The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: Ron Granieri Rebuts
Ron Granieri: Rebuttal #3
[The RP’s Provocation; Jason Atkinson’s Rebuttal #1; The RP’s First Defense: Jason Atkinson’s First Response; Artur Davis’ Rebuttal #2; The RP’s Second Defense; Artur Davis’ First Response]
I have avoided getting into this talk because, amusingly enough, I really do not have a clear opinion.
Like the RP, I have never really smoked weed, but know plenty of people who have and who have not turned into the giggling dope fiends of Reefer Madness. I appreciate the arguments about enforcing existing law, and also the dangers of gateway drugs, but I can also see the argument that decriminalizing small amounts for personal use and regulating the trade would actually be a net plus for the treasury (combining a new tax revenue stream and lower police costs).
I do think, however, that the debate tends to gloss over the important point of social costs. Legalizing weed will require plenty of regulation, and the need for such regulations tends to get lost in all the talk about how awesome it will be to smoke ’em if you got ’em. Proponents of legalization love to point out all the damage that is done by alcohol, and they have a point.
But does anyone seriously deny that making weed legal and easier to obtain will obviously increase related social pathologies? We will have people driving high just as people drive drunk, for example, or workers getting high on the job, or, well, you get the idea.
Whether those costs will rise to those of alcohol, or whether they will be a wash, there will still be some necessary restrictions on production, marketing, and use. But how will they be enforced if pot remains easy to grow at home? Should growing your own be thought of as the same as making your own beer and wine (both legal) or distilling your own moonshine (which is not)? How if at all will age restrictions be enforced? Will health warnings be necessary? Will Taco Bell be able to handle the geometric spike in demand that will come when incidents of the munchies become epidemic?
I know, I know, thinking about rules and consequences is such a drag, man. But it helps to remember that decriminalization will just be the start of a new set of debates.