Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Why is Marijuana Illegal when Alcohol is Not?
It almost seems cyclical when the proposals come up for legalizing marijuana and it isn't just in this country, the world itself seems to question why it's not legal when alcohol is typically legal. You never see the same argument arise for cocaine or methamphetamine, with good reason! Legalizing an addictive drug just leads to trouble. I mean imagine if nicotine was legal? Oh wait...
Marijuana and alcohol have every similar effects. Both are impairing. Both can be harmful to your health, marijuana has similar effects on the lungs as tobacco and alcohol is known to damage the liver. So why is alcohol legal and marijuana is not?
prohibition. And we all know how successful that was. Alcohol was too fully enmeshed in our culture to be eradicated. Speakeasies were popular and people continued to drink though the health risks from homemade alcohol is always a bit higher than when it's made in nice clean regulated facilities. The interesting thing is what ultimately pushed the repeal was economic factors. The stock market fell, the Great depression started and people needed jobs. Prohibition was repealed and alcohol was once again legal to manufacture and tax.
Is it any wonder that economic downturns always lead to talks of legalizing marijuana?
Marihuana Act of 1937 which did nothing to criminalize it, but rather taxed those who dealt commercially with marijuana. In fact, the American Medical Association argued against the bill, not because they wanted to see harsher penalties, but because the bill did not exempt doctors who were prescribing marijuana for treatment purposes.
Eventually of course marijuana did become illegal, but there is more evidence that this was due to societal prejudice and competition with the paper industry who had more powerful lobbyists than it was to any scientific or health information.
I'm not saying whether or not it should be legal as that really is the point here. Besides which the argument is out there and repeated constantly. It's just an interesting thing to really examine why our laws are the way they are.