Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Legalize it

Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise, two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.

Lunch: A pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread, and 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

Dinner: A pound of pasta and an entire large pizza, and 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

The daily dietary intake of an Olympic swimming champion or the worst case of the munchies you’ve ever heard of?

Olympic champion Michael Phelps was recently photographed smoking marijuana from a bong on the campus of the University of South Carolina, where Phelps was visiting a female student he was secretly seeing (translation: banging – come on let’s be honest who wouldn’t bang Michael Phelps). British newspaper News of the World broke the story and also claimed that people representing Phelps tried to snuff out the story and offered the paper extraordinary incentives not to publish the photo.

Phelps has acknowledged that the photo showing him smoking marijuana from a bong is real, and he released the following statement: “I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again” (translation: the next time I get high, which will be very soon – perhaps even the minute I’m done giving this bullshit statement written by my pathetic public relations manager - I will not be careless enough to be photographed by some opportunistic ass hat with a camera in his cell phone).

People are generally pissed off at Michael Phelps for smoking marijuana.

The U.S. Olympic Committee released a statement saying it was "…disappointed in the behavior recently exhibited by Michael Phelps. Michael has acknowledged that he made a mistake and apologized for his actions. We are confident that, going forward, Michael will consistently set the type of example we all expect from a great Olympic champion."

Richland County, SC, Sheriff Leon Lott says he will charge Michael Phelps with a crime if he determines the Olympics hero smoked marijuana in Richland County. "This case is no different than any other case," Lott said. "This one might be a lot easier since we have photographs of someone using drugs and a partial confession. It's a relatively easy case once we can determine where the crime occurred."... Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a $570 fine, plus court costs.

Phelps’ corporate sponsors aren’t pulling the plug just yet but those in the know say Phelps’ image has taken a big hit as a result of this bust. "It's certainly not good and it’s a disaster in terms of the near future," said Robert Tuchman, president of Premiere Corporate Events, a sports entertainment firm. "He's very unlikely to have new sponsors come on board and endorse him. And there's the potential for other sponsors to pull the plug on him, using this as an opportunity. He's going to take a big hit on this."

You can also find thousands of derogatory statements about Phelps’ behavior in blogs and on message boards across the web. The general theme of the statements is that people are disappointed in Michael Phelps because he’s a role model and smoking marijuana sends the wrong message to kids across the world who look up to him.

I for one couldn’t disagree more. I think Michael Phelps smoking weed represents a huge step in the right direction for a very just and long overdue cause - the legalization of marijuana in America. Hell, if a world-record setting Olympian who just captured an unprecedented 8 gold medals at the Beijing games to go along with his 6 gold medals and 2 bronze medals from the Athens games can smoke weed and continue to dominate, can it really be so bad?

But marijuana makes you lazy and unproductive, and impairs your judgment. Oh yeah? Let’s see – Michael Phelps is meticulous and maniacal in his training regimens, he’s focused and unflappable during competitions, and he’s never satisfied with his accomplishments always stating that he wants to get better (like being the most decorated athlete in Olympic history is not enough). So he happens to relax by smoking a little weed during his offseason, big fucking deal. Doesn’t seem to have held him back too much, does it?

But marijuana is on the banned substance list for Olympic competitors. Yes, but only during in-competition testing. That’s right – cannabis is not considered a banned substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency during out-of-competition testing, which just so happens to be when the “visual bust” of Michael Phelps occurred. So to those cracking on young Mr. Phelps – give the guy a fucking break. In my opinion the only thing he did wrong was letting some douche bag capture the incident on film.

If you don’t agree that marijuana should be legalized consider the following logical arguments from the Marijuana Legalization Organization:

People have a basic right to make choices for themselves as long as their actions do not harm others. Responsible individuals in a free society should be allowed to choose whether or not they use marijuana. Individual liberty is a fundamental value.

The government is wasting our time and money by prohibiting marijuana. Taxpayers are forced to pay billions of dollars to persecute, prosecute, and incarcerate people for having marijuana. If marijuana were legal and regulated (like alcohol and tobacco) this money, plus tax revenues from marijuana sales, could be used for other purposes such as education and health care.

Prohibition is not an effective solution to the problems associated with marijuana use. Marijuana, like tobacco and alcohol, can be abused. But prohibition is expensive and ineffective; education and regulation are better solutions. Regulating sales of marijuana and teaching people the truth about its health effects will allow us to minimize the harms and costs to society.

We have learned a lesson from history. Alcohol prohibition did not work, and there is no logical reason to believe that marijuana prohibition is a better idea.

If you still disagree let me ask you this: Why is marijuana illegal, but alcohol and tobacco are available and regulated? People who support marijuana prohibition claim that marijuana is unhealthy and dangerous. They say we need to keep drugs illegal to protect our society from the addiction and disease that they cause. These arguments are not consistent with the fact that the two most deadly drugs in America are legal. Alcohol and tobacco are far more addictive and harmful than marijuana, but they are legally available. If we want to have drug policies that are logical and effective, we need to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to the regulation of alcohol and tobacco.

I’ll get off my soap box now and get back to the basic premise of this post. If someone like Michael Phelps can smoke marijuana and still be the best in the world at his chosen craft, shouldn't we at least entertain the thought of legalizing it?

Thank you Michael Phelps for being human, and thank you for inadvertently shedding some light on the truth about marijuana. Now “Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side”.

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