The case for marijuana decriminalization

Kurt Melville
Guest Writer

It’s been dark for hours as you anxiously wait for your text message tone to sound. Checking every thirty seconds doesn’t help either, but it’s a habit at this point.

Your phone lights up and you scramble across the room in desperation, only to realize that it’s your mom, making plans for next weekend. A half-hearted response is issued – you’ve got other things on your mind.

You return to the passage of time that is video games, homework or whatever. Suddenly your phone is alive again, this time with the news you’ve been waiting for: “All good bro, come thru.”

“Cash money,” you think to yourself, expecting everything to go as planned, now that the always daunting step of actually getting a hold of your drug dealer has finished. So you get into your car and head over to their place and – wait! Is that a cop behind me? No, it can’t be. Or can it? Ahh, whatever he turned.

Now that your heart is in your throat and your blood pressure is spiking, it’s the perfect time to find a dimly lit address in a residential neighborhood. Throw down a sketchy parking job and you’re in, right? Not even close.

The marijuana you just bought puts a huge target on your back from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. This is the result of a Nixon-era crackdown on drugs. Due to regulations in the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), marijuana was put in a category with some of the harshest restrictions.

According to the CSA, to be considered a schedule one drug, the substance is considered to have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States, and raise a serious question about how safe the compound is for medical use.

Yet somehow marijuana doesn’t fit into this category at all. Twenty states, including Michigan and the District of Columbia, have passed measures that allow medical marijuana to be prescribed to patients who seek alternatives to medicines like narcotic painkillers, which have much more serious abuse issues than marijuana.

In his CNN documentary Sanjay Gupta, showed the great healing potential for marijuana as medicine, with one particular child suffering from hundreds of seizures a week, to being able to get down to two or three a week. For people worried about medication safety and overdosing, I have but one piece of advice: hide the cookies.

But seriously, most people realize that it’s really just political. It’s very similar to the way in which the government tries to regulate morality with respect to marriage equality. Although I believe equal rights for all Americans are a LOT more important than getting high, I still think no government body has the right to interfere with a personal choice like this. If the government wants to ensure the safety of using marijuana, I would suggest following the example set by a number of states: get your hands sticky and regulate it instead of banning it altogether.

Decriminalization is an important intermediary step towards legalization too, and its creep throughout the country is starting to build speed. Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint are a handful of Michigan communities that have passed decriminalization measures, which basically result in a ticket for marijuana possession. The police are putting less people in jail too, costing the taxpayers less every year.

As these efforts start to sway popular opinion it will be important to put pressure on our elected officials. Don’t let them forget who will be paying taxes for the next 50 years.

If in the future marijuana becomes legalized, non-smokers will have no need to worry. There are restrictions already in place regarding the usage of the highly legalized drug alcohol and marijuana would be no different. Plus, it’s not like somebody is going to force you to smoke their weed. Stuff’s expensive, man.