Friday, October 29, 2010

Proposition 19: either legalise cannabis or ban alcohol

2 November 2010 California votes on a proposition to legalise marijuana en make various activities linked to the growing and selling of marijuana a legal, controllable and taxable undertaking.

As usual, anything to do with drugs becomes a controversial subject, especially in the US. Proposition 19 is no exception. The nay sayers think it will be the end of civilised society when proposition 19 is approved. Ay sayers think it will pull the rug from under a lot of illegal activities.

I live in the Netherlands, where marijuana is, if not exactly legal under all circumstances, tolerated by the authorities and it can be legally purchased for personal use. So my view on this whole thing is rather liberal. As a matter of fact I see no difference between alcohol or cannabis. One of the arguments of the nay sayers is: "What if your doctor or nurse is high?" Yes, well, what if he or she is drunk? Another argument against prop 19 is that it would lead inevitably to addiction to hard drugs. This is nonsense. Marijuana is less addictive than alcohol. The only reason people who smoke marijuana can become addicted to hard drugs is that the only place they can get marijuana now also happens to be the place that sells the hard stuff because it is both illegal. Pulling marijuana out of the illegal circuit may lead to less addictions to hard drugs in the long run.

In the Netherlands both alcohol and cannabis are freely available, although you need to find a specialist shop for the latter while alcohol is available in practically every food store. Do I see stoners lining the pavement? No. Do our doctors and nurses walk around with their heads in the clouds? No. Do we have substantially more people addicted to hard drugs here than in the U.S.? No. In other words, I think the arguments of the nay sayers are ludicrous. They also deny that the population of California are responsible adults who can think for themselves. Like alcohol, the usage of cannabis is down to a person's own responsibility. Drink driving kills people. Alcohol addiction wrecks families. Yet, the vast majority of people who drink alcohol do so in a responsible manner and know their limits. It will be the same with the use of cannabis when it becomes legal.

There is no valid reason to ban cannabis while at the same time allowing alcohol. Ban them both or don't ban either. And we all know what happens when you ban alcohol...

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