Many people blame the government for the war on drugs because the government refuses to legalize the drug. But the war on drugs isn’t as shortsighted as proponents of legalization would like to think. Legalizing marijuana will not solve all of our drug war problems and certainly won’t make our country a better place to live.

Advocates of legalization propositions say that a federally regulated marijuana market will drive the cost of marijuana down, decrease the crime rate and thus decrease the wasted efforts put forth by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The federal government spends billions of dollars each year in an effort to undermine drug distribution throughout the country. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2006, about 6,000 people a day used marijuana for the first time, a total of 2.2 million Americans. Of these, 63.3 percent were under age 18. So when the government legalizes pot for people over 21, as any of its attempted legislation has stated, it won’t suddenly eliminate the demand for marijuana of those underage users. The war on drugs will continue.

The concept that marijuana is less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol may be a true statement to some degree but isn’t a cause for legalization. Standards should not be set on degree of harmfulness, but degree of helpfulness. Also, let’s not forget that the tobacco industry won’t just step aside to let a brand new business take over the market. Should marijuana become legal, who do you think will first start the mass manufacturing? My guess of Marlboro is a good one. But Camel is a decent choice, too. And if Marlboro wants to keep people smoking pot just like it does with tobacco, it may start putting a couple “harmless ingredients” into the mixture to help a little. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to which of the three drugs is the worst for you.

While the revenue stream may be helpful to the economy from a monetary standpoint, at what cost do we seek out this fortune? Juxtapose thinking only with a monetary mindset, why shouldn’t California lower the drinking age to 18? Our tourism industry will increase tenfold, with millions of 18 year olds trekking across our border in search of their state’s forbidden fruit. Besides the fact that the federal government would revoke several of our subsidiaries, the reason we don’t do this is because of the health impact it would have on the general public and state-to-state relations. Having a bunch of 18 year olds driving across the border to get drunk and then driving back home isn’t a good thing. The cost outweighs the benefits, just like with marijuana. The cost is far worse than the potential monetary benefits.

I’m all for medical marijuana. If you’re in pain, it’s no different to be prescribed marijuana rather than morphine or Vicodin. But I’m not about to push for the full legalization of the latter two drugs either. Legalization is incentivizing, and the costs of incentivizing weed among our nation’s youth are scary, at best. While there may be some four million people smoking weed in our country now, imagine encouraging it among the rest. I can’t think of a better way to stimulate our economy than to inject into it a tool that entirely destroys ambition and motivation. Excuse the language, but nothing says “fuck it” like a big dose of THC in the morning. Instead of mandatory 15 minute “smoking breaks” for cigarette-smoking workers, employers will have to implement new hours for pot-smoking workers: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Wednesday. Nike may have to change their slogan from “Just Do It” to “Just Don’t.” I can see the potential now.