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Ted Barnes

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The legalization of Marijuana in America.

This is obviously not a new debate topic. I'm 24 years old and in my entire lifetime this topic has been in and out of the public eye. Ronald Reagan told Americans "Marijuana could be the most dangerous drug in this country today".

5 questions to help guide this topic.

1 - Medicinal marijuana over the past 10 years has become more and more accepted in more and more states. How is this affecting the legalization movement?

2 - Throughout the last 75 years, we have been bombarded with lies about the effects of marijuana on the human body. Why has this happened?

3 - There seems to be a split among the supporters of marijuana about whether we should decriminalize it or legalize, regulate, and tax it. If you support the use of marijuana, where do you stand? If you don't, give reason as to why you think the system should remain the same.

4 - In 2009, there were over 800,000 marijuana related arrests in the United states alone. That's almost 100 people per hour. That's about 3/4 of all the arrests drug-related. What would be the repercussions financially on our prison/jail/justice system if marijuana were to be legalized?

5 - The "War on Pot" waged by the US spends anywhere from 35-45 billion dollars annually on enforcing marijuana laws (This includes state and federal funds. These numbers vary in source and it is very hard to get a definitive number but nonetheless it is a LOT of doh). Would America's economy suffer more from legalization? Take into account the loss of useless prescription drugs, private jails, and anything else that would be directly affected by legalization.

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  • Apr 30 2011: Not sure if you guys have seen the Union: The Business Behind Getting High, but its a good one and not just your typical stoner mocumentary. It all boils down to being lied to about for over 50 years. It oes well beyond the 70s and 80s, I mean we are talking prohibition starting in the 30s and 40s in southern Texas where they criminalized it just so that had a right to throw Mexicans out of the country with no other grounds. The whole idea that pot is equivalent to scrambling your brain in a frying pan, haha, afraid not. The only actual study that ever showed significant brain loss is either the 40s or 50s where they actually had lab monkeys, who were strapped in a chair and then a gas mask was put on them where the pumped the equivalent of five of the strongest joints on the planet continuously through the mask. Um, hello, if i choke you so you don't get any oxygen your brain cells will die, because YOUR NOT GETTING OXYGEN lol. The idea that a plant that cultures spread across the earth for hundreds of thousands of years that is conventional in thousands of ways is dangerous is simply asenine. I think in all honesty, legalization will eventually happen, and I know in Maine they just met to talk about legalization. Like 65 percent of the state use/have used/know people directly who do/or don't really care either way about using pot. It's hard when you are fed bs your entire life to finally demand the truth, and how does the country admit they have been lying the whole time, they don't. They gradual reduce the laws and get rid of the prohibition which is exactly whats starting to happen.
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      Apr 30 2011: I have seen The Union and Grass is another good one too with Woody Harrelson narrating! I couldn't agree more, but what I wanted out of this debate I think was how we could get around the obvious financial implications of legalizing marijuana in a country that has a huge portion of the justice system and pharmaceutical companies tied up around the notion of keeping it illegal.
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    May 18 2011: A bit off topic but if anyone is interested in some of Carl Sagan's meanderings about his experiences with cannabis this is a fun link. He wrote this under the alias Mr X. Only after he was dead and safe from political backlash was he credited with this essay.

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    May 17 2011: As you may know Maine was one of the States to pass a medical marijuana law (http://www.maine.gov/legis/lawlib/medmarij.html) which may be a refrence for other states considering enactment. I haven't paid that much attention to it but as far as I know no isues, abuses, problems since enactment.
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      May 17 2011: the only issue is the DEA
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        May 18 2011: check out the link Tim..I believe in Maine you can apply for a license to grow medical marijuana and that you are allowed to grow a certain amount yourslf for medical purposes. for medical marijuana there were issues of product safety, safe handing & harvesting etc...presumably the license involves trainingin those practices.
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          May 18 2011: ya, unitl the DEA comes and shuts down whatever they want. got good ol' obama to thank. his camagian promise to stop raids was a HUGE misunderstanding, im sure.
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    Apr 30 2011: *continued
    This creates curiosity about those other substances and opens the gate to more experimentation. If marijuana could be purchased in a respectable way then it would no longer be a “gateway drug”.
    It is also a well known fact that the indigestion of thc does not cause problems such as alcohol causes, how many people are prescribed alcohol? As far as negative effects alcohol related injuries are staggering in numbers, marijuana’s are far far fewer, almost nill. People die of alcohol poisoning every year, also kidney failure due to alcohol, and all the crashes and violence that come from drunks. More people die each year from overdosing on advil then marijuana related deaths.
    There is another objection to marijuana that is understandable. Since thc stays in your system for as long as it does it is very hard to tell whether someone has just smoked twenty minutes ago or three days ago. This could affect things like workman’s comp and DUIs. Yet again there is a solution to this. The solution is to test for an enzyme in marijuana that the body breaks down naturally within an allotted amount of time. If that enzyme is in the body the person can be identified as intoxicated. There will have to be studies as to determine the length of intoxication, and the enzyme break down time. If marijuana does not already have an enzyme that would work for this cause then a strand could be engineered with an appropriate enzyme.
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    Apr 30 2011: I have mixed emotions about this. On one hand I see the potential gains in revenue and freedoms. There are those who truly believe in spiritual attributes to the plant, and therefore should not be persecuted for practicing those beliefs. On the other hand, I wonder about what the masses toking up would do to our society and future. If everyone starts smoking pot then will it be detrimental to our advancement as a nation and ultimately a species. When it comes down to it I support legalization for a plethora of reason. At the same time I hope that many people decide to remain sober.
    The marijuana prohibition was instated at the same time as the alcohol prohibition. Ten BILLION dollars a year, that is the amount that is being spent on upholding the prohibition. That means just decriminalizing marijuana without taxing it adds $10,000,000,000 every year to our budget. How many children could go to school, families be feed, or taxes be lowered for that amount? Then of course there would most likely be taxes like those on cigarettes and alcohol adding millions, if not billions, more to the black.
    In the news lately there have also been stories of a raising problem with Mexican drug cartels in this country. No one would buy the low grade marijuana from the cartels if they could get something that was fresh and grown in their own area. There would then be a shift in the supply and demand and the cartels would lose a great deal of interest here.
    One of the biggest arguments against marijuana is that it is a “gateway drug”. There is a simple explanation as to why marijuana is considered this and alcohol is not. That being, for alcohol one can go to a store and purchase it where as marijuana one must go to a drug dealer. When people are just starting to experiment with marijuana they are subjected to hearing of many other types of drugs. Along with people saying how great a time they had on those illicit drugs.
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      Jun 2 2011: There just may be a God, a slow, lazy, and childish one, but a God.
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      May 18 2011: In a weird way the fact that cannabis has medical value actually hampers it chances of becoming legal. Once the idea that one plant, that is easy to grow, can increase our well being, how long will it be before other plants are sort out for therapeutic properties. Most pharmaceutical lobbies only want to control this plant not legalize it. Selling THC in a pill is profitable, while letting people grow their own medicine open a door to the idea that people can have more control over their health and do not have to be dependent on pharmaceutical companies. Don't get me wrong, I do not wish to put pharmacist out of work, often they perform valuable services, but just balance them with medicinal gardens.
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    May 17 2011: I would like to see the use of marijuana decriminalized for social and tax reasons. I would also like to see the same happen for the other drugs except with one condition. That drug users identify themselves and receive their drugs and treatment from the medical profession without any threats of criminal repercussions against them. The way to sucess is to react with compassion not threats. If we treated people in this manner the problem of cartels, etc would be greatly minimized. After all we don't throw people in jail because they have cancer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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      May 17 2011: if i could get, say MDMA and LSD, from a professional, that would be amazing. the world would be safer for it for sure.
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    Apr 30 2011: http://www.ted.com/conversations/1827/who_thinks_it_s_time_for_ted_t.html

    Ted + Tim, try to keep it in one place! This is a legitimate issue, and should not be spread around, but focused on.

    This was the number one asked question to the president from internet surveys.
    (originally he laughed at it, and then was shunned for doing so by the public, next two talks about marijuana were very brief lol.)

    TED is a great place to bring up this issue, keep it orderly. Not for me, but for the actual " This s*** just does not make no sense and let's fix it" movement.
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    Apr 29 2011: http://www.wearepowershift.org/

    A green organization of youth. lol, not for pot but just something people should check out


    This is the prop 19 that would of made pot = alcohol in consumption.

    Pot should be legalized so those who profit from illegal actions will have less to no power. Remember money = power.

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      Apr 29 2011: I agree. I think it should be legalized for a lot of different reasons.
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    Apr 29 2011: I don't know about all drugs man that is a stretch. That has proven detrimental to other countries who have tried it and I don't think it would bode well here in America either. Read the outlining questions meant to guide the debate though, and base answers on that.
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      Apr 29 2011: proven where? portugal? http://thinkoutsidethecage2.blogspot.com/2010/11/5-years-later-portugals-drug.html

      i believe prohibition is restricting of a basic human right, and the majority of harm done to the public from drug use stems from prohibition itself, and the outpour of lies spread out into the world in the 70's/80's about drugs.
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        Apr 29 2011: I will admit Portugal had limited success with their decriminalization programs. They still imprison the dealers though and the only real difference they made in policy was they offer a lot more help to addicts via the "Dissuasion Commission". There are plenty of instances such as Great Britain, Netherlands, and Switzerland, where the policies did nothing but exasperate the already threatening hard drug situation. But regardless of any of that, I would like to keep the discussion to the topic at hand which is the legalization of marijuana in the United States.
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        Apr 29 2011: I think it should legalized and taxed. I think that would bring in more than enough revenue to offset the potential losses. Screw the pharmaceutical companies and the sharks that run these private jails. Screw the growers. I think it comes down to the people and the largest cash crop in the world. I think it could bring it some much needed money into our economy. Imagine all the employment options! In short, I think the positives way outweigh the negatives. I also believe if it were legal, it would lower the availability of marijuana to underage children.
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        Apr 29 2011: I mean look B.C. or all of Canada for that matter. While it has remained illegal there, that is mainly because of our government's empty threats of damaging trade. If you go to Canada, it is a whole different tune. It has brought enormous amounts of revenue to their economy and they don't hardly enforce any of their marijuana laws.

        In fact, in 2006 the Prime Minister said he was going to legalize it completely in Canada and George Bush Jr. and company had a hissy fit. They threatened to completely shut down the borders and cut off trade with Canada even though they never would. Canada has way too much to offer in that respect. Nevertheless, the influence on the Prime Minister was enough for him to reverse his position.
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          Apr 29 2011: i love canada lol. all of those are good points, and i agree, in the reality we are in, this is the best course of action. we just scolded canada for there free clean needle and drug use facility in cananda, even though its litterally doing tons of good. in my head tho, in tim's land, i would rather have weed just deciminalised, becuase frankly i do not think we have the right to tax a abundant resource. just me though. lol
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        Apr 29 2011: Not a bad argument except, and I hate to say this, we need those taxes to help offset the financial losses of legalizing it. The only realistic way our dream of legal pot will ever come true is if we can convince the systems of power they have a lot of profit to gain from it.
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          Apr 29 2011: oh i know, its true, it would be a great safe way to create revenue and jobs! plus all the hemp we could use to sell!
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    Apr 29 2011: what will happen is legalization of weed and it will be taxed heavily. what i would like to see happen is decriminalization of all drugs. that is me though.