The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has denounced marijuana legalization initiatives that will appear on ballots this November in Colorado, Oregon and Washington on the grounds that marijuana is a dangerous drug. If the DEA wants to continue their war on marijuana because they consider it dangerous, it should also urge the prohibition of alcohol for the same reason.
To fully protect free adults from themselves, the government must look at the harm caused to society by alcohol. It won’t take long to see overwhelming evidence that alcohol is not only dangerous, but much more dangerous than marijuana.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2001 and 2005, an average of 80,000 people per year died in the United States from alcohol-related deaths. Most of these deaths are directly from the effects of alcoholism and alcohol poisoning, or due to drunken driving, alcohol-related accidents and violence.
In that same time, there were zero deaths attributed by the CDC to marijuana use alone.
According to the CDC, fewer Americans use marijuana than alcohol. But even accounting for the lower rates of use in the population, such a stark difference in fatalities alone for each drug would lead one to believe that while marijuana may not be entirely without health risks, alcohol is clearly the more physically harmful substance of the two.
A drug directly responsible for no fatalities is illegal, while a drug responsible for up to 80,000 deaths every year can be purchased at a grocery store. Shouldn’t the more harmful drug be banned?
Of course, as we learned from the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. from 1920 to 1933, banning alcohol won’t make it go away, it will just drive it underground. But, as in the case of marijuana, it must be done to save law-abiding citizens from making poor decisions regarding their own health.
Those who want alcohol won’t forget all about it once it’s banned, they’ll simply buy it from entrepreneurial criminals who will gladly fill the void left by shuttered liquor shops and bars. In the case of those physically addicted to alcohol, which is about 17 million Americans according to the National Institute of Health, there will be no choice but to deal with unsavory characters and unregulated alcohol.
Rather than providing the country with over $5 billion in tax revenue each year, the money earned from alcohol sales will go to anyone willing to take the risk of selling it for huge tax-free financial gain.
Since alcohol will be illegal at any age and dealers probably won’t require identification, adolescents may find it much easier to obtain.
If they’re caught with the illegal substance they will be sent to prison, with no consideration for youthful error. For adults and children alike, a non-violent personal choice to use a chemical will lead to decades of unproductive existence, exposure to violent criminals and a criminal record that will follow the drug user wherever they go.
These may seem like drastic measures that would cause more harm than good, but the government has made it clear that it aims to save the American people from their own reckless recreational desires with little concern for the actual societal cost of such prohibitions.
If the federal government believes their war on marijuana is working, it’s time to apply those same rules to alcohol and demand citizens put a plug in the jug or face consequences far more painful than a hangover.
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