Why Are Stoners So Angry?
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Why Are Stoners So Angry?


I have always been for the legalization—or at least decriminalization—of marijuana. My pro-pot stance isn’t for my personal benefit (being sober and all) but more for the benefit of people whom marijuana helps. While it’s definitely stressful to be a recovering alcoholic in Los Angeles and have to endure the pungent odor of pot smoke every time I so much as walk down the street, it seems like a small inconvenience to endure for a better use of our tax dollars. Cancer, glaucoma and epilepsy aside, there are people who successfully use weed to manage their anxiety and I do believe that smoking pot is probably better for your body than taking something like Paxil (though recovering addicts don’t have the luxury of that choice). There are also people who use marijuana as an alternative to alcohol for various reasons like weight management or to avoid a hangover. Some people simply enjoy being stoned more than being drunk and I think they should have the right to exercise that option without legal consequences. But for a drug that is supposed to chill you the f**k out, the level of anger and defensiveness that cannabis advocates seem to have when it comes to legalization is shocking. It makes me question what is actually behind their crusade and if I want to be a part of it.

I’ve written about my exasperation with the media hoopla around the legalization of marijuana. My focal point was the chronicling of historical “facts” about the various uses of marijuana over the years as some kind of fuel for the pro-pot movement. I received some feedback—calling my piece “critical of the movement” (here I thought it was critical of the media hoopla)—pointing out that some pro-legalization people are “fighting” (a term used very figuratively) to stop law enforcement and the judicial system from sending “non-white people to jail” more so than it is about the “inaccurate reporting of historical facts” (hopefully someone will let Roger Roffman at The Daily Beast know he’s got it all wrong).

Even though addressing this facet of marijuana legalization would not have made a bit of sense in my article about media, I did find the concept of non-white incarceration as being a main motivation behind someone’s support of the pro-legal pot movement rather interesting. I am constantly reading pro and con arguments about the legalization of cannabis and rarely find jail time of non-Caucasians to be a highlighted issue; however, I am sure that all the non-white drug traffickers, who I guess we are assuming only deal in the distribution of marijuana, will be very happy to know that there are some people out there who are in this “fight” for them.

I decided to explore this issue and found a piece in The Daily Signal debunking myths about marijuana use being fine. It lists all the base-rate things you have heard about pot smoking from pot smokers: it’s non-addictive, it’s medicinal, it’s safer than booze, legalization will help the economy, regulation and treatment are a waste of resources. But the article also points out the stats on people (although they don’t specify race) who are incarcerated as a result of smoking pot. According to the author, who is admittedly against the legalization of marijuana, less than 0.3 percent of state prisoners are serving time for smoking marijuana. However, after following the cited link, it seems the data he based his argument on was collected in 2004.

So I went further and found a HuffPo article from March of this year reporting that 27.6% of drug offenders were locked up as a result of marijuana-related crimes. I am not sure if that means the crime itself was marijuana—as in the possession, trafficking or dealing of it—or if that number includes crimes that occurred as a result of the offender being stoned (which obviously legalizing marijuana wouldn’t solve). What I would really like to know is how many people are serving prison time for smoking pot, being in possession of pot, trafficking or dealing—the percentage of people whose legal troubles would be alleviated if marijuana were legalized.

While I really do understand that cannabis advocates need to fight for their right to party, I just wish it wasn’t so uncomfortably desperate at times. At this point, we all pretty much get that there are benefits to legalizing marijuana as much as there are downsides. Pros and cons depend on who you ask and are based on individual value systems. But it sure would be refreshing if more advocates would lose the defensive and self-righteous indignation about their higher cause for the greater good of humanity and just admit that they want pot to be legal because they like smoking it.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.