Why is alcohol legal, and marijuana illegal?

Maybe there isn’t a factual answer or this, so I may be posting on the wrong board. Is marijuana really that much worse than alcohol that you can pay heavy fines/prison time for it?It seems to me that the government can make some nice profits thru legalizing and taxing marijuana.

I’m not here to answer your question, but it is one I’ve always had. With frequent drunk driving (in spite of laws), boisterous demeanors, fights, spilling, puking and etc. that alcohol promotes; marijuana can’t be that much more anarchist. Sure the herb causes an altered state of mind which may–may–induce someone to aggrege society, but certainly no worse than alcohol. I don’t know too many legislators who are profound chemists; so I am dubious of their ability to evoke law accepting and denying mind altering subtances.

This is more Great Debate territory, as public policy is not a matter of factual answers. :slight_smile:

I agree that this may turn into a debate, but I believe the reason that alcohol is legal and marijuana isn’t is simply a matter of history. Alcohol has been a drug in use by a societies for millenia. The settlers brought wine and beer, and have essentially been drinking alcohol for most of civilized human history. Marijuana, on the other hand, wasn’t really used at all by Europeans and those who settled the US. So, as it came around, it likely got the stigma of being a mind-altering substance, and as it gained popularity in the last 50 years or so, the powers that be didn’t want it out there. But damned if you can take away the beer!

The beer vs. marijuana thing is pretty interesting, though. Health wise, marijuana is similar to tobacco use. In heavy consumption of marijuana vs. alcohol, alcohol is almost certainly more debilitating, causing much greater loss of function, and a much higher chance of dying from direct use. However, in moderate use, the effects are probably less for alcohol. I haven’t smoked weed enough to know whether repeated use in moderation doesn’t affect you mentally, but an adult who drinks one drink isn’t going to fall over drunk.

Part of it is, as Jman said, that alcohol use is woven into our social fabric through millenia of historical use, while marajuana is not. It is celebrated in ancient song and story, and an important part of religious history and practice for Jews and most Christians, among others.

Another part of it is that we (in the U.S.) have tried banning alcohol and it simply didn’t work.

If alcohol (or tobacco, for that matter) had not come into broad social use until the 20th century, it almost certainly would be banned today in the same way other mind-altering drugs are.

This one was just done three months ago. I moved it to Great Debates

I have a book lying around the house that covers the 70 odd greatest inventions/discoveries of ancient times, Marijuana being amongst a number of narcotics mentioned. IIRC, the last Europeans to use it at all were the Vikings, before they all switched to alcohol. This made me wonder, is it easier then to grow the crops that are fermented to make alcohol in Europe than Marijuana? It seems that every country has a staple crop that can be fermented :wink:

As an aside, I have a baby due in the New Year. My smart arse sister was very quick to snap at me that I’ll have to give up smoking dope when the baby arrives (with a very snide look on her face) She didn’t mention anything about giving up alcohol though, oh no.
I can count twice that I got ill and threw up in the bathroom because of smoking dope and numerous evenings spent laughing loudly and getting along great with everyone else in the room. I cannot count the number of times that alcohol had me hurling in the street as a university 1st year, had me arguing (almost to the point of blows struck) with people I don’t really know and the odd bit of mild vandalism.
But, only one of those substances is illegal, go figure…

The historical reasons for illegality are many and various, from trade agreements, misguided crusades, racialism (an easy way of controlling those uppity Negroes and Mexicans) and latterly, international treaty as driven by the DEA.

Am I the only one to sense a conflict of interests with the DEA? They get to seize the assets of anyone they successfully prosecute, and can use the proceeds for their own ends (bigger departments, cars, guns, speedboats etc), so they have a vested interest in maintaining the illegal drugs trade.

If it wasn’t for international treaty, MJ would be legal in many European countries. As pointed out, it would be a great little tax earner. But as long as the DEA set the policy for the rest of the world*, it ain’t gonna happen.

  • I know the whole world is outside their jurisdiction, but their reach is very powerful.

And now would be a good time to point out that excessive marijuana use can make a person a little paranoid.
The real reason, as everyone knows, is that marijuana causes Negros to lust after white women.

I’ve always felt the main reason is that there isn’t all that much tax money to be made off of it. Producing marijuana is much easier than either alcohol or tobacco. You could certainly grow your own tobacco, but you would not be likely to wind up with anything suitable for more than a cigar wrapper. If you’ve ever seen wild tobacco, you recognize thath it is not something you’d want to smoke. You can brew your own beer, but it requires a considerable investment of time, effort and money to produce the one or two failures before you make something you’ll like. Marijuana, on the other hand, will grow pretty much as you know it without cultivation.

Now that’s just wrong, you don’t need a reason or drug to lust after white women. Or Asian, Black, Green or forthat matter any women.

MJ should be legalized but it is going to take at least another 20 years.
Throwing kids in jail for smoking Pot is a silly waste of time.
I love the idea of another easy excellent US cash crop.
Road side stands with Bushel baskets of MaryJane remind me of a classic Bloom County Cartoon.

If you want a fine-quality, tasty beer, it’ll take some trial and error. If you just want something that’ll get you drunk, it’s a heck of a lot easier. You don’t even need to be able to grow anything, to make alcohol (some people just don’t have a green thumb, and some folks live in harsher climates). All you need to make booze is a sack of potatoes from the grocery store. Or rice, or wheat, or fruit, or honey, or pretty much anything organic.