When I was in fifth grade, my elementary school spent a good two weeks participating in the D.A.R.E. program.
From what I can remember, this program consisted of a cop or something coming into our classroom and conducting exercises that could help us fight against drugs and stay clean. Of course this completely makes sense, because being the impressionable 11-year-old I was, I was always fighting off shadowy drug dealers on my way home from school.
The issue I have with this program is not the intention, it is important for kids to know the dangers of both drug and alcohol abuse, but this program never really fully educated me. I never really knew what I was fighting, I just knew that it was scary and I should fight it off with my D.A.R.E. coloring book that depicted scary drug dealers and a weird rabbit who was trying to influence me to take drugs to be cool.
It wasn’t until I was about 17 that I realized that the scary drug dealer in my coloring book in reality would be a nice guy named Eric and that Bunny actually would become a very persuasive ex-girlfriend. My point is, when you get older you begin to realize that drugs are not just scary monsters in a kids book. Drugs like marijuana have developed an entire culture and thriving business.
For me, the benefit of legalizing marijuana is the abolition of the taboo. For years as a kid I was always exposed to the idea that drugs are evil and would turn your friends into drop outs who will amount to nothing.
It wasn’t until high school that I realized that weed does not make someone evil, it only makes them talk a lot and eat things.
Early in President Obama’s term he announced that the federal government would no longer intervene with marijuana dispensaries, allowing for growing businesses to open without fear of over closure.
With this announcement, the legalization of marijuana and the abolishment of the taboo is slowly becoming a reality. It’s difficult to write something about marijuana that has not been said before. Many pro legalization arguments like the benefit of suffering patients, the disappearance of illegal pot dealers, or the money it would bring into the economy have been said thousands of times before.
But there is nothing I hate more than when something so small is blown way out of proportion. Marijuana is a prime example. It is no more dangerous than alcohol; they both have their own risks, but when used appropriately they can be acceptable in our society.
In this day and age what does it even matter anymore? What people do in their own homes is their private business.
With every new step towards the inevitable legalization of marijuana, the business that has been built around it thrives. Oakland University has a school that teaches future students of medicine how to grow and house marijuana and California has fewer restrictions on the availability of marijuana for patients.
Judging by what I learned from my D.A.R.E. program as a kid, it’s sad that I was not educated in the bigger dangers of drug abuse.
Looking back at that program the scenario of a shadowy version of Eric coming to me in a dark alley and offering me weed is just stupid.
Michael Escañuelas, a junior English major, is editorial cartoonist for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.