Drug war on our doorstep: Why marijuana should be legalized

Personally, I will never smoke marijuana, nor do I think it is necessarily a good thing that others do so. However, my opinion about the morality of personal marijuana use is irrelevant in the face of strong evidence that it must be legalized.

There is no reason why marijuana should be treated differently than alcohol and tobacco in terms of its legality. All of them are bad for you, and all of them are worse for you the more you use. Nearly 100 million Americans acknowledge having used marijuana during their lives. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals for their use of a substance that does not have drastically different  health risks than alcohol or tobacco—especially because it costs so much to prosecute all marijuana related arrests. A better and more sensible solution would be to tax and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.

This measure would accomplish several things: First, it would address the health issue of marijuana use. Dealers often add more ingredients to their particular stash of marijuana so they can sell more, and therefore profit more. These additives are mostly worse for you than the actual marijuana, and can be lethal. If the government regulated marijuana like it does tobacco and alcohol, it would also have the power to regulate what goes into it, thereby making it much safer and getting rid of lethal additives. Legalization would reduce health care costs by reducing the probability of overdoses and accidental ingestion of an unintended drug—situations that will remain prevalent without government implemented product safety standards.

Legalizing marijuana would greatly impact the covert nature of the marijuana trade itself. Dealers are the ones in power now, what with their ability to, in large-scale cases, greatly threaten the safety of the general public. One example is the drug war in Mexico (in which 10,000 people have already been killed), another is drug related violence we hear about every day on local news. Dealers are the source of the danger, and if the government stepped in and legalized marijuana, there would be much less need for dealers.

Economically, it makes sense to legalize and regulate marijuana. Prohibition entails direct enforcement costs, and prohibition prevents taxation of marijuana production and sale. First, legalization eliminates arrests for trafficking in addition to eliminating arrests for possession. Second, legalization saves prosecutorial, judicial and incarceration expenses.

   Harvard University Professor Jeffrey A. Miron created a report endorsed by over 500 economists titled The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report shows that taxing and regulating marijuana  in the same way as alcohol or tobacco might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually for a state’s individual budget, and upwards of $300 billion nationally.

Many are concerned that, with legalization, suddenly there will be an increase in marijuana use. What they don’t realize is that people who want to smoke a joint can obtain marijuana very easily anyway. Those who want to use it already can- its legality or lack thereof wouldn’t change that.

To put one’s faith in the anti-drug movement is to ignore the fact that it just isn’t working. We are now in the same position we were in during Prohibition. Everyone who wanted alcohol could already obtain it, and eventually, the country was forced to acknowledge that their efforts to put an end to alcohol consumption had failed.

I am by no means suggesting that we just “give in”—I am suggesting that we assess the situation without a cloud of cultural stigma impeding our ability to see reality. In order to accomplish this, marijuana must be legalized, and in doing that, we can protect the health of a significant portion of our population, eliminate middlemen from the marijuana industry and profit economically.

 

Published in: on April 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm  Comments (1)  
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US Refuses to Sign Cluster Bomb Ban

Nations began signing a treaty banning cluster bombs on Wednesday. 100 of the 192 nations in the UN are expected to sign, with non-signing exceptions such as China, Russia and the United States. I don’t understand why we are so reluctant to sign the ban- After all, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians, 27 percent of those being children. Cluster bombs are essentially lots of little bombs packed into artillery shells, bombs and missiles that shoot them out over a large area in order to cover more ground. However, some of the bombs lie dormant for years, and they are all too often deactivated by unsuspecting children who are distracted by their unfamiliar shape and bright, toy-like coloring, much like land mines.

In the US, scientists and weapons experts work every day to develop new ways to kill. I find that reality repulsive, but if we are working on new weapons all the time, why would it be harmful to ban a more outdated, clearly less accurate method such as cluster bombing?

Despite these statistics, the US refuses to sign the ban. Weapons such as cluster bombing or (God forbid) nuclear warheads desensitize us to the raw humanity of war- with the push of a button, one person can end the lives of thousands or even millions of people, and maim countless others. I don’t believe humans should have that kind of power, but that is the reality in which we live. Because all it takes is the push of a button, for some people, it seems like a “cleaner” war- but the truth is that war is never “clean.” The fact that the US is so reluctant to sign a ban that could potentially save that 98 percent of innocent, civilian victims is disgusting and yet entirely typical of our overly hawkish foreign policy. If our President can look someone in the eye and tell them that he is willing to take responsibility for that 98 percent of unecessary casualties, it demonstrates his lack of thoughtfulness and chilling insensitivity- another reason I hope the door of the White House hits him on the way out.

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 1:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Third “Red Scare”

The liberal-hating witch hunt has begun, courtesy of McCain-Palin ’08.

But this isn’t the first time Republicans have appealed to the mob-forming instinct of a certain sect of low-information voters. Let’s think back to a time of poodle skirts and greased lightning…

In 1950, Sen. Joseph McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period of intense anti-communist suspicion inspired by the tensions of the Cold War. He claimed that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the federal government and elsewhere. During this time, referred to sometimes as the “Second Red Scare,” many thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning. The primary targets of these suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. In other words, liberals.

On Hardball with Chris Matthews, Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman called for a movement by the media to investigate liberals (or “extreme leftists,” as she put it) in the Senate and Congress to see whether or not they were “Anti-American.” The new robo-calls by the McCain campaign accuse Barack Obama of being friends with people who “kill Americans.” I have now seen multiple Republican politicians refer to liberals and, more specifically, Barack Obama, as “Anti-American.”

So will someone please enlighten me, poor, unrepentantly “leftist” gal that I am, as to how eliminating women’s right to choose, sending AMERICANS to die for a war based on exaggerated evidence, creating a healthcare plan that ignores the plight of those who can’t afford health insurance, inciting radical right wing mobs under the slogan that the Democratic opponent is “palling around with terrorists” when that “terrorist” (singular) is now repentant, rehabilitated and an advocate for social reform, is “pro American”?

But clearly, these Republican politicians I’ve mentioned don’t believe in rehabilitation and reform. If they did, they’d try it with our country.

Palin-Land: What GOP Feminism Means for America

Somewhere, Susan B. Anthony is turning over in her grave.

 

It’s insulting that the McCain campaign would try to appeal to female voters by nominating a woman who is radically antifeminist. During her career as mayor, Palin approved a law that makes rape victims pay for all forensic and medical exams after they have been raped. What kind of barbarian makes women essentially pay to be raped?

 

Palin believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned (although, when interviewed, she said she believes there is an implicit right to privacy in the constitution). What kind of backwards society would Palin’s America be?

 

We can be certain, given her record, that we would see an even more intolerant, unsupportive America for women. The Bush administration this month is quietly cutting off birth control supplies to some of the world’s poorest women in Africa. They, along with the world, are turning a blind eye to the fact that without birth control supplies, these women have an increased chance at dying in childbirth- a chance that is already 1 in 10. If Palin thinks nothing of making rape victims pay hundreds of dollars after they are raped in the town of Wasilla, Alaska, then what would stop her from continuing to ignore women’s rights on a global scale? The last thing Palin needs is a wider sphere of influence.

Palin has strongly encouraged an abstinence-only sex education curriculum because of her belief that birth control is a form of abortion. The United States has double the amount of teenage pregnancies as Canada, largely due to our backwards idea that abstinence only sex ed will work in 21st century America. Palin’s solution for the abortion problem is “a more supportive community for teenage mothers.” Does she forget that under Democratic presidents, there are statistically fewer abortions because of increased funding and attention to sex education? Apparently. We can be sure that, in a McCain-Palin administration, the needs of women will continue to be ignored and a retrograde attitude towards teenage pregnancy will continue to be held.

McCain didn’t think it was important to choose a qualified female nominee. When asked about Palin’s knowledge, GOP advisors say that being knowledgeable “isn’t her function” and proceed to talk more about “exciting the base.” If her job isn’t to be knowledgeable, then what is it? To be a more attractive alternative to a furry elephant mascot? In effect, McCain chose a female running mate because he thinks women are stupid enough to vote solely based on gender and that nobody will pay attention to the fact that their “feminist” candidate is no more a feminist than Sen. McCain himself, who has consistently voted against progressive laws for women’s rights, including equal pay for equal work.

One could argue that the VP choice shouldn’t decide the election- the presidential candidate should. I agree. But what does it say about John McCain that he would nominate a woman who, if given the power, would reduce women’s rights to what they were in 1920?

No one who votes for a McCain-Palin ticket can call themselves a feminist, because they would knowingly be voting into office a candidate who (just like her running mate), would turn back the clock on women’s rights if given the power- and she’d do it with a wink.

Biden, presidential? “You betcha!”

World, please don’t wink at me, say the words “betcha,” “ain’t,” “darn,” or stare at me unblinkingly with a bemused, brainwashed-looking smile. If, however, you absolutely insist on making a hillbilly caricature of yourself in my presence, I may have to resort to physical violence to preserve my sanity. Last night’s cringe-inducing responses from the clearly unqualified Alaska governor Sarah Palin made me want to vomit, especially given the knowledge that she may be (God forbid!) President one day.

While Joe Biden gave strong, substantive, specific answers debunking the “maverick” myth, the “we’re reformers” myth, and the “we’re not like Bush” myth with a forceful but calm delivery, Palin transformed herself into a cartoon. The fact that she believes she can appeal to mainstream America by dumbing everything down is an insult.  Sarah dear, you can “say it ain’t so” all you want, but it’s fairly obvious that you have only a tangential grasp of policy at best, and that you were very well trained by those GOP ideologues that gave you those flashcards to practice with.

It’s interesting that now, Obama/Biden looks like the “safer” ticket to vote for, with the McCain/Palin ticket looking like a risk, which it is.

While Palin didn’t trip, start weeping, or throw her frameless glasses to the ground in frustration, she most certainly didn’t do well. Let’s look at this analytically: If Palin were a man, and if she hadn’t just had an incredibly embarrassing week, pundits would be tearing apart her performance en masse like my fat chihuahua tears apart my old beanie babies.

It’s clear which candidate looked ready to step in for the president if need be. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the folksy cliche machine otherwise known as “Hockey Mom,” “Maverick,” or “Joe Sixpack.”

Liar, Liar- Will it Backfire?

For someone who claims to want to take politics out of the current bailout plan, John McCain was able to put politics right back into the equation. First, like a schoolyard bully, McCain practically dared Obama to be as “take charge” as he is. By that, I mean John McCain tried to take control of his dwindling poll numbers by looking like an altruist. America, don’t be fooled. John McCain called our economic state a “crisis” last week- yet it was only when the new ABC poll (in which McCain was 9 points down) was showed, that he decided to “suspend” his campaign.  He managed to do several network interviews and spend some time at home, yet somehow an actual substantive debate is tacky when the economy is crashing and burning. When McCain went to Washington, he didn’t make the bailout a shining example of bipartisanship as he promised- rather he walked in on an already bipartisan agreement, introduced a very partisan new idea, and proceeded to undo the past six days’ work within a couple hours. At the comedic farce that was his meeting with Bush this morning, McCain spoke just once and only for a couple minutes. Did he redeem his lack of input with a stunning, “maverick” style new idea? Of course not.

In short, John McCain put his own potical gain over the very real needs of our country. But never fear, McCain has Sarah Palin to lean on. She knows a thing or two about the economy- As governor of Alaska, she saved money by making women pay for rape kits!

As Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel said- in the name of progress, he stalled it. he claimed to take politics out of it and put politics right back into it.

As I said- Liar, liar.

Palin’s Speech: Three Troubling Remarks

1. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”

This was slap at all those who work hard to build up communities from the bottom up. Often working in inner city areas, community organizers teach local leaders how to lead and improve their community when politicians just aren’t getting the job done. I’m sorry, Sarah, but the paltry 616 votes you received to be elected mayor don’t make you better than Barack Obama. I’m sorry that, in your book, the Iditarod races are more important than helping the disadvantaged get healthcare. While the first portion of the RNC was supposed to be about service, I guess that was purely political, then, since you so blatantly mock it?

2. Palin also said that the war in Iraq is “a task from God”

……Are you kidding me?

3. “Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and [Obama’s] worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”

When more than half of the men and boys -some as young as fourteen- detained at Guantanamo Bay as suspected terrorists and tortured for years by US officials were eventually released without charge, there may be a reason for having those most minimal of rights accorded to suspects after all.

Sarah: This is democratic nation, not a fascist regime.

“I’m an Older, Whiter Obama.”

McCain’s speech last night was a strange speech. Whoever wrote the speech did a terrible job, because it made McCain look unenthusiastic about his own candidacy. He isn’t known for his oratorical skills, but the speech lacked any overriding theme that could serve as an argument for the Republican “cause,” and it featured a few choice lies about his political record and that of Sarah Palin, as well. McCain wants to be seen as a lobbyist-bashing, reform minded Conservative, when in fact a lobbyist wrote his economic policy, he voted with Bush 95% of the time, and he is willing to adopt the very economic policy he once criticized as being “unfair to the middle class”. “Straight Talk”? Please.

The speech can be summarized like this: “I will change Washington by fighting against the special interests. I will fight for you. I will fight for America. We’ll all fight, fight, fight. Change is coming. It’s time to change politics as usual. It’s time to lessen the influence of the lobbyists in Washington. Fight, fight fight. I’ll never stop fighting for you because I’m a fighter. I remember a Latino man from Michigan…”

OH MY GOD! IT’S BARACK OBAMA AND HILLARY CLINTON’S LOVE CHILD!

Political Ambition First. Country? Not So Much.

During the entire Republican Convention, not once was the plight of the increasingly polarized condition of our economy mentioned, but the Iraq war was called “a mission from God.”

While Sarah Palin tried to paint Barack Obama as a celebrity who stands for nothing and scorns small town America, she avoided ever talking about how exactly a McCain/Palin administration would, as she put it, “Shake up Washington.” Here’s how they really plan to instigate “reform”:

1. the Global Gag Rule, a measure to cut funding of aid organizations in developing nations if they so much as advise women on birth control, will be made permanent. This shows how out of touch McCain and Palin are, because one of the keys to making a developing nation developed is to help with population control and to empower the women of that country. Don’t worry, Sarah, I’m sure God would approve a woman’s use of birth control if it would mean that she wouldn’t bear a child who would almost surely die of starvation or disease.

2. The Bush economic policies would remain in place. As McCain vowed, “I will not let the Democrats overturn the Bush tax cuts.” Like Bush, he will pour billions of dollars into tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations. While trickle down economics has worked in the past, it certainly hasn’t been working for the past eight years, and to promise that everything will be different when everything is, in fact, the same, is just misleading. While you could argue that everyday people will end up paying more for consumer goods if the large corporations are taxed more and hike up their prices, big corporations are much more able to absorb taxes than everyday people just trying to get by. If you want to see an increase in the price of consumer goods, just look at what we have now. It is NOT working and will not work even if a different crusty old man implements it.

3. Pretending that a McCain Palin ticket is going to be better for the environment than an Obama Biden ticket is utter nonsense. Palin herself denies that humans are the cause of climate change and openly disputed the US government’s own findings so that drilling could occur in Alaska. Palin and McCain’s “let’s scorch the earth first” agenda is not going to help us in the long run. The idea that gas prices will go down if we drill is misleading because oil companies can still raise prices, and knowing them, they most definitely will.

4. If McCain really supported the troops, he would have supported the GI Bill. There’s a reason that deployed soldiers support Obama 6:1. Why? Because they know he cares about them enough to give them the benefits they deserve. Obama won’t, as McCain did, argue that the GI bill should be based on how many years someone is overseas. If someone is there a month and is maimed for life while another is there for three years and nothing happens, how is the person who was there a month not deserving of a guaranteed college education? Alternately, if you need to keep Americans in Iraq for 3 or 4 tours of duty on the threat that if they don’t, they won’t have college guaranteed, then what does that say about the level of public support for the war? Clearly, not enough people want to enlist, because they know that they’re not fighting to safeguard American freedom. Yet again, McCain shows how out of touch he is with the realities of our military situation.

5. calling diplomacy a “failed policy” as McCain did when referencing talks with Iran proves that he will continue the same “We’re America, Dammit” approach to foreign policy. Do we really want to see more news coverage of American flags burning on foreign streets? We need to view ourselves not only as the world superpower, but as one of an international community that is more interdependent than ever before. Barack Obama will accomplish this.

So go ahead, Sarah, talk about being a hockey mom. I get it. You’re normal. But that’s all you proved to me last night. If you and McCain really wanted to help this country, you would have talked more about how to implement the “reform” you speak of, not exhibit the various ways in which you can pander to the uninformed but enthusiastic crowd at the RNC.

The Hypocrisy of the Religious Right

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips.  “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ poem is exactly what America stands for. We are a nation that (through theory and historical example) welcomes exiles, immigrants, and those who are willing to take a leap of faith and begin a new life in an unknown land. In this sense, America is the nation that follows the original tenets of Jesus Christ better than any other in the world. The mission that is set forth for every American upon birth is to continue this legacy by personifying this uniquely American spirit.

There is a group in America, however, that espouses the same ideas yet is the worst at following them. The Religious Right is completely and utterly hypocritical, and that collective hypocrisy, with the nomination of Sarah Palin, may soon come to define America to the international community. Here are some of the most common forms of radical right wing thought and why they don’t make sense:

The Allegation: Those people who comprise the Religious Right think that Democrats want government to, as an acquaintance of mine put it, “control everything.”

The Reality Check: So, wanting the government to tell you who you can marry (anti gay rights), what a woman can do with her body (wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade), regardless of what the man does with his body (this is for those hard-liners who think abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape, such as Sarah Palin and possibly John McCain) doesn’t count as having the government “control everything”?

The Allegation: RRs are pro-life while Democrats are “abortionists.”

The Reality Check: The term “pro-life” is completely misleading. Those Republicans who believe that a mother shouldn’t have an abortion even if the complications of her pregnancy may prove fatal to herself are, in fact, not pro-life. They believe that the mother should die rather than have an abortion. To me, that sounds more like “anti-woman” than “pro-life”. The terms pro-life and pro-choice should be changed to anti-choice and pro-choice, because that is much more accurate. It is totally hypocritical for those who call themselves “pro-life” to wrap themselves up in a guise of morality when really, they’re completely ignoring the needs of women, preferring to treat them as mere childbearing vessels.

The Allegation: that Democrats aren’t as moral or pro-family values as the Religious Right.

The Reality Check: A few nonexamples to ponder: John McCain’s despicable treatment of his first wife, John McCain calling a teenage Chelsea Clinton “ugly” in 1998, John McCain calling his wife the c-word, Larry Craig in the airport bathroom, Ted Stevens’ corruption scandal, George Bush and the Iraq war, Bush, Cheney and the oil companies… the list goes on. Can you really claim that you’re the party of family values and morality? If you think being anti-choice qualifies you for that title, then see the above allegation and reality check.

For those of you who honestly believe that you’re the followers of Christ in your pro-NRA, anti-choice agenda, here’s another reality check: Jesus taught us to love one’s neigbor as oneself, to be nonviolent, to help the underpriveleged, and to turn the other cheek. He would NOT agree with hating gays, telling the mentally handicapped who make up the majority of the homeless population to “pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” even if they don’t have boots, or reducing the role of women to people who, even if they are raped or their health may be compromised, should stay pregnant, and dare they work, not get equal pay.

Though Rush Limbaugh said in an email “Palin= guns, babies, Jesus,” Palin really equals a potential future where America will be identified with the emblem of the religious right: a caricature depicting a hickish, gun-toting Jesus Christ.

Published in: on September 1, 2008 at 3:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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