With this post I am not so much providing food for thought as I am promoting pot for thought (or recreational use)
This is one topic which (for the most part) I think people have become much more open to recently. In fact, in California, there is a proposition on the ballot this November for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. I am a firm believer in the legalization of marijuana, and I hope to convey some of my ideas. The debate on this topic is certainly not very new, and the arguments are really not original anymore. But I will repeat them just the same in order to get the conversation started.
First a little bit of background info. The earliest evidence of the smoking/inhalation of marijuana has been dated to the bronze age (or some 5000 years ago). Hemp used for rope and various other applications has been dated back 10,000 years. It has been illegal for only 1% of the time that it has been used by man. In fact, between 1763 and 1767 you could be jailed in Virginia for not growing hemp. It was a huge cash crop for the early colonies, and it was legal throughout American history until the early to mid 1900s. At this point William Randolph Hearst ran a smear campaign against marijuana in order to get it declared illegal by congress. What were his motivations you may ask. The answer is not what you may think; it wasn't for public health or safety, in fact the best interests of the public weren't even in question. No; his motivation was simply this: profit. Hearst had tons of money invested in timber, the material used to make all of his newspapers and publications. At the time hemp was poised to replace timber as the main material for printing. Hearst stood to lose a fortune, and as a result he fought for a bill to be passed making marijuana illegal. This brings us to modern day.
There are hundreds of conflicting studies, some government sanctioned, others not, begging the question: Who is right? Well if you subscribe to my point of view, for the most part marijuana is harmless and should not be illegal. Many opponents argue that marijuana is addictive. This is simply untrue. Marijuana has no chance of physical addiction. Sure, it may be habit forming, but this is true with almost everything. It is so much cleaner than tobacco and cigarettes, and it carries almost no risk of long term harm if used with a vaporizer. The only real danger that has been conclusively proven to be linked to marijuana is smoke inhalation. This can be avoided in a variety of ways. Alcohol is more toxic than marijuana. In fact, as we have seen in recent years, marijuana is very effective for medicinal purposes. And there's even more benefits in the legalization of pot; millions of dollars in taxes could be collected from the sale and growth of marijuana. This money could be used to balance the crumbling state budget, and it would be a major boost for the economy. Not to mention, the legalization would allow actual corporations to grow and distribute marijuana, leading to a decrease in gang violence and the destruction of much organized crime; the marijuana drug cartels would practically go out of business. There would be no need for black market pot when it could be sold legally at the store. This would solve so many problems in today's society. And finally there's quality control; government could set standards preventing toxic chemicals from being added, as well as preventing the insertion of addictive substances. Why haven't we legalized it yet? It's an interesting question, and hopefully in November it won't need to be asked any longer. And finally, on a related note, please vote YES on California proposition 19.