Last week, a letter was submitted to the Lock Haven Express that brought my ethics into question regarding the displeasure I expressed over the arrest of a senior citizen for allegedly growing marijuana. It is quite apparent there is a divided opinion among our small pocket of citizenry over what is, and what is not ethical regarding this subject.
Those who support the arrest of people like Professor Lebin are quick to say things like, "The law is the law." or, "He should have known better." This assertion is not wrong if one views the law as religious fundamentalists like the Westboro Baptist Church view Scripture, but for those who take the time to pay attention to the consequences of our 40-year war on drugs, this view is divorced from the negative cost individuals and society as a whole are paying for the continuation of failed policies which are turning otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 40 percent of the population admits to trying marijuana at least once. The most recent reports from various studies related to marijuana usage show these numbers are growing.
During alcohol prohibition, everyday Americans had become criminals and we lived in a nation rife with hypocritical laws sundered from reason. "The law was the law" then, as it is now for marijuana. Immense damage was done to our nation and the mob flourished as the Mexican cartels do now, creating horrific violence and corruption in all levels of government.
Just as we did nearly 80 years ago, it is time to recognize the error in judgment we have made, and reconnect common sense to our local, state and national drug laws. It's time to stop turning normal, everyday citizens into criminals.
If it is ethical to you to keep ruining lives for a failed policy that most people (56 percent according to the latest Rasmussen poll) agree needs reformed, then I want nothing to do with your ethics.
Sweeping generalizations about people who use marijuana, like those presented by the author of the aforementioned letter, often fail to include the successful individuals and great minds that have admitted to using marijuana, including, but not limited to, actor Morgan Freeman, astrophysicists Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Gates, Olympian Michael Phelps, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and three out of three of our last three presidents. If the law had been the law, none of these people would have achieved individual greatness, and given the effect a criminal record can have on someone's life, we should ask ourselves how many lives with this same potential have been destroyed, not by marijuana, but by the imbecilic policies of prohibition?
For those who disagree, I would ask you to reconsider your opinion. Any policy that would, if actually enforced, give over 40 percent of the population a criminal record or put them in prison is a fairly clear sign that you might be clinging to a bad idea that is harming all of us far more than your perceived apprehensions about legalizing marijuana.