Former Minnesota Governor and retired WWE wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura hasn't brawled in the ring for decades. But since leaving political office, he has taken up the fight for legalizing marijuana, without regulating it restrictively. To promote his upcoming book - Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto - the hard-hitting critic of marijuana prohibition recently wrote an editorial for CNBC that outlines why he's against regulating marijuana for medical or recreational use.
1. Either it's fully legal or not
To Ventura, a substance isn't legal if people have to worry about possessing too much of it.
"I'm a purist," he wrote. "If a substance is legal, it should be legal. Yes, let's tax it, let's make money off of it, but let's not regulate it to the point where people live in fear of having too much of this 'legal' substance on them at a given moment."
2. Deadlier substances aren't regulated
Ventura argues that it's absurd to regulate a relatively safe substance like cannabis while there are no possession limits on tobacco, even though it's proven to be a deadly substance with no medical value.
"When people buy cigarettes, they don't worry if they have too many packs in the trunk of their car, yet there is not one medical benefit of smoking cigarettes. It's common knowledge that cigarettes slowly kill you. So addictive substances that kill people: perfectly legal. A medical substance that has proven time and time again to have practically zero side effects and can actually help people: not fully legalized, and many Americans risk going to jail if they use it."
He also pointed to alcohol as another example.
"If you drink too much, it can cause liver damage, addiction, even death. According to the CDC, in 2014 alone, more Americans died from alcohol-induced causes (30,722) than from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647)....[Y]et I am not limited to the amount of alcohol I can purchase."
3. The marijuana double standard
Cannabis users are forced to put up with a legal double standard, according to Ventura, who says that Americans would never allow the government to impose limits on how much alcohol they can buy. So why should marijuana consumers put up with limits on cannabis?
"If [alcohol's] such a deadly substance, then shouldn't it be regulated more? Could you imagine if the government did such a thing? Let's limit the amount of beer to a six-pack per person per day and see how much rioting there'd be in the streets! Look, if a substance is legal to purchase, then I should be allowed to purchase as much of it as I so desire. To me, that's the definition of a legal substance."
4. Legalization and drug testing don't mix
To Ventura, you can't say something is legal if a person can lose their job for legally acquiring and using it. But that's the case in states like Ohio, where House Bill 523 legalized medical marijuana but upheld an employer's right to fire employees who test positive for cannabis use.
"Hypothetically, as an approved medical marijuana patient in Ohio, I can take a medication that can drastically help my condition and then lose my job, or I can go on suffering and keep my job and therefore be able to support my family. See how House Bill 523 doesn't actually legalize anything?"
5. Regulation could cost lives
Although medical marijuana has recently been legalized in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, it will take months or even years before lawmakers have figured out what rules and procedures they want to impose on the legal industry. Ventura argues that the time spent ironing out those regulations could cost lives due to accidental overdoses of prescription opioids.
"Lawmakers estimate it will take anywhere between two months and two years to set up and implement all the asinine rules associated with [Ohio's] bill....I'd like to know what lawmakers are so afraid of when it comes to actually legalizing marijuana....It helps people manage chronic pain without addiction or death. We just lost Prince, one of the greatest musical icons of my home state of Minnesota, due to prescription pill overdose. If his doctor prescribed him marijuana, I believe he would still be with us today."
Want to read more? Check out Ventura's full editorial.