Lapse of Judgement

February 1, 2009

In one of the funnier, yet strangely serious news stories to break this year, Michael Phelps was caught at a party taking hits off a bong, a glass pipe most commonly used to smoke marijunana. The major problem with this is that Olympic athletes under the World Anti-Doping Agency can face a 2-year ban for first-time drug offenses, and up to a 4-year ban for major infractions. Now, the photo isn’t enough proof to charge Michael with anything, but pot can be detectable in the body for up to a month after using, so if he were tested in the next few weeks, he could wind up with some serious consequences. Yes, that’s right, taking a few hits off a bong could cost the best swimmer in history another few gold medals at the next Olympics in 2012.  This proves one thing–our friends at the WADA are, in fact, the dopes.

Is this really something to demonize Michael Phelps for?

Is this really something to demonize Michael Phelps for?

According to an article on ESPN, “The party occurred nearly three months after the Olympics, while Phelps was taking a long break from training, and apparently would have no impact on the eight golds he won at Beijing. He has never tested positive for banned substances and even agreed to extra testing before the games.” Yet, Michael felt that he had to come out and apologize for “poor judgement” and “regrettable” behavior. What exactly was his poor judgement? Celebrating his time out of the pool, and his accomplishments, while at a college party surrounded by people his own age? No, the real problem here is society’s long-misunderstood mindset about marijuana and its’ users, something that might cost America one of her brightest stars.

Four years off for smoking pot? Has anybody in that organization ever tried smoking any sort of marijuana? This is not exactly a performaning-enhancing drug we are talking about. If Mr. Phelps were to smoke pot and then jump in the pool, it is much more likely that he would wind up floating on his back, staring dreamily up at the ceiling and wondering just why his body feels so wet. This is the same infraction as if Michael were to take steroids, or HGH, or some substance that would actually give him an unfair ADVANTAGE over his opponents. What is even more shocking is that this seems to affect Michael’s public persona more than four years ago when he was caught drunk driving at the age of 19. That, my friends, is stupidity–driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous to ones’ self and others, and I do not condone that behavior (or driving under the influence of any substance).

Ladies and Gentlemen, my fine readers, I am happy to say that I have smoked marijuana quite a few times, and will continue to do so in the future. I do it in safe enviornments, with my peer group, and have no qualms about my behavior. I have been around both drunk people and high people, and I will say that I have never seen a person who is high do anything dumber than eat too much food, while I have seen drunk people start fights, get arrested for disorderly conduct, urinate in public, vomit, pass out, and even die from alcohol intoxication. Do you know how many people die each year from alcohol-related incidents? The number has been estimated anywhere from 100,000 to over 2 million–people dead from alcohol-induced homicides, car crashes, overdoses, and liver diseases. Do you know what that same number is from people on marijuana? Zero. The only way to overdose on marijuana is to smoke one’s own body weight in one hour, a feat that is literally impossible. In this country we have no laws banning cigarettes, which are filled with carcinogens and nicotine used to addict their users, nor do we have laws against alcohol (other than the 21-year-old age limit, which is very easy to get around), both substances responsible for millions of deaths in America. Yet we have laws against pot with very sketchy government statistics to back them up. In fact, if one looks at the government’s reasons for outlawing pot, they use such excuses as “Mentions of marijuana use in emergency room visits have
risen 176 percent since 1994, surpassing those of heroin.” Yes, the government knows that more people MENTION marijuana, as in: “What drugs have you taken lately?” Note that what it does NOT say is relation of marijuana to those emergency room visits, only frequency of use. I would be willing to bet that alcohol would be even higher up on that list on emergency room visits, yet alcohol is still legal. If someone feels that they have a great reason why marijuana should be illegal while alcohol and tobacco stay legal, go ahead and comment. I’d be willing to bet that it can not be done.

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