As a species, we humans have a tendency to be unable or unwilling to deal with reality. Take our current discussion about whether Fresno will alow stores to sell marijuana for recreational use (oops, they just decided to say no). Much is being said about the downside of marijuana use. It impairs judgment, it is a gateway drug to stronger drugs, etc.
One of the things that we conveniently forget is that we allow the sale of a scientifically proven killer: cigarettes. Plus now e-cigarettes, themselves a gateway to smoking. We allow the sale of beverages containing alcohol. Today we even see ads on TV promoting the use of alcoholic beverages, beer and hard liquors.
We need to take an honest look at the broad range of inducements in our media to use mind-altering substances. Sit in front of your TV during prime time. There are many ads paid for by pharmaceutical companies that put out one message: Drugs are good, and there is a pill or shot for every ailment.
Advertising for drugs and alcoholic products permeates the airwaves. Being one of two first-world countries that allow drug companies to advertise on TV, do we not understand the message we are putting out? The message is drink beer to have a fun, exciting life; take a pill to stop hurting. The good life is there for you if you drink alcohol or pop ills or get a shot to overcome a problem.
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We are a society addicted to alcohol and drug use. What makes us think that we will turn the tide by restricting recreational marijuana when we blatantly advertise the notion that drugs and alcohol are good?
Deaths resulting from drinking alcoholic beverages are reported almost daily in our newspapers and on TV. Yet we advertise the same products around the clock on TV, newspapers and in our store handbills on their windows.
One could probably say that beer is the gateway to alcoholism. It is one thing to allow and control the sale and use of a product like alcohol or tobacco; it is another to allow indiscriminate advertising promoting the use of these products to young children.
We have been fighting the war on drugs for many years. It has built an entire industry of drug fighting forces and companies that in the end, have not made a dent in drug use, illegal importing of drugs,or the manufacture of illegal drugs.
It has been a complete waste of money and time. In addition, it has filled our prisons by locking up nonviolent drug users and sellers. That puts us high on the list of number of prisoners per capita in the world.
If we are truly serious about fighting addiction, then we can stop all advertising, TV, magazines, roadside signs, and handbills in business windows, no beer, whiskey, gin, etc. No cigarette ads. No pharmaceutical ads. Restrict the advertising of over-the-counter drugs. Then we might be able to seriously discuss restricting recreational marijuana sales and be slightly honest about it.
I suggest that we get over our pomposity and set up laws to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana. Do it the same way we did after the repeal of prohibition. Naturally we will impose a high “sin” tax that will bring money into our local government’s coffers. So we will end up profiting from marijuana just as we do from alcohol and cigarettes.
Norman M. Lambert of Fresno is a retired and enjoys freelance writing and traveling. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.