I am going to make this as simple as I can. So simple that even Reaganite red-state conservatives who follow Sean Hannity can get it.
The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801) with “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and “a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.” Under federal law, possession of marijuana is punishable by a jail sentence not to exceed one year and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction, with increasing penalties for subsequent convictions. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has the authority to prohibit marijuana possession and use for any and all purposes.
Most conservatives believe that this policy of the federal government is a good and necessary thing.
I have heard and read many conservative arguments over the years against the legalization of marijuana, for medical use or otherwise. Some of them are ridiculous. Some of them are just plain wrong. Some of them have an element of truth. Some of them contradict each other. Some of them might even be true.
I have listed these arguments here, or at least all that I could find or remember, all prefaced by “so what,” which I will presently explain.
So what if marijuana is a gateway drug.
So what if marijuana is addictive.
So what if marijuana today is at least five times stronger than the marijuana of the past.
So what if marijuana actually has no health benefits.
So what if medical marijuana advocates really just want to legally get high.
So what if marijuana has long-term negative effects on learning, cognition, and personality.
So what if smoking marijuana is hazardous to your health.
So what if marijuana use has been linked to metal disorders and depression.
So what if there is a link between marijuana use and increased risk of stroke and heart failure.
So what if smoking marijuana can adversely affect the liver.
So what if smoking marijuana causes lung cancer.
So what if marijuana use leads to mood and psychotic-thought disorders.
So what if the number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana increased after Colorado legalized marijuana.
So what if THC levels in marijuana have increased.
So what if smoking marijuana make people more violent.
So what if marijuana use is not safe.
So what if suicides where toxicology results were positive for marijuana have increased in Colorado after the legalization of marijuana.
So what if using marijuana may cost you your job, your friends, and your family.
So what if marijuana is not harmless.
So what if homelessness has increased in Colorado since marijuana was legalized.
So what if using marijuana opens one’s mind to wickedness and the occult.
So what if smoking marijuana lowers one’s life expectancy.
So what if medical marijuana advocates really just want all drugs to be legalized.
So what if most of the research on medical marijuana is antidotal rather than academic.
So what if the risk of schizophrenia is higher among teens who smoke marijuana than those who don’t.
So what if marijuana causes emphysema.
So what if marijuana use dramatically increases a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack or other cardiovascular events.
So what if marijuana consumption makes one lethargic.
So what if smoking marijuana causes bronchitis.
So what if heavy marijuana use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ.
So what if marijuana use is immoral.
So what if marijuana is a dangerous drug.
So what if depression, intense anxiety, and paranoid fear are common side effects of smoking marijuana.
So what if acute psychosis is not an infrequent side effect of marijuana.
So what if marijuana used as medicine is just a placebo.
So what if marijuana is a psychoactive drug with hallucinogenic properties.
So what if marijuana is not an innocent play thing.
So what if marijuana use is a sin.
So what if all of these things are true.
As much as conservatives want the federal government to outlaw marijuana, as much as they want to see marijuana traffickers locked in a federal prison, as much as they want federal law to trump state laws when it comes to marijuana, they are faced with a formidable obstacle.
Under the Constitution, the United States was set up with a federal system of government where the states granted a limited number of powers to a central government. As James Madison succinctly explained in Federalist No. 45:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
Conservatives claim to revere the Constitution. Conservatives claim to follow the Constitution. Conservatives claim that they protect and defend the Constitution.
Okay then. If someone is a real conservative, then he should call for all federal laws that concern marijuana in any way to be repealed. If conservatives want to have a government war on marijuana and marijuana users, then they will have to use the state governments to do their bidding. How much simpler can it get.
So, to every conservative argument for the federal government waging war on marijuana and marijuana users, I simply say, so what.
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