America's crusade against marijuana cannot continue

As you might have heard, Richard Nixon was a crook. He was behind one the largest scandals in our government’s history, but that isn’t the action that has had the most devastating impact on America. Richard Nixon is a crook because he brought us into a pointless, tremendously expensive and impossible war: keeping people from smoking pot.

One of my favorite ironic memories is my uncle explaining why pot is bad for me — as he sucked the ash from a cigarette and downed a glass of scotch. The hypocrisy in our society amazes me, as there is no reason we should treat marijuana differently from any other drug. The government’s own Bureau of Mortality Statistics in 2000 showed that alcohol and tobacco products kill 500,000 people every year. Pot kills zero. More people die from aspirin and caffeine than from marijuana. But these statistics aren’t evidence that these things should be banned. Individuals must have the right to control their own body. I use these numbers simply to show the hypocrisy in our government’s policy. About 400,000 more people die of tobacco every year than pot, but I can get the former at any 7-11, while I have to talk to my creepy 11th grade physics teacher to get a bit of the latter.

The argument for legalizing pot doesn’t end at “it’s not as bad as other stuff” either. This year, our federal government raided a church in California in search of marijuana. Isn’t the image of the police cuffing a pastor great for what this war has become? The church did indeed have the drug, but was giving it out, as state law allows, for medical purposes. For certain medical ailments, weed can be as healing as Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup. But there are multiple societal benefits to ending this aggression towards pot as well.

If pot were legalized, overcrowding in jails would be much less severe. In 2000, 734,000 people were incarcerated for marijuana related offenses — 646,042 for possession alone. Imprisonment is a punishment that, at the very least, is meant to keep dangerous people from endangering the rest of society. But are marijuana smokers really that dangerous?

Purging prisons of potheads would save money and free up space in our prison system. As my science professor would explain, people are matter. Matter, by definition, takes up space. Not only that, but people are expensive matter. The government could save a lot of space — for murders, rapists and other serious criminals — and money through decriminalization. Plus, no one’s safety would be at risk.

Meanwhile, a marijuana tax would be a great source of income for our nation. Forget cutting the federal budget or taxing health care benefits, I want a health care bill paid by the deep inhales of consumers. I also predict Fritos, Coke and Funion sales would increase as well, thus stimulating the economic recovery.

Legalization would also make smoking marijuana safer. We’ve all heard pot called the “gateway” drug, but the only reason it ever gets your addicted to anything else is because it is laced with other drugs. Legalization brings production out of the shadows and regulations could ensure that all of America’s weed has the U.S. government’s stamp of approval.

The crusade against pot cannot continue. It is ineffective and unintelligent; two qualities I believe are fairly detrimental to policy. Perhaps under our new president, one who finally admits to inhaling, the insanity that has continued for thirty years will end. Too bad no one ever gave Nixon a hit back then. Perhaps we wouldn’t have this problem.

Phil Cardarella is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and a liberal columnist for the Eagle. You can reach him at

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.