Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why You Should Love Mary Jane and Be Outraged About Alexandria

I probably shouldn’t share this again at “What’s the Diehl?” – prospective clients and employers might stumble upon this blog – but I can’t help it. I support the legalization of marijuana and think you should too.

Why am I disclosing this again now? (I’ve written about the ganja before; see “Just Say No to Listening to the People,” October 12, 2011; “Let’s Par-tay!,” January 9, 2012; or “What I’ve Learned in 50 Years,” March 15, 2012.) It seems like dope is in the news a lot lately.

First, a group known as the Coalition for a Safer Lansing just submitted more than 6,400 signatures in support of a proposal to legalize the possession, sale and use of up to an ounce of marijuana. If 4,200 of these are certified by the city clerk, it’ll appear on the ballot this November. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, about whom I’ve never been crazy but with whom I agree on this issue, has already announced his support of the initiative.

I lived in Lansing from 1983 until 2009, when I officially gave up my downtown apartment and moved in with Anita and the kids in a southern suburb. You couldn’t have collected your signatures a little sooner, Coalition for a Safer Lansing?

Alexandria Hill
Second, two-year-old Alexandria Hill was removed from her home in Round Rock, Texas, 15 miles north of Austin, last November because her parents had a habit of smoking dope after putting her to bed. She was placed in not one but two abusive foster homes by a private agency contracted by Children’s Protective Services – her dad, Joshua, would notice bruises on her during visitation – and was rushed to a hospital last week with severe head injuries. After 48 hours in a coma, she was taken off of life support and died. (Her foster mother was arrested and charged with murder.)

Let that sink in for a second. Alexandria was stolen from her parents because they would fire up a joint after she was asleep – not because they abused, neglected or molested her or she was sickly or malnourished but because they smoked grass after she was tucked safely in her crib. And now this beautiful child is a statistic, a manila file, a memory, a photo in a frame on her grieving parents’ mantel.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta

If this doesn’t disturb you, you’re an idiot.

Third, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the eminent neurosurgeon and Emmy award-winning chief medical correspondent for CNN, is hosting “Weed,” a one-hour documentary that premieres this Sunday, August 11, at 8:00 p.m. ET. According to, Dr. Gupta spent nearly a year traveling around the world to shed light on the marijuana debate. Should be interesting.

All this news about reefer spurred me to pull together some interesting facts that support legalization:

  • Pot has been used by nearly 100 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 25 million of us have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, young people don't smoke any more pot in states where medical marijuana is legal than in ones where it's not. Legalization advocates argue that the best way to reduce pot use by minors is to legalize and regulate it.
  • About 750,000 people are arrested every year for marijuana offenses in the U.S.
  • Although pot smoke, like tobacco smoke, contains carcinogens, a 2006 UCLA study concluded that even heavy marijuana use does not lead to lung cancer.
  • Pot, unlike alcohol, doesn't generally unleash aggression, so it's much harder to link it to violent crime.
  • According to National Institutes of Health research, just nine percent of marijuana users became clinically dependent at some point.
  • An Institute of Medicine report found "no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs."
  • Study after study has found that pot is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.
  • Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers an estimated $10 billion annually and results in the arrest of more than 750,000 individuals per year – far more than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
  • Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that its medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors.
The myth that marijuana users are slacker couch potatoes who’ll never amount to anything is just that: a myth. There’s of course no guarantee that you too will become one of the richest men in the world like Sir Richard Branson or Ted Turner, win Olympic gold medals like Michael Phelps, sell millions of books like Stephen King or become a leading politician like Mike Bloomberg or Barack Obama...but anything’s possible, dude.

If weed’s not your thing, that’s cool. I know not everyone’s comfortable altering their state in order to escape, relax or cure what ails ‘em. And pot can be abused just like any drug if one isn’t careful and responsible. The purpose of this post is just to provide readers with food for thought on an unnecessarily contentious issue. To me, it’s a no-brainer: legalize, regulate, tax and raise much-needed revenue while saving the trainloads of money we currently waste on prosecution and punishment.

Let’s do it in memory of Alexandria.

Click here to read, Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Sources:,,,, Rolling Stone, NORML.


  1. That's a good post. One thing that you didn't bring up was the cost to the American taxpayer that the War On Drugs has cost over the years. You did bring up the number of arrests, but not the number of people sitting in prison for the non-violent crime of smoking God's Own.
    "According to the new BJS report, "Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004," 12.7 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug violations are serving time for marijuana offenses. Combining these percentages with separate U.S. Department of Justice statistics on the total number of state and federal drug prisoners suggests that there are now about 33,655 state inmates and 10,785 federal inmates behind bars for marijuana offenses. The report failed to include estimates on the percentage of inmates incarcerated in county and/or local jails for pot-related offenses."$1_billion_a_year

  2. But it does make an awful lot for judges, lawyers, police, and all other kinds of folk too.