Why Not Weed?

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Cannabis Leaf (Public Domain/Google Images)

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people succumb to diseases caused by tobacco use. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with illnesses that are related to the use of tobacco products. Many of these diseases include cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. Yet, after all these years of people having health issues from tobacco use, we don’t see any type of effort from our government to make tobacco products illegal. On the other hand, marijuana has been shown to have positive effects on people with various illnesses. People all over the world have consumed cannabis in an effort to fight neurological conditions, and to relieve the painful side effects of chemotherapy. There are no medicinal benefits to be gained from tobacco products, but yet cannabis has been beneficial to society more so than tobacco, which leads us to the question, if tobacco products are legal in this country, why not weed?

There’s been a great deal of propaganda against marijuana over the years. There was a film that was made in the late 1930’s entitled Reefer Madness. It was first funded by a church group as a lesson in morality to show the dangers of marijuana use. It was exploited on a wider scale by producer Dwain Esper from the late 1930’s to the 1950’s. This film basically portrays marijuana as a drug that influences people to kill, rape, and commit other unspeakable and violent acts. This film was actually used for satirical purposes in the 1970’s by marijuana activists. There’s been much paranoia and propaganda in an effort to keep cannabis an illegal substance. Fake news articles, like the one that was posted last year that stated many had died or either had adverse effects from using marijuana in Colorado, completely misinform people. I was speaking with someone in law enforcement and they said that they’ve seen people get in car accidents and commit other crimes under the influence of alcohol, but it is rare that someone commits crimes under the influence of marijuana.

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Anti-Marijuana Propaganda From The 1930’s (Wikimedia Commons/Google Images)

There are many who state that marijuana is a gateway drug but there’s not much merit in that argument. Hell, anything could be a gateway drug. Over-the-counter medications could lead to an addiction to painkillers or other substances. It’s been proven in studies that alcohol consumption could lead to heavier drugs. Caffeine consumption could lead to amphetamine abuse. Anything could lead to something more drastic but over-the-counter medications, alcohol, and caffeine aren’t illegal. If someone is not getting the desired effects from a particular substance, it’s possible that they will try something stronger until they satisfy their desires. Also, I’ve heard people state that marijuana alters your consciousness, but so does alcohol, so there’s no logical argument there. Should alcohol be illegal? I don’t think it should, but you get the point. Stating that marijuana is a gateway drug is illogical, whenever some of the people making this statement would not hesitate to consume alcohol or any other legal substance for that matter. It doesn’t really make much sense, does it?

Although the medicinal benefits of cannabis have yet to be fully realized, due to the lack of research, which is a causality of it being illegal in most nations, there appears to be positive effects from cannabis use by individuals with certain illnesses. While it probably isn’t healthy to overindulge on cannabis, it isn’t healthy to overindulge on fast food, but Wendy’s or McDonald’s isn’t illegal. With the above-mentioned conditions and other illnesses such as glaucoma, epilepsy, and Dravet syndrome, marijuana has been beneficial in reducing the effects of such ailments. Cannabis is no worse for you than tobacco products. At the present time, marijuana is considered to be a Schedule I drug. Our elected officials are taking an in-depth look at the drug, exactly why it was deemed illegal, and it is indeed plausible that it could very well become legal in the future. Many of the reasons that marijuana is illegal are outdated and illogical. We need to embrace the mindset of today, and leave behind the mentality of the past in regards to marijuana laws and many other issues. This nation could generate billions of dollars in revenue by legalizing it. I’m not a consumer of cannabis, but I don’t see much logic as to why it is illegal. To reiterate what I’ve said before, if tobacco products, alcohol, and other harmful substances are legal across this nation, then why not weed?

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

– Carl Sagan

A Fifteen Dollar an Hour Federal Minimum Wage Is Not a Good Solution

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Sentiment Held By Supporters of a Fifteen Dollar an Hour Minimum Wage (Tiffany Proveaux)

There’s been much debate in recent years over raising the federal minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour to benefit the working poor and to combat poverty. Supporters of this wage increase have stated that their objective was to have every worker in this nation make at least fifteen dollars an hour for the services in which they render. Certain states and cities have mandated a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage in response to this ever-growing movement. While we certainly need to implement increases in the wages of those who work these types of jobs over a period of time, a fifteen dollar an hour federal minimum wage is not a good solution. Here’s why.

Think about it, what exactly is the minimum wage? The minimum wage is basically the floor value for wages. It is the lowest hourly wage an employer can compensate an employee for their services. Take that in for a second. If the minimum wage is the floor value in regards to pay, what happens if you raise it? It will still be the lowest wage an employer can compensate an employee for their services. You might ask, where am I going with all of this? Well, the point is, if the federal minimum wage were tripled from what it is now, minimum wage earners would still be at the bottom in terms of hourly wages. Supporters of this initiative have often stated that this measure would be effective in the fight against poverty, placing individuals above the poverty line. However, if these companies implemented price increases in response to this initiative, that would lead to further inflation, and over time, the poverty line would be adjusted for inflation, leaving those who earn the minimum wage right where they have always been, which is, for the most part, struggling to get by, as well as being below the poverty line.

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Cashier Counting Money Back To Customer (Jeff Greenberg/Photolibrary/Getty Images)

A large percentage of minimum wage earners are employed by small businesses across this nation. It seems that the mindset of people pushing these initiatives is that these businesses can afford such an increase in the cost of labor. When I was employed in the beverage distribution industry, I dealt with a lot of small business owners, and a lot of these businesses struggled just to keep the lights on. These small businesses couldn’t absorb the cost of paying their employees fifteen dollars an hour in parts of the country where the cost of living is much lower. That would ultimately be disastrous to these businesses. If these small businesses close, those who are employed by them are going to be out of a job. So, what good is that going to do for the minimum wage earner? If these businesses can’t absorb the cost, then the only other option that they really have is to pass the burden of cost on to the consumer. This would, once again, either put the small companies out of businesses due to lagging sales caused by the price increase, or it would be inflationary because businesses would have to implement price increases. Businesses would have to devise a way to cover paying higher wages. Minimum wage earners would be right back where they started from at the end of the day or worse, they could be unemployed.

It’s not that anyone should struggle and fail to provide an adequate living, but it is entirely fair to point to everyone that the minimum wage is always going to be the minimum wage. It’s a terrible experience whenever someone pours their heart and soul into a paycheck and they can’t even make ends meet. The only way to combat poverty and truly assist those who are considered the working poor is through economic opportunity, training, education, etc. Whenever our elected officials are making promises to raise the minimum wage to give people a better life, they are only talking pillow talk so they can get elected to another term. Raising the federal minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour is not a good solution, and will more than likely do more harm than good for the very people that it is attempting to assist.

“It takes nothing to stay in poverty, but everything to break free from it.” 

– Idowu Koyenikan

 

 

We Shouldn’t Make Any Cuts to the Free and Reduced School Lunch Program

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Students Getting Lunch In a School Cafeteria (Tim Lauer/USDA/Flickr/Google Images)

In the news recently, there was a comment made by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about free lunches for low-income students. According to Mrs. DeVos, she was joking around while delivering a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference when she stated that she was the “first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  These comments are included with the sentiment felt by some in Washington that there should be cuts to the free and reduced lunch program for children from low-income households. There is no such thing as a free lunch. I agree with Mrs. DeVos on that notion, as these programs are funded by the federal government, however, we shouldn’t make any cuts to the free and reduced school lunch program.

No child should ever have to go hungry here in the United States. No child should have to worry about whether they are going to be able to get the proper nutrition. According to feedingamerica.com, over 13 million children live in food-insecure households. In the 2014 – 2015 school year, 21.5 million low-income children were beneficiaries of the national school lunch program. We cannot allow children to go hungry in this nation by denying them free lunches or any other type of free meals in school. If we allow this, then we have ultimately failed as a nation. The meals served in school may be the only meals that these children get to eat. That is horrible, but in some instances, this is the cold hard truth.

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School Lunch (USDA/Flickr/Google Images)

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “If you can’t afford them, you shouldn’t have them.” First of all, I don’t think that most people can ever completely afford to have children, but I do agree that if you can’t take care of yourself, then you probably shouldn’t consider bringing another life into this world. This isn’t fair to the child. There are certainly some people who shouldn’t be procreating, however, there are a lot of circumstances that are beyond the control of the parents. There could be illness or injury, perhaps even the death of a spouse that limits the earning power of the household. There could be layoffs, someone in the household could’ve lost their job. These parents could very well be working hard, but the money may not be there. We certainly shouldn’t pass judgment on a situation before we have all of the facts. Not every situation is the same. Regardless of what is going on with the household income, we can’t hold the children responsible. They didn’t ask to be brought into these situations, and they shouldn’t be denied food based on the inability of their parents or custodians to pay. The children shouldn’t be made victims of all of this.

We have yet to see what kind of cuts congress has planned to implement with these programs. Regardless, they should fully understand the value of our children and appreciate that fact. To reiterate what I said earlier, I realize that there is no such thing as a free lunch. At some point, somewhere down the line, there is a monetary value attached to that. Making cuts to these programs, or abolishing them, would be the same as taking a meal away from these children because their parents weren’t able to pay. As a society, we cannot allow for this to happen. While free or reduced lunches aren’t actually free, being someone has to pay for it, we can’t allow our children to go hungry.

“In a time of tight budgets, difficult choices have to be made. We must make sure our very limited resources are spent on priorities. I believe we should have no higher priority than investing in our children’s classrooms and in their future.”

– Bob Riley

 

Violent Demonstrations Are Completely Unacceptable

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Limousine Burning During Anti-Trump Riots (Stefan Jeremiah/REX/Shutterstock/Google Images)

In the wake of the many decisions that the Trump Administration has made, as well as the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, there have been many peaceful demonstrations with people acting in accordance with their rights as protected by our constitution. To the contrary, there have also been riots in response to these decisions, as well as the Inauguration of President Donald Trump. Watching the news, you can see people smashing out windows, starting fires, and just generally wreaking havoc in the areas that these violent events have occurred. Violent demonstrations, or riots as they are called, are uncalled for and completely unacceptable.

Violent demonstrations are not a way to get positive results. The only results from violent demonstrations are potential injuries and fatalities, destruction of property, and deployments of law enforcement personnel as well as the National Guard. Let’s not forget that these violent activities cost the taxpayers a significant amount of money. Riots in recent years have cost the taxpayers well into the millions of dollars. Anytime events like these occur, there’s also lost revenue by the businesses who sustain damage. Businesses can’t be operational if they are burned to the ground. These establishments can’t do business if they have an angry mob threatening the safety of their employees, customers, etc. Do you think that is fair to the business owners? What do you think that does to the employees that work there? Is it fair to them that they lose wages, maybe even getting laid off due to the fact that their employer has to close up shop to rebuild? Most people have bills to pay and other responsibilities. It’s not fair to these people that they have to get behind financially because there are some of us who want to act like children and throw tantrums when we don’t get our way.

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Chaos On The Streets Resulting From a Violent Demonstration (Flickr/Wikipedia Commons/Google Images)

Whenever a group of individuals resort to rioting, looting, and destroying other people’s property, it negatively represents the cause that they are attempting to represent. Instead of representing a particular cause as a group of activists, these individuals represent themselves as being nothing but violent criminals. Look at the bigger picture here, the average citizen watching the news is more than likely going to see the riots that are occurring before they see the videos of people peacefully protesting. That casts a shade on the cause that you are fighting for. That diminishes the support that you have for your cause, and quite frankly, it shows your stupidity. When people are arrested for engaging in this sort of behavior, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

There are ways to conduct yourself if you oppose a presidential administration, or decisions being made by government officials. If you disagree with what is going on, then make your displeasure known by protesting peacefully, contacting your local government representative, starting a movement, and voting. You can enact change without instilling fear and causing destruction in the community. People who cause this type of destruction do society more harm than good. Violent demonstrations accomplish absolutely nothing with the exception of making the participants of such behavior look foolish. Period.

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

– John F. Kennedy