In his column of March 12, 2013, my beloved friend wrote on the issue of legalized marijuana in the state of Colorado. On his radio show, he justifiably bemoaned readers of his column who had written comments questioning his sanity and their relationship over this one issue despite years of being Prager groupies. I will not do any of that. But for only the second time in our long relationship, Mr. Prager, you are dead wrong on a topic … but I still love you.
We Baby Boomers grew up in a generation where marijuana made the jump from the dark corners of jazz clubs to mainstream culture. We were advised to stay away from the dangerous herb by silly movies like Reefer Madness. We were forewarned that marijuana was a gateway drug to things like cocaine and heroin (crystal meth was not topical then). Yet despite all these warnings, the use of marijuana spread and people were not seeing the ugly warnings come true.
Then President Nixon appointed a commission chaired by Raymond P. Shafer to look at the exploding use of illicit drugs in America. The commission came back with a simple conclusion – stop prosecuting the use of marijuana and employ other methods to dissuade people from partaking. This would free up resources to pursue dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine. That was 1972 and President Nixon told his commission to jump in a lake.
Forty years later we are still confronting the same issues. The field has changed due to new designer drugs and the in-vogue use of legal medications in illegal manners. Yet there is the old, standby marijuana exhibiting the same innocuous effects. The only difference is the partial legalization of its use across the country because of its proven medicinal benefits. And in the 40 years since Nixon blew the chance to advance the issue of drug use in our society, we found out marijuana is just as dangerous as The Shafer commission found it – which is not really.
First we must accept the fact that the ingesting of anything in excess can lead one to destroy their lives. And you can certainly find multiple examples of malingerers excessively using marijuana. The question in those cases becomes is the marijuana the cause or effect? This society has endured the widespread use of marijuana for almost 50 years and the instances of problems from use of marijuana are miniscule.