Column - Non-users of cannabis will play a role in its success
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 00:03
Drug abuse is a legitimate cause for concern for some in America.
But for most, it’s become one of the most misinformed, hyperbole-ridden issues discussed today – especially in regards to cannabis consumption.
Two weeks ago, the widely recognized televangelist Pat Robertson made some public remarks that many found to be intriguing, surprisingly progressive and logical – as the notorious conservative advocated that marijuana use be regulated in a way we treat "beverage alcohol," in an interview with The New York Times.
This means that he thinks anyone of legally provisioned age should be able to obtain it, not to treat a medical condition, but simply to use recreationally.
Robertson also noted that he has never used marijuana, and never intends to – thus representing an all-important demographic growing more and more supportive in the nation’s progression toward logical legislation regarding cannabis consumption.
Some though, like William J. Bennett, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under George H.W. Bush, were surprised by Robertson’s progression to a logical solution.
"Robertson’s arguments are wrong on each and every fact," spewed Bennett in a CNN op-ed contribution on Wednesday. "Why should we promote the legalization of a substance that makes our citizens less intelligent, less productive and less safe?"
The hypocrisy bleeds through the lines of his horrifically misguided attempt at illustrating marijuana activists as burned-out hippies or its users as degenerates slowly waiting to die a lonely, miserable death.
Bennett, another strict conservative, is, of course, readily accepting of the more traditional, "less productive" activities such as gambling, as The Washington Times has reported that Bennett has lost millions in high-stakes wagers.
Seriously, is that the leading argument from a former director of National Drug Control Policy? We can’t promote something that makes Americans less productive or less safe?
You mean like the productivity and safety that was flowing through college towns and cities across the country Saturday?
Unfortunately, individuals like Bennett even use this correlation ignorantly and completely ineffectively.
"To stay on alcohol for a moment," wrote Bennett, "There are about 79,000 alcohol-related deaths each year. The Center for Disease Control calculated that excessive drinking cost the United States $223.5 billion annually, and the government pays more than 60 percent of these health care costs. Is that really the model that Robertson would recommend for the betterment of society?"
Wow. Where do you even begin?
Maybe the all-important fact is that no single person in history has ever died from cannabis – ever. How Bennett finds it relevant to compare it to a widely-available drug in alcohol that kills nearly 80,000 people and costs the government hundreds of billions every year is just another example of this toxic misinformation and misdirection.
Nearly every other fiscal statistic or qualitative backing he provides throughout the rest of his article is used equally irrelevantly, in an attempt to demonize cannabis, instead of offering legitimate information about its potential risks. Bennett and others continue to purport the same inaccurate, irrelevant scare tactics – perpetuating the vicious cycle of ignorance.
He suggests that contrary to popular belief, America’s War on Drugs had been a radical success – pointing to plummeting cocaine and methamphetamine usage as proof. Bennett basically uses whatever correlations he can find to support his misdirected angst. He ignores other significant factors like the spread and acknowledgement of accurate information about "harder" drugs – the inherent dangers of overdoses, as well as debilitating mental and physical addiction becoming collectively accepted as common knowledge.
To me, Bennett not only represents how ignorant even the highest government officials – former or otherwise – still are on cannabis, but also how older-generations who grew up involuntarily subscribed to the widespread misinformation are more stubborn in appealing to the reason and legitimate information that is now available.
Fortunately, though, I think Bennett represents a small portion of the population who continue to remain this disillusioned today.
And while I don’t often look to televangelists for solutions to political or social dilemmas, I saw Robertson’s eventual persuasion on such a no-brainer issue like cannabis as a reflection of the positively evolving opinion of more individuals who don’t use marijuana and don’t intend to.
You don’t have to consume cannabis to support a rational solution to such a glaring and hypocritical social issue.
Bennett’s article, however, is a step back in developing this rational solution.
Although full-scale legalization isn’t necessarily the solution, at least making sure we abstain from nonsensical and inaccurate propaganda is going to be an integral step in continuing our progression to some form of reasonable decriminalization.