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In the “Odyssey,” Homer describes what appears to be one of the first known pot circles in Western history. His ship lands on the island of the lotus-eaters. A number of his men join its inhab­i­tants to partake in their honey-sweet lotus. But a change comes over them. They don’t want to leave. They prefer the ecstasy of the lotus to their distant homeland. Odysseus drags his weeping men back to the ship shouting, “you are high as a f — — kite!”

Er, or maybe that was “Pineapple Express.” Oops.

Either way, not much has changed in the last 3,000 years. Mar­i­juana has replaced the lotus but retained its effects. In the past, the United States has checked its influence by out­lawing it. Now, however, some move to ease the ban. Col­orado and Wash­ington have legalized the recre­ational use of mar­i­juana. Any sort of decrim­i­nal­ization or legal­ization would threaten the exis­tence of our nation as we know it.

I have never expe­ri­enced the effects of mar­i­juana myself so I delved into the darkest, murkiest depths of the Internet to find someone who had. I emerged with this:

“being high makes me feel like im fine one minute, then the next, im in slow motion…almost any­thing is the fun­niest thing of your life, even if nothing hap­pened at all…i have no idea what i just did recently. i’ll have these moods when i’ll come-to for a little bit, and i have no idea why im doing some­thing. ie. doing the robot by myself.” [sic]

After reading that, the first thing to come to my mind was, “yeah, dude, I smoked a joint last week and woke up in a voting booth. I think I was about to vote for that old white guy. How whack is that, man?”

That’s not to say that all these people vote sky high, but they do seek refuge reg­u­larly from what little rational faculty they have. According to DrugWarFacts.org, 17 million people in the United States, about 7 percent of the pop­u­lation, used mar­i­juana at least once per month in 2009. About 5.4 million of them smoke on a daily basis.

Legal­ization advo­cates like mjlegal.org argue that “indi­viduals deserve the right to decide whether or not they should use mar­i­juana. The gov­ernment should not tell indi­viduals what to do as long as they do not harm others.”

But they are hurting people. A lot of people. According to CrimeInAmerica.net, a third of people arrested in Atlanta and Wash­ington, D.C. are high, and about half in Char­lotte are. 87 percent of people arrested in Chicago and 78 percent in Sacra­mento tested pos­itive for drug use, most com­monly mar­i­juana.

These sta­tistics are fright­ening, dude. Only 7 percent of the country’s pop­u­lation smoke pot every month, but up to half of all people arrested in a big city are high at the time of the crime. If that’s not harmful to society, what is? Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Not too long ago, a popular com­mercial for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Cor­po­ration spilled over into the United States. It depicted a football trainer acci­den­tally spilling a bottle of muscle relaxant into a cooler of game-day Gatorade. The result was funny, but dis­turbing: the quar­terback could hardly stand up, the linemen were more inter­ested in counting their fingers than blocking; the wide receiver took off in the wrong direction; and the running back, when handed the ball, tickled it like a baby.

If mar­i­juana is fully legalized and decrim­i­nalized, that football team will be the United States. That may be an exag­ger­ation, but only a slight one.

Full legal­ization would increase pot use. It may take a gen­er­ation or two because of the moral stigma around the use of drugs, but it will become more prevalent. More than half of Amer­icans casually drink alcohol. That doesn’t seem to cause too many serious problems. If mar­i­juana is as harmless as its acolytes argue, it’s rea­sonable to expect about half of Amer­icans to use it casually. Not a big deal, right? We can all get along.

There is one serious dif­ference between alcohol and mar­i­juana: casual drinking doesn’t lead to drunk­enness, but casual pot usage causes highness.

Once the cloud of inde­cency around mar­i­juana evap­o­rates, half of our country will casually resemble the team kicker who just couldn’t resist the desire to know what the referee’s face felt like. A football team can’t win like that, and a country can’t survive like that: crime will increase and people will be more con­cerned with escaping reality than flour­ishing in it. In fact, they’ll think they’ve flour­ished in it when they’ve escaped it.

It may be fun to forget reality every once in awhile, but there is a limit. It’s sur­passed when Larry from “Animal House” says, “our whole solar system could be, like, one tiny atom in the fin­gernail of some other giant being,” and any portion of our country could take it seri­ously.