If you're pro-freedom, you should be in favor of legalizing marijuana

The fight to legalize marijuana is about jobs. It's about economics. It's about freedom

Published July 15, 2017 6:00PM (EDT)

Jesse Ventura   (Skyhorse Publishing/Getty/Salon)
Jesse Ventura (Skyhorse Publishing/Getty/Salon)

Excerpted with permission from "Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto" by Jesse Ventura with Jen Hobbs. Copyright 2016, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound.

“The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to its culture.”
—Thomas Jefferson, "Memorandum of Services to My Country"

I know what you’re thinking. Another liberal hippie calling for decriminalization and full legalization of marijuana because he’s breaking the law right now by smoking it. Well, think again.

The Beast Side

People probably think I’m a hippie because I like wearing tie-dyed shirts or because I grew up in the ’60s or because to this day one of my favorite bands is the Rolling Stones. When I was eighteen years old in 1969, I enlisted in the US Navy. I am a Vietnam veteran and hardly a hippie. I don’t drink alcohol and I’ve long since given up my vices of chewing tobacco and smoking cigars. I’m not an alcoholic, and I have nothing against drinkers, but it’s a personal preference of mine not to drink. I choose not to drink, not to use tobacco, and guess what. It happens to be healthier for you in the long run if you don’t do either of these activities. I also don’t drink coffee or caffeinated beverages. Again, personal preference. More on that later.

So have I rolled a joint and smoked it before? Yes. Absolutely. And I’ve always been up front about this.

I’ve smoked pot before—not while I was governor—but I have used it in the past in a recreational capacity. If I someday require it for medical reasons, I wouldn’t be opposed to using it. In fact, I would prefer to use it, especially if it keeps me from relying on prescription pills with all those awful side effects. My friend Tommy Chong says there shouldn’t be a distinction between medical and recreational marijuana because any way you look at it, it’s a medical plant. Instead of going to a doctor to get a prescription of Prozac or an antidepressant, those who are smoking it specifically for the euphoric feeling are doing it for mental health reasons.

I believe in marijuana’s medicinal uses because I’ve seen it significantly benefit people I know. A dear and very close member of my family, who has suffered from seizures, is now seizure-free due to medical marijuana. She takes a few drops of cannabis oil twice a day and now she’s seizure-free and off of all her medication. I’m so glad to see she’s off all those pills that had to be constantly adjusted, each with a long list of side effects that sometimes seemed like a worse trade-off from the seizures. She no longer has to take those pills because she now lives a normal life with taking just drops of cannabis oil per day. I am fully convinced of the medicinal benefits of marijuana because I’ve seen the positive effects it has had on her quality of life.

The fact is Big Pharma just can’t duplicate what this plant is capable of doing. And the fact that our government continues to deny sick people access to this plant is truly a crime against humanity. Who knows when you might need medical marijuana? How do you know what the future has in store for you? You don’t.

Every month and every year that goes by, we find out more positive things about marijuana. The list is getting longer and longer and longer to the point where I question why they kept all this information from us. Why was marijuana demonized all those years when obviously this plant has a great deal of positive attributes—not only medical. It’s also a renewable resource! That’s the part that troubles me the most.

How did we go down this road to ruin about marijuana? Well, marijuana is a cash crop, and that means it’s bad for the pharmaceutical industry. Marijuana is also competition for the energy people because it’s an alternative source of energy. And now there are studies proving it can help our veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. So when are we going to take the blinders off and do what’s right for humanity and legalize this stuff once and for all?

At this point, to get the DEA to declare the end of the war against marijuana means that they are going to decide to quit their jobs for the betterment of society. Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen. Marijuana will remain illegal because it creates more jobs and puts more and more people in prison (which in turn, creates more jobs). Our national anthem states American is “the land of the free,” yet we have more people locked up in prison than any other industrialized nation. So those who are benefiting off of the drug trade aren’t just drug lords—remember that. Our government won’t do the right thing and legalize marijuana unless we the people demand it because there are many people within our own government on the payroll all thanks to the War on Drugs.

Yes, my book calls for ending the War on Drugs. My book calls for ending the marijuana prohibition. I’m not an anarchist. I believe in laws and regulations, but I also believe in common sense, and the government hasn’t been doing a good job in that department when it comes to cannabis. Before she passed away, my mother often told me that the prohibition of alcohol is identical to the War on Drugs. And she should know because she lived through both. You can either read and study history or you’ll find you’re destined to repeat it. Alcohol prohibition is what started all the trouble in Mexico. Mexican border towns like Tijuana became cesspools of crime, corruption, prostitution, and drugs all because of the prohibition of alcohol. Americans would go across the border to drink in towns like Tijuana, and then once the ban on alcohol was lifted, the criminals just strengthened their stronghold on the supply of marijuana until it became a major industry.

I’ve said it a million times: just because something is illegal, that doesn’t mean it goes away, it just means criminals now run it. Take the Mexican drug cartels. They’re now more powerful than the government. Guns are illegal in Mexico, yet they have guns. They have the money and they have the power. It’s not rocket science. If we end the War on Drugs, then the cartels no longer have the power. It just takes politicians with the courage to do the right thing. Remember, as I said before, it’s not just the drug lords who are getting richer off of the War on Drugs. Our politicians in Washington are making big money by keeping drugs illegal. As Deep Throat in All the President’s Men said, “Follow the money. Always follow the money.” It will take you to the answer.

To all the parents out there who are worried about how marijuana legalization will impact their children, I say, parent. It’s as simple as that. I’ve been for the legalization of marijuana for years. Neither one of my adult children are drug addicts. It’s that simple.

Think about it this way: what does marijuana actually do to you? You can’t overdose on it. You might gain a couple of pounds, you know, from eating too much once the effects kick in and you get the munchies. You might have to work out a little bit harder the next day to compensate, but other than that, what’s the downside? Oh yeah, it makes you high and it makes you feel good. That’s a negative? Ha! Give a guy a joint, some Jimi Hendrix music, and a pizza, and that guy will be entertained for hours. Give the same guy alcohol and he might drink and drive or get violent and hurt someone.

I say legalize marijuana because we have a chance to leave this world a better place for our children. Marijuana legalization is job creation, tax dollars, something to rejuvenate our pathetic economy. This is a multibillion-dollar industry. This is about jobs; this is about economics; this is about freedom. This is about taking our country back. This is about getting out of these useless wars and getting back to what matters most to Americans: taking care of our own economy and our own citizens.

Cannabis is a plant that grows abundantly, that has been around long before laws existed, before our country even existed, and has a multitude of modern-day uses—aside from getting hippies high. If you read my book, you’ll find out that this plant can literally cure cancer. This plant can literally end our dependence on foreign oil and fracking. This plant can literally rebuild our economy—we can make everything from car parts to airplane parts to paper to clothing to nutritious meals cheaply from it, but only if the American people are smart enough to recognize the truth from the bullshit.

The truth is, none of those uses for cannabis that I just mentioned is new. They might seem groundbreaking, almost too good to be true, but there are other countries taking advantage of those uses right now, and the United States is falling behind again. We’ve known about these and many other unique benefits of cannabis for generations, yet we continue to dig a hole deeper and deeper into the sand and stick our heads in it. Why? All because of a ridiculous movie called "Reefer Madness?" All because the DARE program says marijuana is a “gateway drug?” All because our government doesn’t want us to believe there are more uses for this plant other than just hippies getting high?

The conspiracy against this plant is one that dates back hundreds of years. Our country was founded on this plant. I bet you didn’t know that. I bet you didn’t know that when the thirteen colonies paid their taxes to the British crown, the colonists had the option of paying for it in hemp because hemp was more valuable than money. Yet, our country has been successful in morphing a negative connotation of this plant for a select few people’s political gains and for a select few corporations’ profits. The select few in both cases just happen to be powerful enough to create a propaganda campaign that is still in existence today . . . primarily because those same forces from our history books have changed hands over the years, but they still carry the same agenda.

My book presents the facts and evidence from primary sources, such as scientific research documents and medical studies, to prove the greatest cover-up of all time: We’ve been at war with a plant for generations.

And for what purpose? You’ll soon find out.

My book will also show you the practical, everyday applications of this plant. From biodiesel fuel to cooking and baking recipes to nutrition facts, my book will show you what this plant can do to change your every day life for the better.

And for all those religious people reading my book, remember this: God supposedly created the earth and everything in it . . . including cannabis. So if God created everything on earth for us to use, how dare we try to eradicate a plant that He put here for countless uses? Think about it. It’s here for a reason. Let me prove to you how valuable that reason is.

When I was governor, I tried to legalize hemp. I would have done anything to do it, but the legislature wouldn’t even give the people of Minnesota the opportunity to vote on it. Well, I left office in 2003, and I find it ridiculous that today there is only limited medical marijuana legislation in my home state. Hemp makes the best biodiesel fuel on the planet. Medical marijuana helps people who are sick from chemotherapy eat. I challenge anyone in government: What right do you have to tell someone what they can or cannot use if they have cancer? Do you have a medical license? What right do you have to turn sick people into criminals so that they can eat?

There was a time when I was proud to be an American. There was a time when I looked at the United States and looked at the future of my country with hope. I don’t necessarily have that feeling today. Most days I don’t recognize my country or the American values that my parents fought so hard to uphold in World War II. I wrote a book with the hope that this might change in my lifetime. When it really comes down to it, you’re reading a book written by a veteran, a former mayor, a former governor, and a former Harvard (yes, the Ivy League university) professor. I am pro-freedom, I am pro-marijuana, and I’ve written this book to show you how we can take our country back.

By Jesse Ventura

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