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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stepping up onto the Dope Box

You have probably heard by now, but Barack Obama essentially legalized stem cell research on Monday. 

I know this is two-day-old news. But play along with me like this is the first time you are reading it. There are obvious political and moral implications to this decision and it can be (and probably has been) dissected from a million different angles. I want to take a moment to look at this decision in its most basic form.

It is a decision and our President actually made it.

Duh. Before you think  I have brain damage or that I am dictating this post to a semi-intelligent African Macaw let me explain a little more. I have only been alive for 18 and have only been politically-conscious for about 5 1/2 of those years. It just so happens that my only previous model of what a Presidency looks like is George W. Bush. That was a fairly conservative Presidency, and understandably so, and I am fairly unfamiliar with any one actually sticking their neck on the line and making a definitive decision on a controversial subject.

I have no strong feelings either way on the stem cell issue. I happen to believe that cells, fertilized or not, do not constitute life and have no problem using them to improve the lives of others. But I can see why some people would feel differently and understand that there is a fundamental difference there. So President Obama's decision really doesn't effect me one iota.

It does, however, open the door for decisive action on one of the issues I actually do care about. I try to stay in the dead center of every single political issue or question that our generation has to face. I do not seek conflict and like to see all the sides on every issue. There are only two issues that I actually feel strongly about and will pursue a change of U.S policy in. These issues are equal rights for homosexuals and legalization of marijuana.

It is kind of strange because neither of these issues effect me. I am not gay and to the best of my knowledge, do not have any close friends or family who are gay. I also do not smoke marijuana, or even drink, smoke tobacco or take anything heavier than aspirin for that matter. But those are the only two issues in which I cannot really understand the other side of the argument. 

Gay rights currently looks to be on the ropes with the passing of Proposition 8 in California but a reform of marijuana laws seemed to be a faint possibility for the Obama administration. After all, this is the man who tried it AND inhaled for good measure. Personally, I had my doubts if only because the only Presidency I had ever known was the inactive Bush administration. But if President Obama has the stones to legalize stem cell research, can't he also find the courage to reform marijuana laws.

I would like to do my part right now in trying to convince the President (I am sure he is a regular reader of my blog). I believe myself to be fairly articulate and can be quite chatty at times. But in the case of this issue, I do not have to do anything other than present the facts and statistics. So here they are. I found most of them when I did research for my COMS 103 speech on the same subject and they are presented without any of my additional analysis, thoughts or b.s.

- Alcohol kills close to 150,000 people a year, excluding alcohol-related accidents. (Family Council on Drug Awareness)

- Tobacco kills 350,000 people a year (FCDA)

- Aspirin kills 200 people a year (FCDA)

- Marijuana kills 0.

- Alcohol, Tobacco and Aspirin are legal

- Marijuana isn't.

- As far as human history goes back, no human being has ever been killed by consuming marijuana to excess. A Judge named Francis Young even did extensive research on the drug in 1988 and concluded that it "is safer than many of the foods we commonly consume."

- Alcohol is nearly twice as addictive as marijuana (Time Magazine article)

- 786,000 Americans were arrested in 2005 for using marijuana (National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws)

I just think it is obvious. But that's just me. I am going to step off of my soap box now. I hope Barack Obama will step right back on.

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