Is the bad really in the bud?

Neil Chakravarty

I am amazed at the legalization of marijuana in Washington State not because of the legalization itself, but because it has remained illegal as long as it has.

Currently under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 substance: the very same designation used to classify cocaine, methamphetamine (meth for short), and heroin. You would have to be hard-pressed to convince someone that a plant that has recorded widespread use dating back over ten thousand years (with not one recorded death from overdose) has the same potential for harm as drugs made from gasoline and car battery fluids among other equally terrible things.

Regardless of how “bad” pot actually is for you, voters last month legalized marijuana on a state level as a matter of saving money, and rightly so. According to a recent study by Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Miron, the federal government would save roughly $7.7 billion a year. To put this in perspective, this amount would be equivalent to the annual taxes of every student in the Issaquah School District (yes, even the Kindergarteners) after they grow up, for 20 years.

The law passed legalizes marijuana for adults, yet it still has several glaring flaws, the most pertinent of which is the DUI clause. Under the clause, a THC blood test reading of 5ng/mL or higher after getting pulled over will slap one with a DUI charge, even if someone possesses a medical marijuana license. What really grinds peoples’ gears however is that this legal limit is so incredibly low (routine smokers can have consistent THC levels in the thousands of ng/mL) that people in Washington state virtually have to choose between smoking and never driving, or driving and never smoking. From that perspective, I-502 doesn’t seem to increase peoples’ freedom to do what they please in the slightest.

My point is not to make weed seem like a good thing; it’s not. Yet for however many billions of dollars the government is spending, can one really say they are doing a good job when probably any high school kid within a hundred miles of Liberty could get his hands on some bud with a few quick phone calls? If the government really wants to protect people, they should regulate and sell the weed themselves as they are going to do here to prevent drug dealers from “dipping” or “dusting” the weed with other harmful drugs such as cocaine or PCP to increase addictiveness. It’s not in the bud where danger lies, it’s in its market.