Perspectives changing on marijuana use

Not too many years ago, a politician who admitted to illicit drug use could find their political future doomed. Now, the list of marijuana users reads like a political "Who's Who." President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Congressman Newt Gingrich, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor Sarah Palin and President Obama all admitted using pot at some point in their lives. More recently, popular Texas Republican Ron Paul has stated his support of the legalization of marijuana. These disclosures are truly a departure from the political pedigree that was once needed to emerge on the national political scene.

In spite of nearly 70 years of marijuana prohibition, marijuana use remains a national habitual preoccupation. The Depart of Health and Human Services survey numbers reveal 44 percent of Americans under 65 admit having used marijuana.

I only knew a couple of people in high school that used it. Then, in late adolescence, I was at a party where a girl smoked pot, fell on the ground, convulsed, and her eyes rolled up in her head. This experience detoured me from experimenting with pot or any other drug, unless you include tobacco and alcohol on the drug list - and, of course, they are drugs. From an overview of the literature around pot, I learned the reaction to pot that I observed is extremely rare.

I am not an advocate of marijuana. Many concerns remain, especially pot use among young people. Just as alcohol affects the adolescent mind more profoundly, so does pot. Like tobacco, the smoke from marijuana does irritate the lungs, though there doesn't seem to be a correlation with cancer. I am puzzled as to why so many Americans use pot in spite of laws that provide for harsh jail sentences.

Public opinion polls are changing around marijuana use. Some polls suggest more and more Americans do not feel marijuana users should be put in jail. Still, many Americans oppose legalization. Many states have and others areconsidering medical marijuana as a legal use for pot. Some Americans believe medical marijuana will lead to the legalization of marijuana. Apparently, the verdict is still out on wide spread marijuana use. Remember all kids count.

Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at hurlburt@wildblue.net

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