So, Michael Phelps, that guy who won eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, the most in human history, was caught on photo in an apparent act of smoking pot.
The photo (which I am not posting here out respect for him) was met by mixed reactions of disappointment, dismay, and puzzlement. For why would a legendary athlete, who has the world on his hands and history on his side, resort to Marijuana?
Michael did not disown the picture and in an admirable fashion atypical of real drug users (like the Philippines’ Alabang Boys), he says:
“I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I’m 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public — it will not happen again.”
In 2001, when master rapper Francis Magalona was arrested by the police for cannabis possession, Philippine Daily Inquirer ace columnist Conrado de Quiros wrote an article pushing for the legalization of Marijuana.
I have never tried using MJ, and I think it is too late to indulge in it as I am past the age of youthful explorations, but I find De Quiros’ arguments sound. And they hold water to this day.
MY heart goes out to Francis Magalona. I’ve always found him to be a nice guy, and I for one would find it a great shame if his arrest, presumably for marijuana use, would ruin his career, or indeed curtail his freedom. I know that other people have been jailed for owning, selling, or using marijuana, and that justice would seem to dictate that they do the same thing to him. Either justice applies to all, or it doesn’t apply at all.
Smoking pot is a crime only because we make it so. Which brings me to my point: I cannot for the life of me imagine why we make it so.
Marijuana is not cocaine, heroin, or opium, which are the chemically manufactured drugs that fry the brain (that is literal, as you’d know if you’ve seen the pictures of the brains of people who have overdosed on them) and induce anti-social behavior. I do buy the idea that they induce people to crime. But including marijuana among the list of dangerous drugs is crazy (in the drug-crazed sense of the word) and merely distracts the law enforcers, such as they can be called that, from throwing their undivided attention to the real menace. Worse, it merely adds another layer to police corruption. The normal victims of marijuana busts are not the Magalona types, they are ordinary people who run into checkpoints and end up with sticks in their wallets or in the compartments of their battered-down cars.
Marijuana in fact belongs to the same category as cigarettes or alcohol. [But] nobody seriously thinks of banning cigarettes or alcohol on the grounds that they are harmful to health or that they produce anti-social behavior.
Arguably, cigarettes and alcohol are far more harmful than marijuana. Cigarettes are infinitely more addictive: make no mistake about it, as doctors and patients with lung cancer from smoking warn, smoking is not a habit, it is an addiction. You cannot smoke two packs of marijuana a day, which is the average consumption of heavy smokers. And alcohol produces far more resolutely anti-social behavior. We do not need to go far to see that: the agony pages, also called the Metro section, is full of stories of people who knife each other to death while drinking gin and cops who shoot up karaoke bars while under the influence of St. Michael. I have yet to know of people who did that while laughing their heads off from the effects of the weed.
We want to ban something, let’s ban guns, not marijuana. Banning guns, quite incidentally looks more and more arduous in the face of opposition by gun-crazed, which is infinitely worse than drug-crazed, congressmen. By all means let us regulate marijuana, the way we regulate alcohol and cigarettes.
I do hope Francis Magalona gets back on his feet and continues to tell the youth to say no to drugs. So he smokes pot: I don’t see the contradiction.