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Photo Credit: The Tele­graph

If the polling proves accurate, Michigan voters will soon approve a recre­ational mar­i­juana ballot pro­posal. Mar­i­juana support has become not only socially acceptable, but in vogue, uniting con­ser­v­a­tives, lib­erals, and lib­er­tarians; hip politi­cians and stoned cit­i­zenry. Indeed, despite federal and state bans, fans of the drug are ubiq­uitous — even pious Hillsdale College is home to quite a few con­sumers, and even more advo­cates.

Slow your roll. Ballot Pro­posal 1 isn’t about weed, it’s about com­mercial sales — widely mar­keted and dis­sem­i­nated weed. The amply-funded  mar­i­juana lobby con­vinced most Michi­ganders and Amer­icans to support recre­ational legal­ization, even though less than a quarter of American adults have used the drug in the last year. Far more cit­izens agree that med­i­cinal mar­i­juana merits legal status. But this ballot pro­posal takes it too far: It’s an all-in bet on the benef­i­cence of weed; it’s THC gummy bears in a shop on the corner, and the intro­duction of some­thing into society that will never removed. Michi­ganders should vote no.

Voting no isn’t an endorsement of full and eternal pro­hi­bition. The pri­vately-smoking adult and the med­i­cinal user have been unmo­lested for some time, and won’t go away. Society needs to inch toward a better legal rela­tionship with weed, rather than plunge fully and irre­versibly forward.

Backers of Pro­posal 1 tout the change as a victory of mod­erate sen­si­bility against the “dev­as­tation wrought by the war on drugs.” A few pot shops, the rea­soning goes, are preferable to pow­erful Mexican cartels or the destruction to urban com­mu­nities caused by over­crim­i­nal­ization. But the caprices and excesses of the war on drugs are no reason to support Pro­posal 1. Harsh sen­tencing and the com­munity problems it can create may be mended without making recre­ational weed more common. Talk of the war on drugs in this context places emphasis on the wrong victim. On Pro­posal 1, voters should pri­marily con­sider not those who wallow in prison for a bit of bud, but those whose lives would be affected by legalized recre­ational use. As for cartel revenue streams, the per­mis­sions and inter­dic­tions of our laws should not be deter­mined pri­marily by the flow of dark money. Blocking illegal profits might be a benefit of legal­ization, but the tradeoff is less abstract: Far more Amer­icans know people who’ve been harmed by weed than people killed by MS-13.

Weed sup­porters com­monly insist that “it’s not that bad.” It isn’t, they say, as addictive, destructive, or dan­gerous as the prudish naysayers might have the public believe. It’s hardly a com­pelling argument — is weed even “that good?” Pos­itive evi­dence is usually nec­essary to adjust the status quo, and the science on mar­i­juana is still embryonic. Slower leg­islative change and the preser­vation of com­munity control over the drug would allow cit­izens to examine more care­fully what they want and don’t want from mar­i­juana legal­ization. Few voters want their kids to have easier access to a full slate of recre­ational mar­i­juana products; few wish that their own parents had been recre­ating with weed while child rearing. Kids, with their growing brains and devel­oping intel­li­gence, shouldn’t partake in mind-altering drugs — nor should they be given the oppor­tunity to do so. The science must be heard and the kids must be pro­tected.

Yet the potential ben­efits and innocuous uses of mar­i­juana and its deriv­a­tives are unde­niable. Med­i­cinal mar­i­juana is already available in Michigan to cit­izens with certain con­di­tions — 11 new con­di­tions became eli­gible in July. The countless tes­ti­monies of people stricken with problems ranging from arthritis to ulcers, whose chronic pains were alle­viated by mar­i­juana, are pow­erful and per­suasive. Mar­i­juana deriv­a­tives, like the increas­ingly popular cannabinoid CBD, are also both non-intox­i­cating and appar­ently remedial or ther­a­peutic. Michi­ganders are right in looking forward to these ben­efits. But there is no reason why Michi­ganders must accept the ballot pro­posal instead of seeking more nuanced leg­is­lation. It might be rea­sonable for Michigan to legalize low-potency med­i­cinal mar­i­juana and non-intox­i­cating deriv­ative products, while com­bating problems like harsh sen­tencing in other ways. Despite mil­lennia of abuse, alco­holic drink remains legal because of its mod­erate uses. In a similar way, leg­islative action should seek to promote the mod­erate uses of mar­i­juana while fighting self­ishly indulgent, reckless, or dan­gerous uses.

By charting a dif­ferent course, Michigan could set a national standard for a mea­sured approach to mar­i­juana legal­ization. The Supreme Court has main­tained that, pur­suant to the Com­merce Clause, the federal gov­ernment has the power to reg­ulate local mar­i­juana usage. But if the states demon­strated a more cau­tious approach, perhaps Con­gress could be con­vinced to remove marijuana’s Schedule I clas­si­fi­cation and allow it interact benef­i­cally with society.

Joshua Pradko is a senior studying American Studies.

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Just what we need, more stoned drivers on the highway. NOT.

    This pro­posal is on the ballot merely to get Lefties to the polls, for no other reason. It’s asinine on it’s face.

    • Jen­nifer Melfi

      the allusion to drunk driving is a good one. We already have this harm built into our current laws regarding vice and intox­i­cants n this country. There is a strong con­ser­v­ative jus­ti­fi­cation for mar­i­juana legal­ization, too bad that this subject makes hyp­ocrites of most cuck repub­licans who claim to be lib­er­tarians or con­ser­v­a­tives. I saw “let them smoke”

      • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

        We already have too many drunk drivers on the roads, why com­pound that mistake by legal­izing another intox­i­cating drug? Marijuana’s effect when you smoke it is unpre­dictable, anyone who has smoked it is aware of that. The effect can be mild to very strong, cer­tainly it doesn’t help driving reaction speeds and judgment. If legalized it WILL lead to more traffic acci­dents and resultant fatal­ities with the attendant cost to society.
        Being a Lib­er­tarian doesn’t mean accepting ‘any­thing goes’. Your Rights only extend as far as to when they interfere with someone else’s Rights. When a stoned driver puts me or my family at risk on the highway, that is unac­ceptable.
        Anyway, the voters will decide. If you’ve ever been to Ams­terdam, Holland where weed is Legal you’ll see what it results in. I’ve been there many times on business-it’s really dis­gusting.

        • Jen­nifer Melfi

          sir, this is where you may be off the mark due to lack of expe­rience. Mar­i­juana and alcohol are both intox­i­cants. The effects of alcohol and drunk-driving inci­dents are cer­tainly hateful, but to believe that we will have more of the intox­i­cated driving is not really logical. Mar­i­juana will likely be a replacement intox­icant for most people. In col­orado, the amount of serious acci­dents hasn’t increased despite the legal­ization of mar­i­juana, and this is in the face of large pop­u­lation increases in the state (https://www.codot.gov/news/documents/safety-press-conference-boards-jan-31 – 2017). Being a real lib­er­tarian involves looking at the con­se­quences of inter­vention and weighing the con­se­quences. In this case, the war on drugs has made many more victims over a longer period of time

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I’ve smoked mar­i­juana during my gilded youth, not a lot but enough to be familiar with the effect. Unless my expe­rience is unique to my body chem­istry there were times I was stoned when I would have been a danger behind the wheel. Also, the bodies reaction to THC is never as pre­dictable as alcohol, which does concern me.
            I think this Pro­posal was a mistake, but that will probably have to be lit­i­gated in the Courts. I just hope the test case doesn’t involve a fatality or fatal­ities-but I suspect it will. In my opinion, Michigan is not a better state for having legalized Mar­i­juana-agree with me or dis­agree, that is your pre­rog­ative.

        • Ellsworth_Toohey

          Or.… you could just not drive drunk/stoned or on pre­scription drugs that warn against it. Free will is a bitch,

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            ‘Free will’ doesn’t mean you can violate my Rights. Lib­er­tar­i­anism doesn’t mean anarchy.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Where did I ever say or suggest that? In fact, quite the opposite, “you could just *not* drive drunk/stoned”

  • So we should maintain a com­pletely baseless gov­ernment restriction of liberty because it’s… an allowance for cap­i­talism? The end of a pro­hi­bition that’s even more ridiculous, unwar­ranted and deadly than the pro­hi­bition on alcohol was? And end to at least one tram­pling of the right a person has to choose what they put in their own body? Just because the author doesn’t see the benefit in the sub­stance itself, asking “is weed even that good?” That’s begging the question, and addi­tionally, the entire argument is an appeal to mod­er­ation. To say nothing of the ad-nauseam rep­e­tition of already debunked points (such as the “science isn’t in yet” and “kids will have more access” — the latter of which being absolutely idiotic, because kids already have better access to mar­i­juana than just about any other drug; legal­ization and reg­u­lation wouldn’t change that at all, since it’s already illegal). And citing a bla­tantly incorrect Supreme Court ruling that the Tenth Amendment inher­ently nul­lifies? Come on, now.

    The author needs to seri­ously recon­sider their rea­soning and try again.

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    I wonder what the author thinks about Jello Shots?

    • Jen­nifer Melfi

      When I was at Hillsdale, there was a guy named Adam Pradko… wonder if this guy is related. If so/not, this student should ask an alumnus (adam pradko) about how he feels on this issue. Respect your elders!

  • jonny-o3

    Lol, so “think of the children” is the best argument he can come up with?

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    The hillsdale college that I know and love was about edu­cating for liberty… Liberty is an important word because the current iter­ation of hillsdale college seems much more inter­ested in control. I don’t want to throw around the term “fascist”…(shoot, just did).

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    better question — with the new HIllsdale’s very public anti-drug stance — would the admin­is­tration allow the col­legian the freedom of pub­lishing a PRO-MARIJUANA stance?

    • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

      I’m more inter­ested in whether Hillsdale College will allow this practice on campus? Drinking alcohol is legal for those over 21, but I don’t think HC allows it.

      Private busi­nesses can pro­hibit behavior on their premises, even if the freedom to practice it in public exists. Pres­ident Arnn should clarify the school’s position on smoking mar­i­juana as soon as pos­sible, because it cer­tainly will be an issue soon.

      I per­sonally can’t think of any­thing more inap­pro­priate than walking down a dorm hallway and smelling weed, it just doesn’t lend itself to serious study in my view.

      • Jen­nifer Melfi

        Hillsdale college def­i­nitely allows drinking and most stu­dents partake. When I was there they policed underage drinking in the dorms when it got rowdy, but didnt pro-actively search for any­thing. If you were off campus it seemed it was all fair game. Cops were pretty good to deal with if you stayed in the house or yard you were par­tying in, even if underage.

        I would guess 5 – 10% or more were recre­ational mar­i­juana users when I was there. It wasn’t uncommon to see a nice cloud rolling out of certain dorm or fra­ternity rooms though the college was cer­tainly cracking down on it.

        The college isnt a business, though they clearly have the right to make whatever rules they want. I think they should be con­sistent in their “edu­cating for liberty” stance and let kids exper­iment in the safe con­fines of the college around friends

      • Camus53

        Well since you are not and have never been a student at the Dale…and come here to bloviate about sup­posed con­ser­v­ative values that have little con­nection to true Conservatism…you can’t really speak with any authority on weed, alcohol, sex on campus let alone the college in general now can you.…cept what you hear from Rush extolling the virtues of Hillsdale.

        We drank, a lot, smoked quite fre­quently, rolled grass and rolled in the hay at happydale…on campus…in dorms…certainly in frat and sority houses…in most every college building and enjoyed both fine teaching and a fine life (cept for the food…it sucked…hear it still does).

        If a college wants to claim a unique right to per­sonal freedoms then it must practice what it preaches and sup­posedly still teaches…or it risks being hypocritical…much like the con­ser­v­a­tives and repub­licans of today…hmmm…maybe it is true…and if true…the Dale died round about the same time the music died…a long long time ago,

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    Mar­i­juana legal­ization passed. Smoke-up chargers!