Legalizing Marijuana: A Heaping Pot of Hypocrisy
The push from liberals to legalize recreational marijuana is a smashing success. Full steam ahead, carefree and without looking back, states and cities controlled by Democrats are on a high, stoned with excitement as they celebrate the legalization of recreational pot in their jurisdictions. From Washington to Vermont, California to Maine, Nevada to Michigan, Oregon to Massachusetts, Hawaii to Alaska and Colorado, and soon New Jersey and many other states and cities, progressives are gloating about their accomplishment.
Let's take a closer look as liberals blindly jump aboard the marijuana bandwagon and not a word of concern is to be heard.
Many of those who have lobbied for the legalization of marijuana have employed a racial argument, claiming that too many minorities are incarcerated for illegal marijuana possession and use. My response is, so what? Since when did the fact that a certain group has broken the law render that law wrong and subject to being rescinded?
Proponents of legalizing pot also argue that even when the number of marijuana-related 911 calls about minorities and whites is equal, the percentage of minorities arrested for marijuana is many times higher than the percentage of whites arrested for marijuana, and it is therefore time to do away with the "discriminatory" marijuana laws. Again, so what? If there is an unfair disparity, let the police enforce the law and arrest an equal number of whites for marijuana. To conclude that racial inequality should result in doing away with the law lacks all sense of reason and is downright outrageous!
It is interesting that those advocating for the legalization of recreational marijuana seem to be living in a cloud, oblivious to the history of marijuana laws and the serious health and safety concerns.
Since the early 20th century, the majority of countries in the world have enacted laws against marijuana, proscribing the cultivation and sale of cannabis, the source plant of marijuana. In the U.S., going back 110 years, cannabis was deemed illegal in numerous states as a poison, a habit-forming substance, and a narcotic. This was followed by decades of state and federal laws criminalizing cannabis and marijuana use and sale, similar to other illegal drugs. The legislative history of these laws points to the hazardous and mind-altering effects of cannabis and marijuana.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration documents:
- About 1 in 6 people who start smoking marijuana in their teens will become addicted.
- Smoking marijuana interferes with learning and memory, increasing the risk of poor grades and dropping out of school. Research shows it can lower your I.Q. if you smoke it regularly in your teen years.
- Marijuana affects certain skills required for driving — reaction time, alertness, concentration, and coordination. According to a national survey, more than one in eight high school seniors admitted driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks before the survey.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse further addresses the effects of marijuana, enumerating:
- changes in mood
- impaired body movement
- difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- impaired memory
- hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
- delusions (when taken in high doses)
- psychosis (when taken in high doses)
The NIDA further writes:
Marijuana also affects brain development. Researchers are still studying how long marijuana's effects last and whether some changes may be permanent.
Please see this NIDA document, which spells out many of the serious health effects of marijuana use:
- Breathing problems. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and people who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco.
- Increased heart rate. Marijuana raises heart rate for up to three hours after smoking. This effect may increase the chance of heart attack.
- Problems with child development during and after pregnancy. Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight and increased risk of both brain and behavioral problems in babies.
- Intense nausea and vomiting. Regular, long-term marijuana use can lead some people to develop Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. This causes users to experience regular cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, sometimes requiring emergency medical attention.
- Temporary hallucinations.
- Temporary paranoia.
- Worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens.
And the CDC warns:
Smoked cannabis has many of the same cancer-causing substances as smoked tobacco. Due to the risks it poses to lung health, experts strongly caution against smoking cannabis and tobacco products.
It is beyond hypocritical that the same liberals who are at war with the tobacco and drug industries have mindlessly joined — and have actually become — the most powerful marijuana lobby in the United States. Progressive politicians advocate for legalizing recreational marijuana, willfully oblivious to all health and societal concerns. And of course, although it is not politically correct to say so, it is known that the country's minority populations will suffer the most by the pot liberalization drive, yet again bearing the brunt of counterproductive progressive policies.
Why in the world has the Left gone bonkers in its pursuit to legalize recreational marijuana? It is obviously not in the best interest of anyone, except for cannabis farmers, and liberals are traditionally not friends of the farming industry. What is going on?
The answer points to an insatiable quest for a permissive society intoxicated with pleasure and unbounded, instant gratification of the mind and flesh. Good values, hard work, and self-discipline have become four-letter words, and they are put down and delegitimized by the contrived cards of racism and infringement on human rights. This is the same warped, progressive mindset that declares that it is acceptable and good to murder babies (i.e., abortion at will, even when the fetus poses no physical risk to the mother), as such practice — which frees people of the burden of children — is somehow justified as a health concern and an inalienable right of the mother.
Liberal society's pursuit of unbridled indulgence and absolution from responsibility is showcased by the marijuana debate, as what is proven to pose substantial health and safety risks to users and third parties is brainlessly legalized by the same people who claim to be most interested in protecting society. It is not at all different from a conservationist lobbying for the right to light forest fires and to obliterate natural habitats. The hypocrisy stares us in the face, while its advocates push forward without addressing any of the very real concerns.
As an Orthodox Jew, I am compelled by the approach of the Purim holiday to draw a correlation between the biblical story of Esther and modern events. As explained by a great rabbinic sage quoted in my previous article on this subject, one of the lessons of Purim is how a liberal society that seeks unbounded self-gratification gives way to a tyranny. Such transpired in the dominion of Persia's King Ahasuerus, in which an excessively permissive society was easily overtaken by a maniacal despot. Only through a return to divine morality can goodness be restored.
Avrohom Gordimer is chairman of the Rabbinic Circle at Coalition for Jewish Values, a public policy institute reflecting traditional Jewish thought. He serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine; is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website; and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News, Yated Ne'eman, and a host of other publications. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar, and he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based on Manhattan.