Athlete A is found unconscious behind the wheel of his car and is determined to be under the influence of a highly addictive, severely impairing drug that accounts for thousands of deaths annually.
Athlete B is not found to be under the influence of anything, but is determined to be in possession in his home of a drug that is about as addictive as caffeine, is far less impairing, and after millennia of use, has never been found to have caused a single death.
Athlete A gets his driver's license suspended for 30 days - the maximum for a first offense - draws four days of home incarceration, and misses a postseason game. Athlete B faces possible felony charges leading to a fine of up to $10,000 and 5 years in prison. If convicted, his career is likely over.
Athlete A, of course, is Louisville cornerback Darius Ashley, who pled guilty Tuesday to DUI charges stemming from a December 3 arrest which led him to miss the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. Athlete B is Nick DeLeon, a standout midfielder on UofL's soccer team, whose home was found yesterday to contain "a large amount" of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia. He and roommate Brock Granger, along with swim & dive team frosh Cameron Dehn, are charged with trafficking and possession of paraphernalia. If the "large amount" is more than half a pound, but less than five pounds, it is a felony charge with the above maximum sentences. The three are currently under "investigative suspension" while their case is reviewed by the University.
By any objective measure, cannabis is far less dangerous than alcohol, oxycontin, Benadryl, or even aspirin. It causes little or no harm in and of itself. It has been used for thousands of years around the world, and people are going to continue to use it. We can't change that. Cannabis prohibition, on the other hand, makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens who aren't hurting anyone; leads directly to violence and crime by creating a lucrative black market; and destroys lives over petty offenses. That, we can change. How many careers and lives have to be ruined before our government realizes that prohibition simply does not work? How long will it be until they see that today's marijuana laws are far more damaging than marijuana itself?
It's maybe ironic - or maybe not even coincidental - that DeLeon, Granger and Dehn were arrested on 4/20, the day students and others around the country celebrate as weed's holiday, the day the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has legalization rallies all around the country. I urge my fellow Chronicloids, whether you personally engage in cannabis use or not, to educate yourselves on the facts (NORML's website is a good place to start), and then let your legislators know how you feel. Prohibition affects you whether you use or not, just as alcohol prohibition in the Roaring Twenties affected drinkers and non-drinkers alike. It's time to stop treating people like criminals because they choose what a DEA judge called "one of the safest pharmaceutically active substances known to man" over other, far more dangerous intoxicants.
Sorry if this has been off topic, but it pains and angers me to see these kids' lives ruined for possession of weed, when other drugs that cause so much more harm are accepted and even glorified in our culture.