Reader Poll: Should Marijuana Be Legal For Recreational Consumption?

For the sake of this discussion, I do not include medicinal marijuana for consideration.  Personally, I’m not committed to either side here and have no dog in this fight.  I don’t see myself becoming a consumer if it becomes legal either.  I could be swayed to either position.


  1. I think it should be legal. The only argument against it seems to be this delusion that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” This is a silly argument. If marijuana leads to heroine then so does alcohol. Besides, the University of Pittsburgh studied this and found no evidence that marijuana leads to substance abuse.

    It’s certainly not good for you, but neither is tobacco, alcohol, or cheeseburgers. Just because something is harmful doesn’t mean it should be illegal – unless you live in Bloombergville.

    Lastly, I don’t believe its short-term effects are any worse than those of alcohol. In fact, I believe marijuana’s short-term effects are safer for society because the propensity for violence tends to decrease with marijuana; this is certainly not true with alcohol.

    So it seems silly to support the continued legalization of alcohol while rallying against the legalization of marijuana. Not only will legalization reduce drug-related violence, it’ll bring the government additional revenue through taxes and reduce the amount of money spent investigating and adjudicating marijuana-related crimes.

  2. I mostly agree with Terrance. When I was a kid, the people who supplied the weed could also supply other drugs. If a kid is curious, this will enable his curiosity by virtue of the ready availability of the other drugs. “Oh! You have mescaline? I always wondered what that was like!” But if the curiosity is strong, and the weed supplier has nothing but weed, the kid will look to other sources to try other drugs. I tried certain drugs because of the effect advertised by other users. Those effects seemed like fun. Heroin, for one example, didn’t seem like much of a good time, so I never tried it. Other drugs I never tried a second time due to the effects being less attractive than others. The “gateway drug” angle never made sense to me.

    However, rather than “legalize”, I think “decriminalize” would be the better route, if I’m understanding the distinction properly. But the idea of taxation is not a compelling argument in my mind. Who cares if the gov’t gets a piece of the action? Why must they? The main issue is whether or not the drug in question is so dangerous that consenting adults cannot make the choice to use on their own without gov’t interference.

    The one thing either legalization or decriminalization provide is a change in “driving under the influence” law as regards testing for the drug in one’s system. Use can be traced for a month or so after actual use, and the thought of losing one’s license (CDL-A) because one toked on the weekend, or three weekends ago (or just after work) seems very unjust to me. Testing positive doesn’t mean one is faced.

  3. IF they are going to decriminalize it, then make age restrictions like alcohol – 21.

    And I see it as worse than alcohol, because you need more than one drink to be drunk and dangerous on the road, but it doesn’t take much mj to get spaced out. I was hit by a guy whacked out on weed and he totaled the car I was in. Fortunately, I had only minor injuries. They guy had no idea what he was doing.

  4. Glenn,

    Not to get too deep into it, but I would suggest that the dude who smashed your ride was likely a careless dude anyway. You’d be surprised at the things I’ve done and accomplished while under the influence of all sorts of substances. I don’t say that to recommend it, encourage it or justify it, but the point is that it isn’t how much one tokes or drinks, but whether or not the person is capable of adapting to his inebriation. Some people just don’t care and when faced care even less. But again, they never cared to be responsible in the first place.

  5. paynehollow says:

    You criminalize dangerous behavior, not unseemly habits.

    Drinking or smoking pot is not dangerous to bystanders.

    Driving while impaired is.

    You criminalize that which causes (or reasonably potentially causes) harm, not that with which you merely disagree.

    Legalize it, tax it and use a portion of the tax moneys to deal with the problems (including educational and rehabilitation efforts) that result from the abuse of the drug. (And to be sure, there WILL be/are problems that result from the abuse of any drug and those abuses WILL happen – but by legalizing it and taxing it, you have an income stream to deal with those problems.)

    Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    ~Dan Trabue

  6. “You criminalize that which causes (or reasonably potentially causes) harm”

    That was certainly the idea behind Prohibition and the criminalization of pot growing, selling and possession. These substances harm. THAT’S a no-brainer.

  7. paynehollow says:

    Joe Smith who lives down the street from you smokes a joint before going to bed. How SPECIFICALLY is there any harm to you in that action?

    You criminalize that which causes harm. If someone abuses a substance (whether it’s cigarettes, joints or alcohol) and that abuse leads to harm, you punish that. You don’t punish that which doesn’t cause harm.

    Interestingly, though, your argument would have us outlaw not only pot and alcohol, but also guns and knives. Are you sure that’s where you want to take your stand, Marshall?


    • This doesn’t seem to be the case with strictly marijuana users, but the other harder drugs do cause harm to others. For example, crack, heroin, and meth addicts will eventually run out of their own money and still need a fix. That’s when prostitution, theft, and robbery surface. Even if the drugs were legal and cheap, if one “needed” the drug but had no money, crime is their outlet.

  8. paynehollow says:

    It’s not the drugs that cause harm, John, but the crime that sometimes results. Now, if you can make a case that SOME drugs are likely enough to push someone to do harmful crime to others, then in that case, you might be able to make a case.

    That is, if it’s 1% of “hard drug” users are likely to engage in crime, but not 99%, then it would be hard to make that case. If, on the other hand 50% of “hard drug” (or ANY drug) users are likely to engage in harmful crime, then it becomes more reasonable to outlaw the drug for all. I think the question might be, what is a reasonable percentage or likely “harmers” to take away the rights of the “non-harmers…”? I’m fine with asking those sorts of questions.

    I do not think the evidence suggests that recreational pot smokers are significantly more likely than recreational alcohol or tobacco users are to engage in behavior that is harmful to others, but I’m open to reading hard evidence.


    • If you notice I made the stipulation that even habitual pot users do not seem prone to crime, hard drug users usually are. Even if on a small scale. If I had to declare a leaning I would lean toward legalization of marijuana, but not others.

  9. “It’s not the drugs that cause harm, John, but the crime that sometimes results…”

    Or to rephrase, it’s not the drugs that cause harm, but the crime that results from the use of drugs.

    On the topic. I don’t have a huge problem with legalizing weed and taxing it, although I suspect that just like cigarette taxes weed taxes will be regressive. Of course the impaired driving laws would have to be changed to reflect this as well.

    My concern is that while weed may not lead inexorably to other harder drugs, the people and circumstances that seem to surround folks who smoke weed probably will. I’d suggest that while there certainly are folks who smoke some weed before bed, they are probably the minority.

  10. In Dan’s quest for evidence he might want to look at the study commissioned by P-BO’s drug czar and what conclusions said drug czar has drawn from said study. It will be difficult, but I’m sure that someone on the left will be able to paint this as a right wing smear tactic or something. Difficult, but not impossible.

  11. In a book I have about cancer, a gov’t run study on pot meant to find reasons to outlaw it, found that pot is useful in fighting cancer. This would suggest a reason to decriminalize it. However, the lungs are meant only for oxygen. Smoking pot is harmful to the user. Aside from alcohol in the past, and recreational drugs today, there have been many things outlawed for harm caused only to the user. Within the past decade or so, ephedrine was banned. In that case, however, only those who abused it suffered. No case of proper use causing problems (except where allergic reaction took place—how would one know beforehand?) were presented. Also, there have been several cancer therapies banned that are legal in other countries and saving lives.

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