Ziggy Marley: Why Marijuana Should Be Legal

Ziggy Marley recently did an interview with US Magazine with the release of his fourth solo album on the horizon. They talked about the new album, his family, the 30th anniversary of his fathers death, and of course his views on marijuana. Here is an excerpt of the interview:

US: Marijuana is also a topic on the album and your new comic book, Marijuana Man. Why do you think it should be legalized in America?

ZM: Alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical drugs are legal but they can hurt a lot of people. People get high from cough syrup that they can easily purchase at the pharmacy. Marijuana has a lot of benefits that we should utilize. People shouldn’t go to jail for smoking marijuana in the privacy of their homes or be criminalized or demonized by that. I don’t think it is as detrimental as alcohol in terms of the effects it has on society and people’s lives. Anything can be abused and overdosed so you have to be responsible. Plus, the industrial aspect of marijuana has had a bigger impact on society than even the recreation or medicinal uses. If people can utilize a natural resource properly, the impact it would have on the environment and the economy would be great. The argument against marijuana is confusing and hypocritical and stupid. It is a natural resource that we should use.

Ziggy nails it on the head, it’s absolutely disgusting that people think they can rule over your own body, that they know what’s best for you. People got upset over the NYPD confiscating 2.5 tons of illegal fireworks and blowing them up, claiming freedom this and that. But a plant? No, no, no, confiscate that shit, we can’t have people making their own decision there, that’s dangerous. Ziggy also spoke about his comic book

US: Why did you launch the comic book?
ZM: It was a creative outlet for me since I had a lot of ideas my head. I grew up in the comic book world and I used to read comics all the time. It was just a way for me to express the ideas I have about hemp. I have also always wanted to have a superhero. The superhero in my book is just like a kin to Superman and the Green Lantern guys, a superhero for the next generation.

Enforcement of the Drug War in the United States has resulted in 32 deaths so far in 2011, the latest being Nelson Reeves, a 17 year old in the Bronx who was shot by a NYPD narcotics officer when a drug deal went awry. Whenever you outlaw something, the demand does not go away and the supply, manufacture and selling goes underground to the black market, which attracts many shady people.

Some people are block-headed enough to think that drugs need to be illegal because of all the violence associated with people who use or sell them. They aren’t with it enough to realize it’s the illegality that leads to all the violence. Before alcohol prohibition you never had gangs running around and killing each other over alcohol, and you don’t have it now that it’s legal. Without alcohol prohibition you never would have had Al Capone and events like the St. Valentines Day Massacre.

Alcohol prohibition brought us bathtub gin, gin made by amateurs in their bathtubs and contaminated with god knows what. Just the same, drug prohibition has brought us amateurs cooking meth in their kitchens and lacing other drugs with deadly chemicals whether on purpose or by accident, leading to medical related deaths. Deaths that most likely would not happen if all drugs were legal and able to be made in controlled environments by professionals.

Drug prohibition, just like alcohol prohibition, leads to a number of cops becoming corrupt. Drug dealers are always looking for ways to get their products past law enforcement in order to meet their customers demand, so they buy off easily corruptible cops to look the other way as they move their merchandise. The more the government cracks down, the more expensive the drugs become and the more they have to pay the cops to allow them to continue business. The police are even sometimes just as bad as the drug dealing gang members they vow to fight, as one teenager in Pakistan just found out when he reported on some local cops dealing drugs.

The insane Drug War has caused a lot of damage to cops reputations across the United States and around the world as well. With so much money to be made due to the black market aspect, some cops will become drug dealers themselves, often selling drugs confiscated during raids of other dealers homes. Three Philadelphia police officers were arrested for this very thing last summer. And two years ago a undercover cop in North Carolina was caught selling drugs to another undercover cop. I could go on and on, or you could look it up for yourself. I googled  “Cops Dealing Drugs” and received over 62 million results.

There is more to the rise in crime than just selling drugs. As the prices continue to rise with every crackdown, a drug users habit becomes more and more expensive and they get more desperate. They begin robbing places like convenience stores and banks and break into homes, and some even kill during the robberies. And nothing highlights the governments failure in the War on Drugs better than their inability to keep drugs out of their own prison. Prison guards are arrested constantly for smuggling drugs into prison, and why not, it pays well and they have a family to feed during a recession.

And then there is the jails where they keep all these drug offenders. In what is always labeled as the Land of the Free, prisons are constantly overcrowded as some holler for more prisons to be built to house all these lawbreakers. The “Land of the Free”(sic) over 2.5 million people were in jail as of 2006, the number of people in prison in the entire world at that time was estimated at 9.25 million. If you do the math it comes out to 27% of the worlds prison population(The US has less than 5% of the worlds total population), many of them peaceful people who chose to put something into their body the government decided to say they couldn’t.

To better put those numbers into perspective, nations generally regarded as being totalitarian and oppressive like Russia and China have far less people in prison. Russia’s prison population was just under 870,000 in October of 2006, down from over 1 million in 2002. China’s prison population was estimated at 2 million in 2005. But as you can see in the map below, China only had between 100-150 people per 100,000 in prison in 2008. Russia has nearly 600 per 100,000 people. The “Land of the Free” is the only country with over 700 people per 100,000 in prison.


You might think that we just have a lot of violent people who are doing terrible things, except that of the over 2.5 million people in US prisons, nearly half of them are drug users. According to Drug Sense, over 967,000 people have been arrested in the United States so far in 2011 for Drug War offenses. That number is expected to exceed the 1,663, 582 arrests in 2009.  And that budget crisis everyone is worried about, well the Feds spent $15 billion last year on the Drug War alone, or $500 a second. So far they have spent $8.75 billion this year. The prison population in this country has grown by more than 43,000 prisoners a year on average since December 31,1995. Twenty-five percent of that are people who violated some form of drug law. The number of people in state prisons for drug offenses has increased 550 percent over the last 20 years. (A Salon article last year put the number in federal prison at half the total population

If you support the drug war, you are supporting gangs, corrupt police, robbery, murder and overcrowded prisons. So don’t blame us when we judge you for it.

Supporting the drug war means supporting innocent deaths at the hands of police, who sometimes get the wrong addresses. Some of those stories have been covered here at Cop Block (see here, here, and here)

There are many brutal consequences to this War on Drugs and it’s time to end this abject failure. Some state governments are beginning to realize this, my state of Indiana being the latest.

Ziggy Marley is the man for speaking out and for that we should all support this man


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