“With tax, that joint comes to $9.99. Would you like brownies with that?” [The Hub Debate]

Legalizing Marijuana

The following is a submission for The Hub Debate. Participants in  submit 500 words or less in support or opposition to a statement.

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Resolved: With the passage of HB105, Utah has embarked down the slippery slope of legalized marijuana.


I was a teenager before I interacted with someone lost to alcohol. Growing up in a conservative family, both politically and religiously, alcohol was not allowed in our home, and there were few in my circle that drank socially, let alone abused it.

One night at a high school football game as I enthusiastically cheered on the team, I felt a hard bump from behind.  Another student came pushing through the crowded student section of the bleachers. A faint aroma wafted after him. Disgusted looks followed him as he shoved boys and girls rudely out of his way.

“What was that all about,” I wondered aloud as we finished the cheer and sat back down.

“He’s drunk,” said a more world-wise friend. “You can smell it.”

At that moment came a crash and we all craned our necks in the direction of the sound.

In the distance, the drunk student had made it to the edge of the bleachers but then crashed headlong into the band gathering for the halftime show.  He looked pitiful.

Religious convictions aside, I never needed another example of how alcohol impacted judgment. Learning damning statistics about drunk driving deaths and alcohol fueled spousal and child abuse have only bolstered my prejudice against liquor.

Which is a very roundabout way to get to the question at hand: does the legalization of medical marijuana put us on the slippery slope to full legalization?

As a society, we’re okay with alcohol, which causes thousands of deaths each year; why are we opposed to marijuana?

Or is that just hype, PR, and lack of knowledge about how pot affects people?

I consider the use of marijuana to be foolish, unhealthy, and social detrimental. I’ve seen the real effects of marijuana abuse on friends, associates, and family.  I won’t ever condone its use beyond medicinal purposes.

But is keeping it illegal the best way to control it? Or should we utilize the full strength of state and federal governments to control its use?

In President Ronald Reagan’s words: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Like it or not, marijuana is moving, and the best means to controlling it might be a stern dose of taxation and regulation.

As for the crime associated with criminal distribution of marijuana?

Reagan, again: “One way to make sure crime doesn’t pay would be to let the government run it.”

Maybe it’s time to let the government run it.

I can hear it now: “With tax, that joint comes to $9.99. Would you like a box of brownies to go with that?”

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