North Dakotans will soon be voting on legalizing recreational marijuana, to which I say...

  • I'm high on the idea. It's about time. Thousands of North Dakotans smoke marijuana, even though it's illegal. The laws aren't stopping them. So, let's legalize it, regulate it, and tax it. It's the same lesson we learned when Prohibition was in place. People are always going to consume alcohol. The same holds true for marijuana.
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There's no way we can justify banning marijuana, while alcohol is legal. Alcohol is much more dangerous. Alcohol is more damaging to the brain, and can cause major diseases, such as cirrhosis of the liver. No one has ever fatally overdosed from using pot, but many people have died from binge drinking. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 88,000 alcohol-related deaths occur in the U.S. each year.

Also, while marijuana often makes people more relaxed, alcohol can make people more violent.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of all violent crimes. Someone should explain to me why drinking a few beers in your home is legal (which it should be), while smoking some pot at home is not.

Yes, there are several downsides to taking marijuana. However, one upside is that by making pot legal, fewer people will take opioids, which are more dangerous and addictive. Another upside is economic. Legalizing recreational marijuana will create dozens of jobs and bring in tens of millions of dollars a year to the state in tax revenue. In case you haven't noticed, the Legislature has slashed vital programs and raised our property taxes because of a lack of funds. North Dakota could certainly use the extra money.

Perhaps most importantly, the current laws are ruining people's lives. Many people are arrested, jailed and fined for simply possessing marijuana. Because of their criminal records, many employers won't hire them. Under this measure, a lot of those criminal records would rightfully be expunged. Law enforcement is wasting too much time going after marijuana users, when there are more important crimes to deal with.

Opponents to the measure claim that it would make it legal to drive while impaired, and that people could smoke marijuana in public places. Not true. Those are scare tactics. Don't fall for them.

I have never smoked marijuana, and I'm not encouraging anyone to use it. If the measure passes, employers could still drug test their workers and fire people for being impaired, which is fine with me. Still, legalized recreational marijuana has worked well in other states, and it will work well here.

  • From A stoner called the fire department and said, "Come quick my house is on fire!"

The firefighter asked, "How do we get there?"

The stoner said, "Duh, in a big red truck!"

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV new director. He can be heard Fridays, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., on WDAY AM radio. Email