Michael Phelps was recently outed by a British tabloid as a *gasp* marijuana smoker. That means that he's got at least one thing in common with about 42% of the American population. And it simultaneously proves the lie from every single anti-pot PSA ad ever. I mean, now that we can definitively add "multiple gold-medalist" to the list of things you can do when using marijuana, can the government seriously continue to claim that it ruins lives and saps ambition?
For what it's worth, I wish Phelps had handled it differently once it was exposed. Here's what he said:
"I'm 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public -- it will not happen again."
And here's what he should have said:
"Yep, I smoke weed. It's a great way to relax, without all those dangerous side effects like alcohol and tobacco have. I don't care who knows it, because it's really not that big of a deal. I'm smoke weed, I've won 14 Olympic gold-medals, and I hold seven world records in swimming. I'm kind of a big deal and I think it's high-time (no pun intended) that we revisit the sanity of our "war on drugs".
But, he's only 23. Maybe in a few years, he'll wise up. Anyway, here's some more quick facts about marijuana prohibition.
Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers an estimated $10 billion annually and results in the arrest of more than 872,000 individuals per year -- far more than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent, 738,915 Americans were charged with possession only. The remaining 90,710 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. In past years, roughly 30 percent of those arrested were age 19 or younger.