Today marks 4/20, the global counterculture holiday celebrating all things cannabis. And to commemorate the occasion, The Hundreds is releasing our signature Adam Bomb New Era 59/50 fitted baseball cap, this time with a natural twist: constructed of hemp (one of the most strongest fibers in the world), with green design accents, and a wooden button on top. There’s also an accompanying organic t-shirt to coincide with Earth Day later this week. Both will be available ONLY exclusively at The Hundreds LA and The Hundreds SF as of this morning, and will NOT be available online or anywhere else for that matter.
Hemp and green huh? Is this just about glorifying pot and getting high? Believe it or not, my impetus for this project actually arose from political suggestion. We live in the State of California, one of 14 states in America that has legalized medical marijuana, with experts speculating almost nationwide acceptance over the next decade. Aside from gay marriage, marijuana legalization has become the most pertinent political issue for our generation. What’s the big deal anyways?
As many of you may or may not know, I don’t smoke weed. No, really, I don’t. But I wholeheartedly support legalizing marijuana use amongst responsible adults. Why? Basically, it really just doesn’t make sense not to.
The National Study on Drug Use and Health reports almost 100 million Americans have tried marijuana, while 15 million have used in the past month. Marijuana has historically been masked with the stoner’s stigma and framed as a gateway drug, however most of those fears have been allayed over generations of hardworking, tax-paying, pot smokers who haven’t fallen into addictions. Traditionally, the popular criticism held that cannabis use was inextricable from hardcore substances abuse, from degenerate criminal behavior, but clearly that philosophy has adjusted as well. We all know (or are) marijuana aficionados that do anything but.
Let’s consider the benefits, besides the obvious (Beavis chuckle). When most critics think of the magical green leaf, visions of hippies and unwieldy bongs dance in their head. But thankfully, much of that stereotype is being downgraded due to the success of medical marijuana treatment. It has already been clinically and empirically established that medicinal marijuana provides relief for patients suffering from devastating illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. Plus, the benefits for aging seniors are fast being recognized.
We should also consider the economic benefits that come by way of marijuana legalization. California, for one, could use marijuana’s assistance in it’s ailing agricultural industry right now. Quoted from Time Magazine: “It is estimated that pot is the largest cash crop in California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion.” Man, that’s a lot of billions.
Let’s take it further, and talk about financial positives that come from reducing illegal marijuana-related crime. Marijuana proponents argue that decriminalization would subtract the basis for drug cartels. By virtually eliminating the black market for marijuana distribution, we’d deplete the trickle-down resources to the underworld, further lessening the opportunity and market for substantive illegal crime.
And what about taxation? The War on Drugs is more a war on our pocketbooks than anything else, what with overcrowded prisons and police units dedicated to chasing dope dealers. The stark truth is that we actually have much to financially gain by legalizing weed. Money that can be directed towards, for instance, schools and educational resources for our children. According to the LA Weekly, “Legalizing all banned drugs would benefit taxpayers nationwide by $77 billion per year by both generating new tax income and eliminating the costs of enforcement. Since marijuana represents about a third of the illicit-drug economy, legalizing pot would make a difference of roughly $25 billion.”
Man. THAT is a lot of billions.
Shall we consider the detriments? Historically, marijuana has been demonized for its effects and its connotations. Okay, it makes some people lazy and cartoonishly happy (and sometimes uncharacertistically funny). But the reality is no one has ever poisoned themselves with marijuana and no one has ever died as a direct result of smoking weed… ever. Meanwhile, alcohol gets a free pass as a recreational and legal right, although its’ abuse has been linked to cancer, violent crime and behavior, domestic abuse, and sexual assault.. Marijuana use has not. Overall, studies show that marijuana is far less addictive than alcohol, and the long-term health effects are nil compared to that of booze.
I think we’re all mature enough to admit that whether or not marijuana is legalized, those who are going to smoke it, will. And do. It’s fairly easy to obtain, even for minors, in many ways more facile than procuring liquor. There are 600 pot dispensaries sprinkled around Los Angeles, more than Starbucks. And within my own social circle, all are responsible recreational users, limiting smoking mostly to the confines of their private residence. Everyone from artists to cops to attorneys smoke on the DL, and for many, it’s not something that necessarily stops with college graduation. Just because weed is legalized, America will hardly fall into a state of Zombieland. Theoretically it shouldn’t operate any differently from the way it is now, if not improved. There are conjectures that legalization could even result in a decrease of marijuana use, since the associated taboo would be lifted. There is something reminiscent in all this of Prohibition logic.
So what’s it come down to? An irrational sense of legalism, a conservative fence of archaic blanket rules that are not only unreasonable but grounded on speculation and misinformation. Personally, it seems a bit hypocritical to attack marijuana, and spend so much of our resources raining on the cannabis parade when we should be focusing those efforts and tax dollars elsewhere (a plight shared by graffiti). But by criminalizing weed, we are contributing to black market commerce that elevates crime and evades taxation. And we are furthering the baseless myth of marijuana evils. I say, if we’re going to condemn marijuana, we need to apply the same logic to alcohol, to fatty foods, to automobile carcinogens, to plastics, pesticides, gossip rags, olives and mushrooms (just a selfish request), and down the line.
Otherwise, you’re just blowing smoke up our ass.
model: Shay Maria
words and pictures: bobbyhundreds