Legalize Marijuana

February 27, 2017
Our state and federal elected officials should stand up to cultural taboos, big pharmaceutical companies, and the imprisonment of so many nonviolent offenders by legalizing marijuana. This past November, voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada elected to join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C. with recreational marijuana and voters in Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana supported joining sixteen other states with medical marijuana. Twenty-eight states now reflect public opinion by challenging the federal government's prohibition of marijuana, which when lifted will make life more enjoyable, lessen the opioid crisis, and reduce the militarization of our law enforcement.

Whether you take a Sativa for an uplifting cerebral high or an Indica for a relaxing body buzz, marijuana's tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) exact interaction with the cannabinoid receptors that bridge our molecules to our minds is unknown, but the way it enhances our appreciation for art, music, and poetry, alters our state of conscious, and expands our minds by transcending the space time relationship is awesome. Over a million years ago when our African ancestors descended from trees for grasslands, they likely ate psychedelic mushrooms on feral cattle dung which heightened their senses for hunting, expanded the imaginations of their brains that were developing from the nutrients garnered from cooking game, and enticed them to practice the original religion of shamanism. When philosophizing about aesthetics, reality, and metaphysics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all likely indulged in Dionysus' elixirs of laced, un-distilled, super potent honey turned mead and fruit turned wine, yet the more knowledgeable societies became, the less plentiful and more powerful our gods became. The all-powerful single deity of the Abrahamic religions warned Adam and Eve not to touch the tree of knowledge's forbidden fruit as an effort to do away with paganism's devotion to the surrounding natural world's spiritual knowledge because it challenged monotheism's premise that eternal salvation comes from above. While Marco Polo only brought rumors of marijuana back from Asia, Columbus missed an opportunity by only returning with the concept of smoking from the nature revering New World civilizations that we then exploited with government sanctioned feudalism, serfdom, and slavery to make commodities of our newly discovered approved drugs of coffee, cocoa, and sugar.

With the exception of those fortunate enough to live under an Islamic Golden Age Caliphate that pioneered mathematics, science, and healthcare, our life expectancy during the Dark Ages was below 30 due to high infant mortality, accidents, and epidemics until shamanism eventually led to alchemy, chemistry, and modern medicine. The pharmaceutical industries' golden age of antibiotics, vaccines, and other treatments after the Second World War gave way to our current healthcare system of big pharmaceutical companies raking in billions off our false hopes for immortality, trimming science departments when intellectual-property protections began expiring, and investing $19 on advertising for every $1 spent on research and development. Corporations make big money off maintenance prescriptions like Insys Therapeutics' Subsys, a fentanyl spray painkiller for cancer patients, by marketing the addictive drugs to the public at large, incentivizing medical professionals to prescribe the painkillers we seek, and then paying lip service towards the dystopian alternate reality in which we live. In New Hampshire alone more than 800 Subsys prescriptions went to non-cancer patients in 2013 and 2014, years that 203 and 334 opioid overdose deaths occurred, respectively, and in the resulting settlement the state only received $500,000 towards combating the opioid epidemic. By comparison, last year only 2,089 New Hampshire patients qualified to participate in the state's fledgling therapeutic cannabis program to purchase organic, non-toxic, and far healthier medical marijuana to simply be more comfortable when confronting the severe nausea, seizures, or wasting syndrome that accompanies qualifying medical conditions such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, or multiple sclerosis.

Given that financial analysts predict $30 billion in U.S. marijuana product sales by 2021 if all 50 states rejected prohibition, it is no wonder Big Pharma donates heavily to Congress for marijuana to remain a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical treatment under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, instead of passing commonsense legislation like banning marijuana, alcohol, and prescription medication television advertisements similar to the tobacco advertising ban. Law enforcement agencies made 574,641 arrests last year for possession of small quantities intended for personal use, 13 percent more than the 505,681 combined arrests for all murders, rapes, and other violent crimes, wasting law enforcement's precious time with unnecessary arrests, bookings, and evidence placement. Criminal convictions over small amounts of marijuana not only harm society by the loss of employment, federal student aid, and housing assistance opportunities, these criminal records worsen racial disparities with black adults being four times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts that use marijuana far more, resulting in injustices like the death of Jeffrey Pendleton, a homeless 26-year-old African American unable to pay his marijuana possession charge's $100 bail, in Manchester's notorious Valley Street Jail last March. Richard Nixon's, Ronald Reagan's, and now possibly Donald Trump's War on Drugs has resulted in more Americans in jail than any other country, leading to for-profit private prisons incentivizing guilty verdicts, federal forfeiture laws unjustly allowing seized property to self-fund the militarization of law enforcement prior to guilty verdicts, and the destabilization of Mexico with poor farmers being denied a livelihood, legally purchased American guns being used in open warfare, and drug cartels corrupting elected officials, law enforcement, and the judiciary.

Highly functioning members of society ranging from veterans to attorneys to elected officials enjoy marijuana. Unlike other states that legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, legitimate edible labeling concerns can be allayed using the Granite State's existing regulatory structure of New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets becoming the sole point of sale of products derived from marijuana and making available all their products to anyone old enough to serve in the military. God forbid our politicians actually help alleviate our overburdened criminal justice system, stand up to special interests, and allow for an America of sane people living in balance with the earth.