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Published: Friday, December 14, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Plant demonized by vested interests

Laws from an era that make no sense should be reconsidered.
There seems to be a lot of concern regarding the deregulation of marijuana in Washington state. Like the Mayans, modern-day doomsday prophets claim to see dark clouds on the horizon.
What these people fail to take into consideration is the era during which the laws regarding marijuana were drafted. This was an era where my grandfather came back from fighting in the pacific theater during World War II to see signs in windows saying "Irish need not apply" or "Christians only." Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps, and mental health-care professionals routinely performed full frontal lobotomies and administered electroconvulsive therapy for questionable reasons.
The reasons behind the criminalization of marijuana were similarly questionable. A combination of a smear campaign by timber barons aimed at making marijuana's pulp and fiber producing cousin hemp illegal to manufacture, and the demonizing of minority users by ultra-conservative left wing religious zealots has lead to a grotesque caricature of marijuana lurking in the dark corners of America's collective psyche. Modern objective studies of the effects of marijuana have shown the adverse side effects are minor, the active constituent chemicals are not physically addictive, and in fact many of the chemical compounds are dramatically safer than existing prescription alternatives.
If we are to truly to be a nation with liberty and justice for all, we must use objective metrics when determining what the American citizen should and should not be allowed to do. We need to stop and think if the minor adverse effects of marijuana usage are so detrimental to the individual and to society as a whole that we can justify spending several billion dollars a year on enforcement of existing marijuana regulation, and continue to adversely impact the lives of users by treating them like pariahs and criminals.
Michael Collins
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Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor:

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