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Commentary :: Health & Drugs

Rope a Dope

Gee, what might be the key to salvaging the U.S. economy -- besides ridding the government of conservatives, I mean?
Even though Alan Greenspan has empirically announced that Americans can just live with it, economists of reality say that oil prices are jeopardizing the very livelihood of America. Never has a barrel of oil cost so much, unless you use some mathematical gimmickry to say that it was really a lot higher in 1981 "adjusted for inflation". Without delving too deeply into why it is that America's worst oil crises have all taken place under the watch of Republican presidents, there is no question that energy costs in general and oil costs specifically are sapping the strength of our economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is below ten thousand points, and the NASDAQ is under two thousand, rendering null and void virtually all activities since the collapse of the markets after 9/11. With winter on the way, the annual heating oil surges are sure to gouge the paychecks of the folks in the Northeast. This is the sort of thing that makes so many laugh so bitterly every time the Bush administration, the ranks of which are filled with former oil company executives, tries to tell us that they're letting us "keep more of our money".

Simple question, where the woes of heating oil are concerned: Why is hemp not being grown as a source of fuel oil? Such would ease the burden on refineries and slacken the demand for fossil fuels in the first place, and would lever down the price of crude by the barrel. This would ease the fears that have gripped the stock market into absolute paralysis, which would help investors, which would help businesses, which would help the economy - including farmers throughout the land. I guess that makes sense to everyone except Republicans, which is another reason to never let them exert power over anything more serious than a school board.

The price of oil isn't the only thing that endangers our economy. Four of the top six cities in the U.S. for intravenous drug use are in California: Fresno, Stockton-Lodi, Bakersfield and San Francisco. Be it methamphetamine or heroin, rampant IV drug use is killing people through infection, ruining their lives and families. This puts people in jail and sucks much-needed funds away from both state and municipal governments. Fresno, for example, has a population of around 165,000 people, but has to spend $20 million per year fighting IV drug use.

Could the money being used on pot busts not be better directed to clean up meth labs and shut down the meth cartels? How much of our resources are spent hunting down dealers? The same cartels that push meth are also responsible for tons of marijuana being smuggled into the country. Denting their revenues weakens the cartels, making law enforcement's job that much easier. California faces enough challenges in its economy, and is saddled with a non-thinker in the governor's mansion besides, which never helps matters (that same governor, by the way, is on film smoking a joint).

Decriminalizing a "drug" that has always been present in our culture frees up bunks at the local jails, and keeps more people at work - spare me the stereotypes of those who smoke marijuana; that rings as false as any other prejudice you can think of - which means more paychecks are written, and more taxes are paid. As obvious as it is that hemp could be used to protect us from dependence on foreign sources of oil, it is equally obvious that the best way to win (or at least make civilized gains in) the war on drugs is to legalize marijuana, which is used by a significant percentage of Americans regardless of how the laws are written.

That was the reason, by the way, that Prohibition was repealed; it didn't work. But we can't legalize it, because the same blue-nosed idiots that won't let their kids celebrate Halloween are in control of the government. Conservatism is, as ever, at odds with common sense: The country simply cannot afford to persecute marijuana and everything else that harms people, and Americans ought be smart enough to recognize that. Wiping out anti-pot laws would certainly free up much-needed monies for law enforcement around the country.

This would further create revenue streams for local, state and federal tax coffers, with a use-tax that would not affect those snotty conservatives one bit, since they say they're not inclined to smoke dope. I suppose they prefer to abuse other narcotics, such as prescription painkillers... No worries there.

Addressing the only argument that even remotely makes any sense, that marijuana is a "gateway" to harder drugs, is simple. The very same argument could be applied (but isn't) to cigarettes, which are a gateway to marijuana - but the federal government is loathe to even regulate tobacco, much less criminalize it, because industry lobbyists pour money into Republican campaigns, just as Big Oil's contributions keep us from burning alternative forms of fuel.

It all comes back around to one thing: Deliberate ignorance, fueled by greed. There is one side of the political spectrum that is afflicted with this malady, only they don't suffer for it. Our country does.

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