Advocacy

They Said It On Marijuana, Quotable Saturday, Part XVI

“We’re the people who love drugs, the people who hate drugs and the people who don’t give a damn about drugs.”  Ethan Nadelmann, on those who support his Drug Policy Alliance.

We are always arguing that if national legalization is to succeed, we will need a big tent of those who favor it. In other words, it is going to take way more people than just die-hard stoners and even way more people than just those who smoke pot. It is going to take involvement and votes for legalization (or for politicians who favor legalization) from those who don’t smoke at all and even from those who oppose anyone smoking marijuana.

Yes, that’s right, getting marijuana legalized is going to take votes from people who think smoking marijuana is wrong or unhealthy and think that it should not be used at all.

Let us explain.

The majority of Americans favor abortion being legal and yet it would seem that the majority of Americans also consider abortion to be immoral, at least according to this report.  We would bet that the same sort of thing holds true for cigarettes: the majority of Americans oppose cigarettes and yet believe cigarettes should be legal. In other words, on these issues, the majority of Americans value the freedom to choose over the need to impose their views on others.

Marijuana should be the same way and our goal has to be to convince those who do not use marijuana and even those who oppose marijuana that society as a whole would be better off if marijuana were legal.

A couple of months ago, on 4-20-2014, we did a post, entitled, Our Arguments For Legalizing Marijuana, in which we set out the following as why we believe marijuana should be made legal:

1. Law enforcement is wasting huge amounts of time and money on marijuana. Wouldn’t you prefer that they use that time and money going after truly violent criminals?

2. Massive amounts of illegal marijuana are sold every day. Wouldn’t you prefer that criminals not profit from that?

3. Massive amounts of illegal marijuana are sold every day. Imagine being able to capture just the sales tax on that?

4. One of the lawyers in our firm (who does no cannabis work) often makes the following argument. If my daughter were caught with marijuana, I  would retain a top marijuana criminal defense lawyer (with whom we frequently work) to defend her. We as parents would make sure that she dressed well and acted contrite, charming and respectful when she goes to court. Both of us parents would attend court with her (dressed nicely of course) and, if allowed, we would inform the court that we viewed the charges against our daughter very seriously and we would endeavor to do whatever we can to make sure that she never comes to court again. Our daughter would be nodding her head in agreement while we speak. Our daughter would no doubt get 30 hours of community service as a sentence. What about an African-American teen who commits the same “crime” and whose parents do not attend court with him and who wears baggy jeans? Do you really believe that kid isn’t at greater risk of something more than 30 hours of community service? Is that fair? Is that the system you want?

Let’s add a new argument to the above: a moral one. Should not each U.S. citizen be able to decide for herself whether she is going to smoke marijuana? Who better to make this decision for each citizen, the citizen herself or a small cabal of politicians?

We know plenty of people, including many politicians, who vehemently oppose the use of marijuana and yet vehemently favor its legalization, oftentimes for the reasons set forth above.

The arguments for legalization our logical, compelling, endless and eventually legalization will prevail. But for us to get there, we will need a tent big enough to include those with a panoply of views on marijuana itself. Our job is not to “convert” people to marijuana but to convince them of the benefits of its legalization. Our job is not to be zealots for pot, but to be advocates for a better marijuana system.