Monday, February 02, 2009

Michael Phelps and Keeping Our Illusions about Marijuana

Recently a picture of Michael Phelps taking a bong hit has been circulating around the Internet. This doesn't bother me in the least. What bothers me is how he was forced to publicly admit his "wrongdoing". I am sick how American society can't stand the idea of successful people responsibly using marijuana recreationally (at least outside the world of entertainment). I think Phelps's forced apology is an example of America enforcing the myth that you have to be weed free to be successful. I know that there are college professors, professional athletes, and small business owners who smoke marijuana without negative effects to their livelihood.

The research on marijuana supports the idea that it is relatively harmless compared to alcohol, tobacco, and hard drugs. Virtually all of the lab studies "demonstrating" how harmful marijuana lack any sort of ecologlical validity. It's not to say marijuana is completely harmless, but that the level of harm it causes does not warrent keeping it illegal. Also, the claim that marijuana is a gateway drug has been effectively debunked. Even the history of marijuana criminalization shows how ludicris the war against weed has always been.

The poor economic state of the US provides a new opportunity to push for legalization and regulation as a replacement for criminalizing marijauana. Marijuana legalization would reduce the prison costs and create new tax revenue and jobs. Sounds like something we need right now.

We should not force our modern day heros to apologize for smoking a relatively harmless plant, but we should use this as an opportunity to lose the illusions that harm our society.

UPDATE: Tony Newman wrote about the incident over at the Huffington Post

I've been inactive lately, but I feel like ranting about a bunch of shit, so I'll be posting a few more posts that I'm working on over the next couple of weeks. If I have signs of any readership, this could become a (semi) regular thing again