by Avens O’Brien
Last week, Senators Cory Booker, Rand Paul, and Kirsten Gillbrand introduced the first-ever bill in the US Senate to legalize cannabis for medical use. This is a historic moment, and speaks to the broad appeal of cannabis as an issue – two Democrats and a Republican, with massive support from the public have brought this forward.
Just this past Monday, an interview with VICE explored President Obama’s opinions on the subject. Though Obama is known for smoking plenty of weed in his past, he does not like this being a big issue among young voters:
“It shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” Obama said. “Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you, but you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”
Backlash was felt all around, most surprisingly on some mainstream talk shows like The View, which saw Obama being contradicted on his views by the hosts. Cannabis is incredibly popular right now, something libertarians are understandably excited about.
Obama’s comments reminded me of a dinner I attended in May 2014. I ended up sitting next to Ann Coulter as she mocked libertarian ideas while launching backhanded compliments at me regarding my appearance and alleged novelty within the movement.
After asking what I did for a living (I worked for Peter Schiff at the time) she interrupted me to tell me that while “this goldbug thing” was interesting, she met those “Students for Liberty kids” and “the problem with you libertarians is that you’re all obsessed with pot.”
Begging to differ — what’s awesome about libertarians is that we’ve been on the right side of cannabis since the beginning, and the rest of you are finally starting to come on board.
So while people like Barack Obama and Ann Coulter want to dissuade the rest of the country from caring about cannabis, we’re here to tell you exactly why you should be just as obsessed with pot as we allegedly are.
You own your own body.
As such, you should be able to decide what you do or do not put into it. You can smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, yet somehow a safer, more natural substance is simply not allowed.
Beyond that, however:
Cannabis Should Not Be a Schedule I.
In 1970, Cannabis was classified as Schedule I.
- The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
- The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
Despite the fact that numerous studies have shown that:
- Cannabis is not particularly addictive and even abused heavily.
- That 23 states and DC have approved cannabis for medical use.
- That the federal government has issued patents that clearly recognize cannabis’ medical use.
- Cannabis is safer than cigarettes or alcohol.
Legal Cannabis Can Help Us Be Tough On Crime
Let’s be clear: the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
- The US represents approximately 4.4% of the world’s population…
- …but houses 22% of the world’s prisoners.
- There are currently 2.3 million people in prison in the US…
- …which costs taxpayers approximately $60.3 billion annually.
- It’s estimated that 1 in 8 prisoners are in for a marijuana offense.
Imagine the money we could save. Imagine the manpower we could use to solve real crime, like murder or rape. Cannabis legalization will reduce debt, prison populations, repeat offenders and it cripples drug cartels in Mexico. What’s not to love?
Important additional things to note:
- The murder rate has gone down over the last 30 years…
- …but the actual rate of solving murders has also gone down.
- In the 1960s, 90% of homicide cases were solved.
- Currently, that number is 61%.
- While law enforcement keeps themselves busy with the tremendously profitable focus on drugs, they don’t seem to have the time to commit resources to other victim-based crimes, such as murder, rape or potentially, cybercrime.
The simple fact of the matter is, we need to focus on actual crime where people are victimized, and all this wasted time and resources on cannabis is destructive to that goal.
Cannabis Legalization Will Allow People to Get Medication They Need.
Now, I’m not your hippie neighbor telling you that cannabis will cure every ailment you’ve ever had, but there is a scientific reason that cannabis is considered medicinal, and it’s actually a lot more substantiated than your daily St. John’s Wort.
- Cannabanoid receptors are a receptor system in your brain which influence appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory.
- Cannabanoids occur both naturally in your body and externally through plants or synthetic sources.
- Cannabanoids are why cannabis is considered medicine.
Enforcement of Drug Laws is Tremendously Racist
Dear Democrats — where have you been on this? Republican Rand Paul was the first elected official on the national stage to seriously and credibly talk about the fact that enforcement of cannabis prohibition is completely and utterly racist.
- Despite using cannabis at nearly equal rates, blacks are almost FOUR TIMES more likely to be arrested for cannabis use.
- Reports say 1 in 3 black men in America will experience jail in his life
- How many of those 1 in 3 will be for cannabis?
Where are you, liberals?
But wait! There’s more!
We’ve barely scratched the surface of this issue, but in the meantime…
- Washington and Colorado are doing just fine.
- Worried about the economy? Legal cannabis will help!
- Asset forfeiture is massively abused by police departments using the drug war as their cause.
- Prohibition is simply excessively expensive.
- The DEA is financially motivated to fight legalization.
- Incredible groups such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition are doing excellent work speaking out for legalization: their materials are tremendously persuasive.
Sorry Obama, these and many other facts are why cannabis legalization should be a priority of young people, and of everyone else. It will make clear, obvious, measurable and positive change in all of our lives quickly. Had you spent your presidency fighting for cannabis legalization, you could’ve been the president of change you claimed you would be.
The fact is, cannabis is in the air, and us libertarians are here to hand you a joint and tell you it’s about time you became as obsessed with pot as we are.