18 States Set to Legalize by 2020

Arc-view market research is releasing a report in February that predicts 18 states will legalize marijuana by 2020. Who could have imagined this? Even if the research firms soothsaying abilities never materialize, talking about this is a tectonic shift, not unlike the newly minted nonchalance about gay marriage.

But what does this mean for the average person? Will we walk through Cheech-and-Chong-density marijuana smoke? Is it a risk to public safety? What about the kids, isn't it always about the kids?

February 1 marks 18 intoxication-free years for me. Paradoxical that I would adamantly support marijuana legalization but I do. So should you and here is why:

Most people, millions and millions of them, are able to tolerate occasional intoxication without life impairment. Sadly, I'm not one of them, but oh how I wish I were. My choice is not virtue, it's a desire to do what's right for me, or what seems to be right. Legislating people into walking my path is wrong. It would be like basing candy sales on data for diabetics only, not the general population.

Criminalizing intoxication doesn't address the problem of intoxication. It just creates a fusion of problems. Instead of being impaired by substance use, one is impaired by substance use and a criminal. This helps nobody. It can be used as leverage or coercion but the benefits of that, if any, don't come close to outweighing the cost.

It's a matter of liberty. Who should decide if one can use intoxication? I'm always amazed that "small government advocates" support the criminalization of drugs. It raises questions about moral posturing and motivation or perhaps just looking at the issue through a new lens. If the government can't tell you who to live or who to marry, they shouldn't be able to tell you what to put into your own body.

Incarceration is costly, and inhumane, it should be used as sparingly as possible. Our prisons are a disgrace. The distraction of the drug war is a far greater risk to public safety than drugs themselves. Think of the hours that could be put toward murders and rapists that are lost on arresting people rolling joints. Presented as a choice, who would Americans rather see off the streets? A murderer or a stoner? How about 100 stoners on the loose for every murderer caught?

The kids? Nobody wants kids to smoke marijuana. The truth is, their developing minds and bodies cannot tolerate any intoxication. Of course ideals are just that, and seldom do they intersect at reality. Regulating marijuana increases the chances of it not falling into the hands of kids. People who currently sell it are already criminals, not paying taxes, why would they ask for ID? There is a weak argument that claims legalization is the wrong message to send to kids. The argument is as weak as the parents claiming it. Anyone who wants to rely on the government to oversee their children needs to spend more time at the DMV to see how effective government systems can be.

The hypocrisy of alcohol. Anyone who drinks or sells alcohol and doesn't support marijuana legalization is a hypocrite. Plain and simple. At the moment, that is a massive number of people as well as American life and culture. As a recovering person, one of the things I hope I am "less" of is judgmental. Like Pope Francis, "who am I to judge?"

Eighteen states by 2020? Let's hope so.