I’ve admitted to doing a lot of really bad things in my life. I’ve admitted to being an alcoholic. I’ve admitted to being addicted to pills at one point. I’ve even admitted to taking performance enhancing substances in the past. I’ve done so, not to glorify these things, but to educate those who might stumble into similar issues as those that led me down those paths.
But the admission in the title of this article really wasn’t easy for me because I am still currently using marijuana as recommended to me by a practicing doctor under California Medical Marijuana Law.
Why isn’t it easy for me to admit?
Well for one, despite my history with substance abuse, not many people would consider me to be your typical marijuana user. I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and while many would give me a pass on drinking too much and developing an addiction to prescription drugs, marijuana is consistently associated with hippy culture. Additionally, I am a political conservative, and while there’s plenty of us who drink and even some conservative icons like Rush Limbaugh who fell to opiate addictions, many would consider my stance on marijuana to put me in league with Bernie Sanders.
Granted, my reasons for using marijuana have nothing to do with wanting to expand my mind or even with getting high. It’s honestly one of the few medications I’ve found that actually helps me when I’m in the middle of an ulcerative colitis flare up. It helps to reduce the nausea and pain that I feel during these times, and it helps to reduce the levels of inflammation that rack my body. I use it regularly, but I am not addicted to it like I was to alcohol or opiates and I have no overwhelming urge to use it when I’m not in pain.
People throughout states where marijuana has been legalized for medical use have found relief in this plant. It has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for numerous diseases, and is being explored as a potential treatment for those who suffer with post traumatic stress.
But this isn’t an argument for legalization for medical use amongst the states. This is an argument for why marijuana should be legalized for recreational use and why I believe that the Republican party should lead the charge on this issue.
In defending their stance on keeping marijuana illegal, many say things like “I don’t want marijuana to end up in the hands of children” and “I don’t want a marijuana store popping up around the corner from my child’s school.”
Growing up in Connecticut during the 1990s, marijuana was illegal, but it was also ubiquitous in my middle school and my high school. That’s right, we were smoking pot when I was 12 years old. Why? Because it was a lot easier to get than alcohol despite the fact that there were three liquor stores within a mile of my high school. We didn’t have to flash an ID card or a medical recommendation. It was just there. It was there while we were walking home from school, there during our lunch breaks, and there almost anywhere we went without parental supervision. It was easier to get marijuana because it was illegal. Dealers didn’t care if we were 12 or 18 as long as we had cash.
I am writing from my personal experience, but the data shows that this is how it is throughout our country. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that nearly 80% of 8th to 12th graders say that marijuana is already very easy to get, and in states like Colorado where there is statewide legalization, marijuana use has not risen significantly amongst teens.
Marijuana prohibition is not making it less likely that teens will smoke pot. In the same vein, legalization doesn’t mean making it easier to get marijuana into the hands of young people. It means taking distribution off of the street corners and putting it into the hands of those who are willing and able to subject themselves to the standards of government regulation and the rule of law.
And as important as the minds of our young people are, keeping marijuana illegal also fuels another issue: our national security and our borders. The drug trade out of Mexico fuels illegal immigration by providing steady cashflow to the drug cartels that are ripping that country apart. They provide us with a steady supply of marijuana and other cash, and we provide them with money for guns, ammunition, and other tools for them to conduct their illegal activities. Making marijuana legal here in the United States will hit these cartels in their pocketbooks, leaving them less money to fund the reign of terror that’s driving people out of their country.
It is for these reasons that I think that the Trump Administration and the Republican Party are in a unique position to make marijuana legal. Currently about 4 in 10 Republicans are in favor of marijuana legalization, and the party has classically taken a stance against such measures. But even though Democrats have paid lip service to the legalization movement, President Obama never actually did anything to move federal law in the direction of ending the prohibition. Additionally, Hillary Clinton’s “private opinion” on marijuana differed from her public stance. In a private meeting with bankers in 2016, she told them she would do everything she could to keep marijuana from full legalization.
The Republican Party, at its base, is the party of personal freedom and less government. It was through the GOP that slavery ended, and the party continues to fight for our 2nd Amendment rights. The prohibition of cannabis is also of growing concern for veterans, a heavily Republican community that is currently in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Marijuana could provide relief from pain without the intensely addictive effects of opiate use.
Despite the archaic views of Attorney General Sessions on cannabis, President Trump himself has expressed progressive views on marijuana legalization. The data for legalization is growing, and it is my hope that our president will take the steps necessary to bring us in a direction where we can peacefully use this plant, gain its many benefits, and stop millions of dollars from flowing into the pockets of evil men who have profited from its prohibition for far too long.