On Thursday Anthony Gregory published a brilliant article at The Huffington Post on decriminalizing marijuana. I have virtually nothing to add to his piece, but wanted to share his insight on the matter. Of particular importance are his points about the relative safety of pot compared with other drugs (it’s not only considered safer than alcohol and tobacco, but caffeine as well).
This is not to suggest that safety should be the main thrust of pro-decriminalization arguments. If we indeed own our bodies then safety is both a subjective term and a personal matter. Safety issues are important because it helps to correct long-standing myths about the drug, which are used by drug warriors to scare the public into supporting their inhumane program. It’s a lot easier to convince people that prison rape is an acceptable treatment for drug addiction if there is fear of what the alternative might be.
Here is one passage of Gregory’s piece that I found important:
The entire drug war is a monstrosity, a crime against the Bill of Rights, the greatest contributor to gang violence, a wholesale attack on our civil liberties and the right of individuals to control their own bodies. Characterizing drug problems as a criminal justice issue has been an unmitigated failure, except for serving law-enforcement special interests, growing the bureaucracy, and deepening the pockets of drug kingpins who profit off this madness.
Marijuana criminalization always rested on the flimsiest of grounds. Fear of blacks and Hispanics fueled the hysteria. So did conflicting propaganda about how marijuana would make American youth violent, yet also make them docile and unable to serve in the Armed Forces.
If marijuana is not the most benign recreational drug known to humanity, it is near the top. Alcohol kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. Tobacco kills hundreds of thousands. Pot directly kills zero.
Scientists measure the lethality of a drug by its therapeutic index. The TI gauges how many effective doses of a drug it takes to kill the median user. Alcohol’s TI is somewhere around ten. Caffeine’s is approximately one hundred. Marijuana’s is a matter of conjecture, since it’s been extrapolated from studies with lab rats and other such methods. But scientists estimate its TI somewhere between 1,000 and 40,000. In other words, marijuana is somewhere between a hundred and four thousand times less lethal than alcohol.
Read the full article here.