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Should Public Cannabis Consumption Be Allowed?

When discussing the topic of banning cannabis consumption in public, you are also inviting a wider discussion about what we can and cannot do within a public space.

In New York City, when they allowed public smoking of marijuana, arrests declined significantly. Sounds like a no brainer — if it’s legal to smoke weed in public, cops can’t arrest you. Except, in some places there are grey areas and cops like to exploit these grey areas to increase arrest records and feel like they are “enforcing the LAW!”

It turns out that all you have to do for cops not to do something is to make it legal. The police is blind to the moral consequences of law — they simply enforce it. You know, like Superior Orders!

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However, the issue of public cannabis consumption isn’t limited to New York City; it’s a topic that will most definitely come up in every future legalization debate from now until cannabis is completely integrated into society.

Here, we’ll be addressing this question, the potential fears people expect would happen, and whether this would also apply to tobacco smoke.

The Fears of Public Smoking

The picture that opponents of public smoking would want you to believe is that once you allow public consumption, people would be walking around smoking joints everywhere, all the time.

While it’s true that public consumption would invite the occasional whiff of cannabis smoke, most people are not fans of “walking around smoking marijuana”. With vape devices, they typically take a hit or two and continue with their day. Smoking joints simply creates too much smoke — and is usually reserved for parks or outdoor events.

Yet with vaporizers becoming more popular among the youth, it’s safe to say that there will be a greater prevalence of these devices within mass society. If you don’t smoke cannabis, you’d probably not be able to tell the difference between a normal vaporizer and a cannabis infused one. Therefore, unless you have a problem with public vaping, you should technically not take issue with public cannabis consumption.

As for actual joint smoking, you would hardly see or smell them except for days like 4/20.

Smoking Tobacco vs Smoking Cannabis

It turns out that cannabis and tobacco smoking are virtually tied. Roughly 12% of Americans admit to smoking cannabis regularly vs 14% of Americans who smoke tobacco regularly.

Most places ban smoking tobacco indoors, however, when it comes to outdoor consumption there is not an issue. If people believe that smoking cannabis outdoor should be banned, then the obvious question we would need to ask is, “What about tobacco?”

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If tobacco is not seen as a problem, it would be hypocritical to criminalize public consumption of one but not the other. If euphoria is the reason why public cannabis consumption is barred, we would have to point out that tobacco has a psychological and neurological effect on users and that the second hand smoke can create health problems.

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Therefore, when discussing the topic of banning cannabis consumption in public, you are also inviting a wider discussion about what we can and cannot do within a public space. Cannabis users won’t have a problem with adjusting to “private consumption” due to the criminality of the act in the past. Tobacco smokers would die.

How much government do you want?

As someone who has extensively studied the war on drugs, I have zero trust in the government. I have seen branches of the government play a political game for the past 70+ years, bending the rules and the narratives to suit their purposes.

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For me, the smaller the government the better because I have lived as hunted individual by law enforcement simply because I chose to consume a plant. For those who place their blind faith in the government, I fear. These are the people who would think “Just Following Orders” is a justification for murder.

Government is not meant to tell us how to behave; it is meant to ensure that the rights of others aren’t infringed upon. However, by giving government more power, such as the case to dictate what you can and cannot smoke in public, you create a condition of enforcement.

What happens when you don’t comply?

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Well, government looks weak which means that their ability to enforce the norm diminishes. In order to rectify this they have a few options:

  • Increase the perception of the severity of the punishment
  • Increase the brutality of enforcement

The first one they achieve with their prison sentencing programs, where they give arbitrary years for crimes. There is no scientific method applied to giving someone “14 years for selling plant.”

The second one they achieve with militarizing the police, providing immunity to being prosecuted of crimes, and protecting police overreach.

Now, compliance is facilitated over the very real threat of death by cop. Allowing the government jurisdiction over your outdoor activities in such a way simply creates more space for them to operate their intimidation tactics.

The Sticky Bottom Line

We need to always be working to expand our personal liberties as much as possible. There may be some people who take smoking publicaly to the next level and toke up in parks all day. But for most people, we just don’t have the time.

But what public smoking will ensure is that restaurants, bars and music venues would be able to inject a new revenue stream that provides a substance that is arguably safer than the alternative — alcohol.

What you put into your body is your business, and if you want to toke up in public, you should be allowed. Maybe you just needed to clear your head, walk down to the park and spark one.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.

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