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I want to take a step back from watching the events of the world to commenting on a subject closer to home. As a former law enforcement officer, I saw the use, misuse, and long term effects of marijuana. Also known as Cannabis, pot, and a whole myriad of knick names, this herb has been around since humans began experimenting with nature. It is known to have some medicinal benefits. In recent years several states have legalized it under a Doctor’s prescription.  In other states, over crowding of the prison system and court dockets could be alleviated if it was legalized.

I am torn on the legalization for many reasons. The biggest one is that once you open the box, Pandora, are you opening up to other drugs? Where do you draw the line, and not in the sand. I saw this herb used by many in college at parties and at concerts. I avoided it as I abhor the smell of it. Indeed, my nose is so attune to it that I could find the smallest seed or ash in a car and made many arrests. My nose was used by other officers to help find it on suspects. I even trained my police horse to seek it out in backpacks of youth when we encountered them. I hate the stuff. But what I think means nothing in wider scheme of things.

What scares me the most about legalizing marijuana is its long term effects on humans. It is mildly addictive just like cigarettes. It does destroy the brain with long term and continuous use. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It can be a gateway to other drugs. It is frequently used by hard drug users to curb or enhance the effects of harder drugs. What scares me the most is the ‘stoner’ effect of long term users. When I met and had to deal with these people there was no doubt their mind was effected and brain function diminished. So why legalize?

I would vote to legalize it with a high tax put on it. I am a firm believer in ‘sin taxes’. That includes all ‘sin taxes’; cigarettes, liquor, even legalized prostitution. Why? Because we know humans will do these things. Whether legal or not humans will get and use these things. The Prohibition Era should show us that. Even in countries where cigarettes and liquor are outlawed they still exist. So why not get the tax money from these items? I hate taxes as much as anyone. But if you pay taxes on items you have a choice of using that is different than being taxed on items you have to have, like food. I don’t think food should be taxed with the exception of sodas, chips, and some other items that harmful when over indulged. Will legalizing marijuana be harmful in the long run? Possibly, in health care costs, but I don’t think any more than alcohol or smoking do. The long term effects of alcohol and smoking are just as devastating as long term pot use. So I say, if they are going to use it, tax it, and make it legal. The Federal Government should back off and let the States decide on an individual basis. Then, those who want it can live there and those who don’t can live where it is not. Perfect compromise.