There was the typical name calling that goes on in such forums. We won’t engage in that and diminish the gravity of the question. There are many facets and possible perspectives to be sure. I want to address a couple as I take my own opportunity to vent!!
Many of the “yes” folks repeated a response that almost came across like a pop culture mantra, “It’s safer than tobacco or alcohol.” That blows my mind—falling in the “if it’s said on the internet, it must be true” category of nonsense. Remembering the TV ad, I begin scanning the room for the French model.
Medical study upon medical study says otherwise. Most say marijuana carcinogenics are 50-70% greater than tobacco. These studies talk about long and short term effects: lung afflictions, memory loss, menstrual interference, impotency and several other effects. Driving impairment happens– even though many users deny it because they are less aware of it than they are with alcohol. Tests prove it.
The next “French model” concoction claims that marijuana is not addictive. Although usage results in a lower percentage rate of addiction than alcohol, it does create significant marijuana addicts. It’s more significant problem has caused it to be labeled a “gateway drug” for years. Like any addictive substance, the body builds tolerance. It takes more to get the same high. When people quit cruising at their desired altitude on weed, they start looking for something else that flies higher—like coke, meth or heroin.
Then there are the two arguments to legalize that many times get woven together. 1. People are going to use it anyway so legalize it and tax it to pay our government bills. 2. Alcohol and tobacco are legal so why not marijuana? Taxes will never pay for the human suffering and broken families our vices create. Making more of them legal has always caused the numbers of those affected to jump. The arithmetic simply fails to cover even the “hard” costs.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse estimated the cost to our US economy for drug, tobacco, and alcohol related issues—including incarceration and lost productivity– to fall at $559B—over a half trillion dollars in 2008. Taxes on booze, cigarettes and drugs would not cover that. On the other hand NIDA’s open letter dated 3/1/07 states:
Research has shown that every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs, there is: a $4 to $7 reduction in the cost of drug-related crimes ,a $3 – $5 reduction in emergent medical care use (ER and Crisis Center). Among women – a $4 reduction in welfare and child welfare costs; among employed men – a $7 increase in productivity (fewer absences and health claims); among returning Iraq veterans – a 35% reduction in family medical claims.
Let’s legalize some other addictive agent that screws up people, costs our nation billions and wrecks families life’s because we did it before with booze and butts. We’ll tax it and cure all our problems. I think not!
How about this novel idea? Let’s figure out how to help people deal with their triggers that are tickling them to use addictive escapes that ruin their lives, aggravate instead of heal their mental problems and cost all of us huge resources in terms of broken families and tax dollars spent to hospitalize and incarcerate them in systems that tend to make them worse on release. It’s the humane and even economical thing to do—whether you are a Christian as I am or not! I openly admit I have a biased perspective but I have the evidence that a relationship with Christ can change a willing life.
It is the personal spiritual issues that drive addictions which compounds to the national spiritual issues that are crippling us. Few hurting people want to keep on hurting! Things will change when we get guts enough as Christians to realize it’s our job—not our government which we know needs to maintain its separation from all religions including Christians. When we wade in and address the challenges, God will use that to heal lives and ultimately heal our nation.