Legalize Pot, For the Children?

marijuanaOn the eightieth anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition America looks back and shudders at one of its most embarrassing social policies. Today we all recognize how and why alcohol prohibition was a failure. There is little question that the temperance movement only exacerbated the violence, crime that it blamed alcohol for, and anyone caught defending the eighteenth amendment now would be universally mocked.

While American’s did away with prohibition almost a century ago, the ghosts of its Puritan pushers are far from gone. Today, almost half of all Americans that damn prohibition as a futile and senseless policy advocate for the prohibition of marijuana. Inexplicably, people seem to understand the history of the failures of prohibition, but not the message of it. Everything the Temperance movement set out to do backfired at the cost to public safety.

Prohibition failed to stop people drinking, unwittingly created the climate in which violent liquor gangs could gain power, and actually ended up making the world a significantly more dangerous place. Though the target of prohibition has changed from something you drink to something you smoke, the consequences of prohibition are heartbreakingly the same.

The sole silver lining to come from drug prohibition is that decades of this wretched policy has thoroughly proven its proponents wrong. In eighty years we seem to have forgotten how prohibition actually makes the world worse. My only hope is that it won’t take us many more to learn what our grandparents knew long ago.

While the twenty-first century prohibitionists claim they are saving society, it is their policies that are in fact making things worse. Below I have laid out three of the most common objections to legalized marijuana and the ironic consequences that follow from them.

1. It’s for the children!

If the awful people that make this argument donated a nickel to charity for every time they used it, no child would ever go hungry again. The proponents of pot prohibition hysterically cry that drugs will ruin a child’s future, and are determined to make it so. Even when the drugs themselves don’t ruin your life, our child loving neoprohibitionists have made sure drug laws will. Given most narcotics charge comes with minimum prison sentences, unbelievably high fines, and a stigma that will forever scar the user’s resumé and life, it’s hard to take their empathy for children seriously. Though it is true children rarely benefit from drug use, surely no child was ever more harmed by a puff of marijuana than by a federal prison sentence.

2.  Pot makes you unproductive and a burden on society

Yes, some strains of marijuana can make a person unproductive, but luckily being unproductive is not illegal in the United States. If we want to criminalize sloth as a society, there are much larger culprits to go after than marijuana. The average person spends up to three hours a day on social media websites, and 34 hours a week watching television.

 Even if we are to buy into the mythical stereotype of the pot smoker as a couch locked glutton wasting away in their parents basement, this does not make someone a burden on society. The real burdens to society are not the marijuana smokers on the couch, but the marijuana smokers in prison. New York City reportedly spent almost $167,731 per prisoner in 2012. Drug users become a burden to society only when they’re forced not to work at the cost of almost two hundred grand per person to the taxpayer.

3.  Pot is bad for you

 So is federal prison…

Follow the author Patrick Kane at or on Twitter @PatVKane


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