Editorial: New pot laws not enough


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

The Iowa Senate, in a move that could be gauged as courageous only by the dreadfully low standards of Iowa’s (or for that matter, America’s) politics, passed a bill that decriminalized cannabis oil for use in the treatment of epilepsy.

Reading the quotes from state legislators explaining their decision could be compiled as a primer for why people hate politicians. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, who eventually voted to support the legislation, said it was a “very hard vote for him.” Sen. Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, expressed concerned for children with epilepsy who could be helped by the drug but was worried that the law could lead to the horrible crime of giving pot to teenagers.

First of all, voting for this bill should not have been difficult in any way, shape, or form. Not when 81 percent of Iowans support the legalization of medical marijuana in all circumstances. To say otherwise is to engage in an exercise of self-flattery that is odious even by the standards of politicians. 

However, we believe that the whole practice of the legalization of medical marijuana is moot when the fact remains that the only acceptable and practical attitude that governments should take toward marijuana is complete legalization for both recreational and medicinal use.

While the case for marijuana legalization has been hashed out so many times by annoying undergraduates to the point of cliché, it does not mean the rationale is any less compelling. While the claim that marijuana has no adverse health effects is certainly suspect (in fact, a recent study published by the American Heart Association shows that marijuana use may be linked to heart problems), marijuana has been shown to be less detrimental than alcohol and is certainly less addictive than heroin, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, and even caffeine.

However, more convincing than the somewhat unclear nature of marijuana’s health effects has been the egregious damage that the War on Drugs has inflicted on the body politic of American society: the skyrocketing costs of fighting an unwinnable war on drug kingpins, amounting to around $40 billion a year, the country’s mounting incarceration rate driven by drug arrests on nonviolent offenders (there are now more people in U.S. prisons than in Stalin’s gulags), or the destruction of the socio-political stability of Latin American countries whose criminals have used the riches made off U.S. drug demands to poison their countries’ infrastructure through political corruption.

Not to mention the degradation of the American legal system, whose enforcement of unenforceable laws has only led to a corrupt, bifurcated system of justice that, naturally considering the history of American racial politics, locks up black and Latino drug offenders at a higher rate than their white counterparts. This legal messis especially true in Iowa, where the 8-1 black to white incarceration disparity is the highest in the country.

At every level, the prohibition of marijuana that sits at the center of Drug War policy has simply debased every aspect of American political and legal culture. And yet Iowa senators are lamenting how hard it is for them to vote on an extremely mild liberalization of the state’s drug laws. If these senators actually wanted to do make a difficult decision, they would ultimately legalize recreational marijuana despite its unpopularity (55 percent of Iowans oppose this) and do the moral thing of ending the madness of prohibition.

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.