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Michael McEwen lives in Trenton, TN, is a Ph.D. student and director of education at First Presbyterian Church.
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OPINION: Mr. Agee, I agree to disagree on legalized marijuana

Jan 20, 2015

 

The Tennessean -  Re: “Legalize marijuana in Tennessee,” by Frederick Agee, Jan. 8.

A few years ago, I became extremely fond of the 20th Century Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. In his 1922 work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he writes: “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
 
In other words, language not only reveals a worldview, it exposes its limits. So, the more a society dialogues, the more “worlds” are exchanged. And when this happens, we inevitably become a marketplace of ideas.
 
I’m not an attorney, nor do I pretend to be.
 
Mr. Agee, whose hometown of Nashville I share and whom I’ve always admired, is far more qualified in legality issues. But I do believe his “language” and hence, his “world(view),” – at least within his recent article – requires more “language” and another “world(view).”
 
First, Mr. Agee’s introduction presses the Tennessean to re-evaluate his or her perspective of the legalization of marijuana, which isn’t a bad concern at all.
 
Unfortunately, the only way “to curb the black market” is “through legalization and regulation (of recreational marijuana).”
 
Mr. Agee then notes Tennessee’s top five-status in violence, and he offers a desperate either-or choice for Tennesseans: do we keep violent criminals out of our communities or nonviolent marijuana offenders?
 
This is a flawed question, but I’ll only address two assumptions briefly: it assumes that all marijuana offenders are nonviolent and also, that all violent criminals don’t buy, sell, and/or use marijuana.
 
Yet, what if there is a probable correlation between marijuana usage and violence? Like the Statistical Analysis Center’s 2013 report?
 
What if this data warranted the hypothesis that violence and drug use often, but not always, go hand-in-hand? (Read pages 17-19 of that report)
 
Indeed, I’m personally open to the reclassification of marijuana of its Schedule 1 status, as the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) position states.
 
To be clear, I echo AAN’s statement to “not advocate for the legalization of marijuana-based products for use in neurologic disorders at this time, as further research is needed to determine the [long-term] benefits and safety of such products.”
 
I take this to be a very viable option for Tennessee, but one that our political leaders and citizens must be educated in.
 
Lastly, he takes the discussion to education via Peyton Manning. Mr. Agee assures the public that marijuana use doesn’t lead to educational woes, as in Colorado's higher education system.
 
But my concern is with the recent study showing a link between daily marijuana use of teenagers and the likelihood (more than 60 percent) that they’ll ever touch a high school diploma; seven times more likely to attempt suicide; and eight times more likely to use other illegal drugs in the future.
 
None of these figures truly claim to care for our children.
 
Before I conclude, let’s say that the State of Tennessee legalizes the recreational use of marijuana with one caveat: they extract tetrahydrocannabinol – the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects – from every plant before being sold.
 
Would Tennesseans still buy marijuana? I believe the answer to this question reveals more about our citizens’ motives as they advocate for/against the legalization of recreational marijuana.
 
So, Mr. Agee, I don’t want to “agree-to-disagree.”
 
This doesn’t promote progress in an economy of ideas. It’s too important of a topic for Tennesseans. But I do hope you and I can “disagree-to-agree.”
 
For now, we both have our disagreeing “language” and “world(views),” but I hope we (and all Tennesseans) can meet to healthily discuss those disagreements with the aim of true human and civil flourishing.
 

“If you choose to consume, please do so responsibly.” 

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