Today is the unofficial counterculture holiday celebrated by those who consume the drug marijuana/cannabis. The origins of the day are cloudy, but The Huffington Post recounts a theory that 420 was originally a code used by pot-smoking students to signify a time when they would meet and smoke. The post also suggests other theories such as “420” originating as a code from a police group that identified pot smokers. Regardless of it’s origins, Pot Smokers Day, or 420 Day has become a day for users to celebrate the use of marijuana and their freedom to do so. Or more pointedly, their lack of freedom to do so.
I’d be very surprised if the legalisation of marijuana came up in national politics – to suggest such a thing as a politician is to virtually beg for political cartoons of yourself stoned. A once rather popular urban myth was that in the Australian Capital Territory (where our parliament resides) marijuana was legal…sadly that is not the case, and in the ACT, like the rest of Australia and a large majority of the world, marijuana is illegal.
Yet there are a lot of people advocating for the legalisation of the drug. Those is favour of legalisation argue that the drug is (generally) not nearly as harmful as the legal tobacco and alcohol, legalisation could bring money to the government through tax, would free up police time for actually serious business, drug dealers with even dodgier crimes on the side would lose their business, you can use cannabis for other things and there are medical benefits. And that keeping the drug illegal encroaches on personal freedom.
Those who oppose the legalisation of the drug say that people who abuse the drug will sustain physical damage (and mental too, I suppose), widespread use would increase the danger of second-hand smoke, marijuana is often used as a stepping stone drug, stoned driving and other dangers would increase, legalisation would increase the chances of children consuming and that the legalisation of marijuana would led to the legalisation of harder drugs.
I’m just going to throw my two cents into the debate; I think legalising the drug is a bad idea, and here’s why. Much like the culture of those under the drinking age to drink because it is “cool” and risky and thrilling I believe that part of the draw to smoke marijuana is the thrill. People are drawn to it because it is a little risky, a little rebellious, a little illegal and if that is legalised it would lose that kind of appeal. Those seeking the thrill of something illegal could turn to harder drugs to satisfy that need and that would be terrible because unlike marijuana other drugs are extremely harmful and addictive and deadly. And if people are going to be involved in illegal activity anyway…why not let that illegal activity be relatively harmless pot smoking? Yeah, I know it’s not the most solid argument ever, but that’s my two cents.
Whatever side you take, happy 420 Day.
~ Darcie Rae
An excellent site on both sides of the debate: http://www.balancedpolitics.org/marijuana_legalization.htm
On 420 Day: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-papa/420-national-pot-smokers_b_187905.html