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Martin Odber

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Why is marijuana illegal?

Marijuana WHY is it illegal?

Some say "It's a gateway drug to hard drugs because when people buy this drug off dealers they are exposed to hard drugs" If this were the reasoning legalizing marijuana would mean people wouldn't need to go to dealers who may hook them on hard drugs so we'd be "closing the gate" between soft and hard drugs.

Some say "Marijuana can kill you if you smoke it." So far there appear to be 0 recorded deaths from any kind of overdose.

Some say "Marijuana can give you mad cow disease" So far not only does it not do that but its showing to have MANY positive medical affects including but not limited to fighting cancer.

Some say "the legal costs to taxpayers to keep marijuana illegal are beyond staggering" So far this is absolutely correct.

Our debate is to determine exactly what justifies the significant societal costs of marijuana being illegal on any level at all.


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    Nov 18 2013: part of the problem with drugs and alcohol is that we have automobiles and heavy machinery, and people maybe can't operate them as well when narcotized. In a more primitive society without autos and heavy tools, there might not be as much censure on drugs and alcohol, for example, some Indians used peyote as a sacrament?
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      Nov 26 2013: Greg.. turkey contains tryptophan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan which makes people drowsy.. and being made drowsy chemically can definitely impair ones ability to operate machinery wouldn't you say? Yet we don't drag you to jail for enjoying a turkey.

      I can name a long long list of legal things that could interfere with use of operating heavy machinery or driving that are not illegal.

      I'm pretty sure that when marijuana becomes decriminalized we will have laws in place to discourage people from using it and driving operating heavy machinery much the same as we do with alcohol .

      In my opinion this single aspect does not justify cannabis being illegal and criminal.

      Do you really believe it should be? Why?
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        Nov 27 2013: well, Martin, someone should not operate a car, or heavy machinery, if they are drowsy, that is against the law, and if a police officer sees a person doing driving dangerously, pulls the person over, and sees that the person is drowsy, the officer will be justified in forcing the person to stop driving and to confiscate the car. I have not observed that people become drowsy after consuming turkey to where it would impair their driving, so I would not think the effect you are talking about is significant. I would imagine my statement would apply to your list of other things.

        It is a good question as to why consuming a little alcohol is okay, but as far as I know, even consuming just a little marijuana is not, or maybe that is not true, I think the state of Washington may have changed that here in the United States. I can only think that alcohol is more attractive to people than marijuana and thus it is harder to prohibit. The authorities tried to prohibit it here in the United States, but the effort was a failure.

        Thus far I am sticking to my opinion, that, yes, marijuana should be illegal because it could interfere with people driving or operating heavy machinery. In fact, if I could, I would make alcohol illegal for the same reason, but, as I say, the U.S. tried that in the 1920's, and it was a failure. But perhaps you have a counter-argument that is more powerful than my argument.
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          Nov 27 2013: Greg,

          Suppose we both agree that it should be illegal for people to use marijuana and drive or operate heavy machinery. What about people who are NOT driving or using heavy machinery including those who do not possess a license or vehicle and have no intention of every driving or operating heavy machinery?

          What sound reason should prevent them from indulging in your opinion?
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        Nov 27 2013: thank you, Martin, well, but how do we know they won't drive, the law is outlawing situations that might happen. Or they might go for a walk and get hit by a car because the intoxicant made them less careful. So it is somewhat for their own protection.

        But if you had a society without the cars and machines, I would see no harm in people using hallucinogens and psychedelics, as they are fun and open your mind, although even there you have to have a balance, you don't want people descending into opium addiction and not pulling their weight productivity-wise. Also, sometimes intoxicants play a role in crime, sometimes criminals are high when they commit crimes, even in primitive societies. So there are some problems with them across the board.

        Do you use marijuana, Martin? What do you get out of it? What's wrong with sobriety, is life not satisfying when you're sober?
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          Nov 27 2013: Greg,

          Do you seriously embrace a world in which anything that can possibly impact negatively must be totally and absolutely ruled out?

          You do realize that we'd better rule out water, so people don't drown or commit crimes eh?

          I mean I'm pretty sure that it can be scientifically proven that any human being who has ever committed a crime, or dangerously operated a motor vehicle has drank water!

          What I am suggesting is that I do not for a second believe the arguments given remotely justify the rationalization of marijuana being illegal.

          As for the last part of your reply, my or your or anyone's personal life or habits are not under scrutiny here and to attempt to make it so means you are running out of pseudo plausible arguments and resorting to the old "bait and switch."

          However Greg, we won't be baited and switched to personal attacks. Lets remain on topic.

          The fact that someone "may" do something that could interfere with driving or operating heavy machinery does not justify barring an entire nation from its use under all conditions. That is unrealistic in the extreme.

          Do you have any other reasons you can think of that might justify marijuana being illegal?
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        Nov 27 2013: well, we certainly have rules about the use of water, Martin. For instance, I expect there are laws that a public pool must have a lifeguard.

        I would also say it's a question of degree, and also what are the rewards versus the consequences. Apparently our society has decided that the dangers of marijuana are sufficient, and the rewards insufficient, to legalize it.

        I wasn't trying to put your personal life "under scrutiny," or really even making an "argument." Probably I was just wondering what prompted the conversation, it seems likely that someone who starts this kind of conversation uses it, and is in an excellent position, or the best position, to say why it is beneficial, to say what is wrong with just being sober.

        I guess you'd have to look at what the consequences will be if you legalize marijuana for an entire nation. How many more traffic accidents a week across the country, ten? Times 52 weeks in a year, 520? How many extra fatalities? 50 a year? I don't know. But it would be tragic for the people affected, and tragedies do ripple across whole societies.

        It might be good to ask the authorities why they have outlawed marijuana. Maybe there are reasons different from what I'm stating. Now are there countries that have legalized it, why did their authorities decide differently? Perhaps more people in those countries want to smoke it?

        You can call them pseudo arguments but I'm not convinced yet by what you're saying.
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          Nov 27 2013: Greg, my stake is in thinking a democratic country should have laws that are just and reflect the values and good of its people.

          Marijuana being illegal is a HUGE protruding middle finger to the face of logic and does no good to the people of a nation.

          As much as I have ever managed to research on my own NO JUST REASON comes to surface that can possibly justify its criminalized state aside from some big company feared its competition to their product and acted to have it criminalized.

          Logic tells me in a democratic society a land where personal freedom is upheld surely that cannot be the sole reason. That somehow, somewhere, there is some real justification for the tremendous financial burden criminalizing marijuana places on society, and the tremendous personal hardships it places on affected individuals who are otherwise law abiding citizens.

          Unable to find any such valid reasoning, I have reached out and brought it to the TED community, and so far.. it seems that .. there is no valid reason except the government flipping taxpayers the bird and saying because we say so that's why!
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        Nov 27 2013: thanks, martin. Well, first of all, I have used it myself. I enjoyed it, and learned from it. But now I just enjoy sobriety, when it comes to marijuana, been there, done that.

        Second of all, judging by how it affected me, I would not want to think that a lot of people are driving under its influence, any more than I want people to drive under the influence of alcohol. I think it impairs driving, and a car, as they say, is a lethal weapon.

        I am suspicious of the corporation argument. If marijuana were legal, wouldn't corporations make money from it, too? I think the reason it has been more successfully outlawed than alcohol was is, for whatever reason, there just isn't as strong a demand for it. I know I've taken a couple of bad marijuana trips, whereas alcohol is more consistent, maybe that's why people don't mind marijuana being outlawed but do demand alcohol?

        I tend to believe people and groups do things for good reasons, thus I don't think it's just the government flipping us the bird. I've said why I support the laws, and perhaps my reasons are the reasons why the government made the laws. I think this would be easy to investigate, you could go to your local law library and read the arguments that occurred when the government decided to make this law. In my hometown I looked into why the city government made a certain law, and I discovered that before the city council voted, they employed researchers to look into the subject and marshal the arguments for and against. There is a lot of thought underlying laws.

        Still, what is wrong with sobriety?
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          Nov 27 2013: Greg,

          I myself enjoy sobriety quite a bit at the moment.
          However, I do not enjoy illogic or oppression.
          While I may not always exercise every choice, I am a firm believer in having them unless there is sound reason not to.

          As for why marijuana was made illegal I understand that pharmaceutical companies wanted it to be thought of as poison. Please note that there are 0 recorded deaths due to marijuana that I have ever been able to locate so where they got off calling it a "poison" you tell us. I suspect they had manufactured medications that they wanted to replace marijuana products with.

          Also, just because I may not be using it at the moment, doesn't mean that I"m going to agree to blindly allow fellow citizens to be incarcerated over it, let alone pour billions of taxpayer dollars into it so some pharmaceutical can make money, the logics just not there.

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        Nov 28 2013: Well, I think it's an interesting question whether marijuana is a poison. I am trying to imagine how I might feel if I used marijuana frequently, I think I might be a bit slower and duller, so it might be slightly, or somewhat, poisonous.

        In general, Martin, would you agree that we want people to use as few intoxicants as possible? Probably all intoxication has some bad health effects, physical and/or psychological. Actually, the United States government has been pretty consistent in trying to discourage intoxication, after all, they did enact Prohibition, where they banned alcohol. And they are severely controlling and limiting tobacco use. Some of these prohibitions have been more successful than others. The prohibition against alcohol did not work, I guess so many people want alcohol that it can't be prohibited. On the other hand, it must be true that not so many want marijuana, so the prohibitions against marijuana have been somewhat effective. For instance, I believe in California voters voted to keep some illegality on marijuana. That suggests that most people don't strongly want marijuana and are content with it being illegal, for the moment, anyway. But in general there have been consistent efforts to discourage all kinds of intoxication, not just marijuana.

        Alcohol may be a slightly more sociable drug than marijuana. I can imagine that alcohol served at a party greases the skids of sociability, helps ease conversation, whereas marijuana may not have the same effect, people may retire to their corner to enjoy their visions, so that may help explain why alcohol has more support.

        It seems worth saying that even though alcohol is "legal," it's a very controlled and limited "legality." We also spend some money controlling alcohol, for instance one of the police's jobs is to pull over and possibly arrest and process people they think are DUI.
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        Nov 28 2013: I have maintained, Martin, that one justification for prohibiting marijuana is that it reduces injuries and fatalities from traffic accidents. Someone could counter-argue that in another way it increases injuries and fatalities, in the sense that because it is illegal the police have to fight it and occasionally an officer gets hurt or killed. And we hear about criminals killing each other over it. I would say in my mind it seems worse for an innocent person to die because they got hit by a car driven by a person high on marijuana than for a policeman to die fighting marijuana trade. Would you agree with me there? I guess it's because the policeman has psychologically prepared himself for death, it comes with the territory of his job, whereas an innocent driver has not prepared himself as much, hence it is more traumatizing.
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          Nov 28 2013: Greg, I can appreciate your perspective. I remember hearing in a movie once a line that stuck with me "it's not that we die that counts, we all die. It's how we live."

          That said quality of life matters and so freedoms matter. The line between societal constraints and personal freedoms needs to be drawn ONLY at the point where personal liberties infringe on someone else's.

          To directly consider your point a life is a life. That peace officer no doubt has a family, friends, people who love him or her and care. "No man is an island" as they say. They matter, their lives matter, just as much as yours or mine or anyone else's does.

          I cannot fail to notice that you return again and again to a single line of reasoning. A person who is intoxicated on a substance endangering anothers life because they are driving. Has this been a personal experience that one perspective seems to preoccupy your reasoning?

          Marijuana being legal, decriminalized, or illegal ..no scenario means 0 % will be driving. To reduce drivers under the influence requires technology, detection, education, consequences and rehabilitation far more than marijuana being illegal. In fact if I had to guess I'd think the law working AGAINST consumers, would get less adherence and support than the law working WITH consumers.

          Sidenote? I found your Masai diet of strictly milk and meat interesting but limited. It would lack a full range of nutrients for one. Myself, I'm an omnivore.
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        Nov 29 2013: well, Martin, if you buy my argument that drivers high on marijuana might hit other people more often in their cars, then you would have to believe that giving people freedom to smoke marijuana would impinge on other people's lives, in the sense that they might be hurt or killed by the person who is high. I return to this argument because it seems like the strongest and most impactful. I'm sure you feel sad when you read in a paper that a person, or multiple persons, were hit and killed by a driver under the influence of alcohol. If you legalize marijuana, I'm afraid you would read more stories like this, except it would be drivers under the influence of marijuana.

        Another thing is that with more driving under marijuana, you would have more near misses in driving additionally to accidents. Have you ever almost been hit by a car? That's not pleasant psychologically either, is it?

        Yes, it is bad when a peace officer dies. But we can also say that a peace officer has more chance of not dying in an encounter with an intoxicated person, in other words, an ordinary person struck by an intoxicated driver doesn't have the training to save themselves, whereas a peace officer fighting marijuana trade has training, weaponry, communications devices, bulletproof vests, fellow officer support, and so on.

        But it might be smart to examine the statistics, how many people are killed or injured now fighting marijuana, versus how many many additionally would be if you legalized it. I think you would have to somehow factor in the "near miss" factor I cite above, though, too, because quality of life would go down if there were more "near misses" when driving.

        It would be nice if education, etc. caused people who want to be intoxicated to be safe about it. It doesn't seem like that has been the case with alcohol, in spite of education, we still have plenty of DUI's.
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        Nov 29 2013: yes, I tried to start a conversation about my diet, but TED said it was a more of a "testimonial" than a conversation, so rejected.

        I have been living almost 100% on skim milk for five years. Every day I drink about two gallons of organic skim milk, plus a little pure cream here and there, and hardly eat or drink anything else. For me it has been great, among other things I easily maintain at 165 pounds, the middle of normal on the BMI for my height, six feet, two inches.

        I started doing it because my eyes were bothering me, and the eye doctor's solutions were not satisfactory. When I return to solid food now, my eyes hurt. When I go back to milk, they feel good, partly I think because milk is easier for the body to process and use than solid food. I have heard people say they think the diet is missing certain nutrients, my response is that I have been living on this diet for five years, and I have seen only benefits, no ill results from lack of nutrients, and I don't think my body is too different from other people's.

        If you feel good as an omnivore, there's probably no reason to change.

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