On Saturday 17th December, Malta will have its first peaceful demonstration to change cannabis laws. As curious bloggers do, I’ve been following the event with some interest, and in the hope that I would learn of something new. I’ll admit that I did hear of many reasons why I should go to the demo.
What I did not hear were reasons, real and actual reasons why weed ought to be legal. I racked my brain long and hard, and if I set aside the not so trifling affair of personal freedom, came up with 5 Reasons Why Weed Should be Legal.
1: Prohibition failed
It’s pretty obvious to anyone with a passing interest that prohibition has failed. Not only is marijuana readily available, it’s also popular, even if sometimes the EU studies we always see published somehow say it’s not. Listen, people lie when asked questions, just ask anyone who works at hospital or the GU clinic to corroborate that.
The fact that news stories about kids being arrested with weed are no longer than 2 paragraphs is evidence that these arrests are an old story, and that people are smoking. Indeed they are. Therefore, keeping weed illegal hasn’t worked, and lord knows we’ve thrown everything and the cat at it. Perhaps it’s time to try something different.
2: Not lethal
Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is not lethal. Smoking weed will not kill you any more than drinking will. In fact, if you lived in a vacuum where cars, gravity and casual injuries did not exist, you’d probably die faster just from alcohol. Katt Williamssays, “Long as you been living, you ain’t NEVER heard of a motherfucker overdosing on marijuana. You might-a THOUGHT that nigga was dead–he ain’t dead. He gonna wake up in 30 minutes hungry enough to eat up everything in your house. That’s the side effects: hungry, happy, sleep.”
So, if marijuana is not lethal and will not kill you, why do we allow that so many resources, be they manpower, legal or financial, are wasted on enforcing weed’s current illegal state? There’s no good reason why weed is illegal, especially since it doesn’t kill anyone, so why don’t we dedicated those resources to stuff that kills. Like drunk driving, or putting down a couple of bollards so people can’t drive their car into the sea. Or domestic violence.
3: Less crime
Listen, I can tell you one way to get those crime levels down, if anyone’s counting. Leave these kids who are caught smoking a couple of doobies alone, and don’t ruin their lives just because of a youthful mistake. Come on, that’s just not cool. I would understand putting a mark next to someone’s name if they were 15 or 16 year old criminals, but that shit don’t extend to smoking weed. It extends to beating a teacher. It extends to driving drunk without a license. Not having a couple of puffs.
Smoking weed does not make someone a criminal. Stop wasting so much time and money on putting people who puff behind bars, and let’s not make criminals out of ordinary people.
4: Gateway drug
There is absolutely no chemical evidence whatsoever that smoking marijuana leads to wanting to try other drugs. Marijuana itself does not make you want to do that. Absolutely no chemical / physical evidence. What does happen is this.
You keep weed illegal. Most people will not be in a position to grow their own, so they buy from a dealer. Dealer doesn’t just deal in weed, he also does a good line in coke, speed, heroin, what have you. He makes it a point to mention this. At that point, it’s not some gateway drug phenomenon that makes people what to buy something else, apart from weed. At that point, it’s just human curiosity. And the fact that in order to get high, people have to make contact with what the tabloids call the ‘criminal underworld’.
Now we get to the really interesting bit. One reason why weed should be legal is because then we can tax it. So instead of spending a lot of the country’s hard earned money policing something that doesn’t need to be policed, we actually make money off it. And you’ll realize that this makes sense once you run the numbers.
Let’s assume that there are only 10,000 people who smoke marijuana once every month in Malta. Now let’s assume that they each spend €10 a month on weed. If you tax each and every one of those transaction at 10%, that’s €10,000 in taxes. Not bad. But even better, assume 25,000 people, each at €25 per month. That’s a pretty whopping €62,500, if you ask me. And remember, this is still keeping the weed tax rate at 10%, which is a pretty cheap tax, especially considering that for other things you buy to smoke, namely cigarettes, as of the 1st of January 2014, “the overall excise duty on cigarettes shall represent at least 60 % of the weighted average retail selling price of cigarettes released for consumption.” So a little bit of fucking consistency wouldn’t hurt.