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“I don’t want the surgeon operating on your father to be stoned,” was the first argument I ever heard in opposition to legalizing pot. And I remember my reply: “I don’t want him to be drunk, either,” I said pointing to the beer in front of my Mom. And I think that’s the heart of the issue.

There have been zero deaths attributed to marijuana. Yes, people who are high have died. They have probably caused car crashes. They may have done something stupid while they were stoned that caused their early demise. I don’t see that as a compelling argument to put people in prison for smoking a plant. Stupidity is not caused exclusively by cannabis, and it’s not its only effect.

Yes, but drug dealers are dangerous people. That’s true. During Prohibition, bootleggers were also dangerous people. People were murdered over alcohol. That stopped happening when alcohol became legal again. The same is true of marijuana. You’d be surprised how few dispensary operators are Al Capone.

What is the real objection to marijuana? I suspect that for many people it’s that pot changes the way one perceives the world. It’s a means of altering one’s relationship with reality. That was once accomplished exclusively through religious avenues. Pot is encroaching on religion’s territory.

That’s not a reason to deny someone their liberty.

I’m in favor of laws. They guide our behavior, and they keep us safe. I’m glad there are laws against people hurting one another. Robbery, rape, murder, kidnapping, and speeding are all behaviors that harm others. Those who engage in such behaviors need to be stopped, and, if necessary, denied their freedom to keep them from doing it again.

I don’t see how a man sitting in his backyard smoking pot is hurting anyone. If he gets stoned and gets in his car, yes, by all means, pull him over. He’s putting himself and others at risk. But, if all he is doing is changing his relationship with reality, leave him alone.

The biggest opponents to legalizing marijuana seem to be those who operate for profit prisons. They need the business. The rest of us have no stake in seeing others locked up, and I can’t support destroying someone’s life over a victimless crime.

There are real problems in the world. Smoking pot is none of them. Let’s change these laws so that people can enjoy their lives in the way they choose.