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The Daily Tar Heel

Just Say `Know' to Marijuana

There exists a problem in this country today. It is the lack of information from our government's own experiments that truly can be trusted. In this case, I am speaking of marijuana laws and a movement to change them.

It seems to be almost impossible to move other citizens to change their opinions on ideas. Why is this? There is a simple explanation: No one knows what information is truth, partial truth, extreme exaggeration or plain lies. There exist hundreds upon hundreds of Web sites, books, scholastic journals and pamphlets that explain in full detail, including statistics that you will never decipher, why marijuana should or should not be legalized (truth).

Who knows whom or what to trust? The problem is not necessarily the actual marijuana plant, but people's misinformed ideas. This is where we get to the root of the problem.

There is a huge amount of information the government must have lost sight of or assumed we, as citizens with unlimited resources, already knew. A good example of this would be why marijuana is illegal in the first place. The Marijuana Tax Act made it illegal in 1937 (truth). I'm sure that you all knew it was because of racism against blacks, Mexicans and Chinese immigrants and the threat to the cotton industry (truth, but don't take my word for it).

There were not at that time, as there are now, laboratories doing research that cost millions of someone's tax dollars. It seems as though the government made a great prediction about how bad marijuana was for people.

So what did they do? They made the decision to make it illegal, because we are not smart enough to make our own decisions. This might be the greatest thing the federal government ever has done for the American people (complete lie). But who really knows, right?

Another simple, yet classic, example of misinformation is the existence of experimenter bias. If there ever has existed experimenter bias in a lab, it is running rampant in labs that pertain to marijuana (mostly true). Maybe it's because all that marijuana is somehow getting good, ethical scientists stoned and they are making bad judgments all because of the marijuana.

Let's assume that we have all heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It states that we see what we want to see, although this is not so obvious at the time.

It is my idea that on both sides of the table this exists. What better way to lose your job and/or credibility than by telling the president that "pot just ain't that bad for you?"As a result, this has rarely happened. The major problem with bias against marijuana is that it keeps something from those who prefer it, while those that don't use it are not affected by it.

Should marijuana be legalized? I say that the question we should ask is "Is our government giving us all the information we need to know?" If not, why?

I chose not to fill this paper with tons of statistics because they all would be falsified in some journal published by the government (truth). I hope that you will be more critical in your analysis of the information you receive from the outside world, especially when certain information spends your tax money (truth); imprisons more people daily, especially minorities (truth); denies the sick their preference in medicine choice (truth); allows for more environmental degradation with each T-shirt made (truth); and turns young adults away from their own government (truth).

The answer for America seems painfully obvious (borderline lie). But, the fact remains if it were so obvious to the American people, you could peacefully smoke a joint in the quad as you read this.

If you want to see facts that might or might not be biased, check these Web sites: www.norml.org, www.votehemp.com, www.hightimes.com, www.aclu.org, www.hempgrowers.com, www.ncgov.com, www.greenparty.org.uk/drugs, www.loc.gov, or e-mail President Clinton at president@whitehouse.gov.

David Holmes can be reached at dholmes7@email.unc.edu.

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