The Super Bowl isn’t until this coming Sunday, but the longsuffering Kansas City Chiefs’ fans (of whom I am one) are already looking forward to next season. With a new coach (Andy Reid) and a new general manager (John Dorsey), Chiefs’ fans are trying to forget the past year by anticipating better things this fall.
But as terrible as the past season was on the field, it doesn’t match the tragedy last month of the murder-suicide by Jovan Belcher, the Chiefs’ player who killed his domestic partner and mother of his young daughter and then, a few hours later, killed himself in the presence of people high up in the Chiefs’ organization.
That tragedy spurred some public media commentators to write about the need for more stringent gun control. At the same time, others linked that tragic act of violence to alcohol. And, sure enough, when the autopsy report was released earlier this month, Belcher was found to have been legally drunk at the time of his death.
I have already written this month about the high number of murders caused by guns and the high number of deaths caused by drunk drivers. But alcohol is also linked to many of those murders as well. So, again, in order to save lives, there surely needs to be greater control of, or at least more responsible use of, both guns and alcohol.
At the present time, some politicians, beginning with the President, are making a concerted effort to pass meaningful control gun legislation, or at the very least to increase gun safety. But in spite of all the bad results that stem from drinking alcohol, as far as I know there is no new legislation about that problem being considered at all.
But what about marijuana? As most of you know, last November two states (Colorado and Washington) voted to make the recreational use of marijuana legal. (The medicinal use of marijuana had previously been legal in 18 states.) What should we think about such a change in public policy?
Let me be clear: I have never tried marijuana, and don’t intend to, legal or not. But it is my considered opinion that if alcohol is accepted by society as a legal drug, which it has been since 1933, then probably marijuana should be too. (That is certainly not true for meth, cocaine, heroin and other “hard drugs.”)
Marijuana does not seem to be as harmful as alcohol, and it is not as addictive as either alcohol or tobacco. In fact, the effects of marijuana may be far less detrimental to individuals and society than the effects of drinking alcohol or of smoking tobacco.
While certainly there should be laws against the use of marijuana before driving, the evidence seems to show that the rate of marijuana use to traffic accidents is far lower than the rate of drinking to traffic accidents. And there is a much lower rate of violent crimes related to marijuana than to alcohol.
In addition, decriminalizing marijuana would not only keep many young (and some older) people in the nation from becoming felons, it would also shift a tremendous amount of money from illicit drug merchants to tax revenues.
At any rate, I find it highly hypocritical for people who freely drink alcohol to be strongly opposed to the legalization of marijuana. While I would prefer for them both to be illegal, in reality probably they both should be legal.