By Reggie Roberson
There seems to be a strong sentiment in this country to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes or general use. This question is not as simple as people think. The proponents will argue it is safer than alcohol, not addicting, and could significantly raise tax revenues. I can’t argue with any of those claims on the surface, but there are deeper issues involved.
Many employers mandate drug testing to help control insurance costs across the board. In many cases, if you are involved in a company accident that involves a workmen’s compensation claim being filed or if there is damage to property, a drug and alcohol test is required by company policy. A test for alcohol will give you a level of the alcohol in your system on the spot. Common tests for marijuana will just reveal the toxins in your system, and they stay for 30 days.
How does an employer know someone on the job wasn’t smoking weed? Besides a smell test of the person, which probably wouldn’t stand up in court, there would be no way of determining if the person smoked 10 minutes ago or two weeks ago without a more expensive test. Do employers want or need people smoking weed on the job? Clearly not.
By the way, can an employer tolerate a person who smells like marijuana in his work environment even if he/she were smoking it on the way to work?
What if American farmers converted hundreds of thousands of acres used for the food supply to the growth of legal marijuana? The world food supply is short already, and that could have devastating consequences on an already-stressed supply chain.
What would legalizing marijuana do to the economies of Mexico and the countries in South America? Would that drive more immigration problems to the United States if jobs were eliminated? What about the economy of the United States? Billions of dollars are spent in our economy from the illegal trade of drugs, and our economy may be crushed if it all stopped immediately. This is why I feel the government is not serious about “the war on drugs.”
Would the jails be emptied of anyone who was convicted in the past for marijuana issues? Would the current offenders be in jail (like purgatory for those Catholics who ate meat on Fridays decades ago) to serve out their sentences even though the activity is now legal? What if you grew marijuana on your property and distributed it without the proper tax being collected? There still would be an illegal subculture with an advantage of lower-cost weed that, of course, would outsell the “taxed” weed. Wouldn’t the supply from other countries just get cheaper?
The more you travel down the road of legalizing marijuana the more questions arise and the more troubling the answers become. I cannot support legalizing marijuana and do not support the Californians and others skirting the laws by making it available for medical purposes. Instead, I propose to solve the problem by education and accountability.
Many employers have drug testing, and I applaud that, but we need to take it a step further and apply these tests to people who are on any entitlement programs. The only way we stop the drug use is by holding people responsible. Just making it legal makes no sense because all it does it make the problems worse in our society.
If the hippies want to sit around and play video games all day and smoke weed, have at it, but don’t make that my problem. Unfortunately, it already is a problem in this country, and we can’t make it bigger.
We need to stop this talk of legalizing marijuana immediately, and we need to stop the liberals from forwarding this discussion. The legalization process seems to have tracks and needs to be stopped.
Reggie Roberson can be reached at email@example.com.
From the Nov. 3-9, 2010 issue