The counterproductive war on grass
November 13, 2009
Regarding Roger Marolt’s Nov. 6 column: In 2008, there were 847,863 marijuana arrests in the U.S., almost 90 percent for simple possession. At a time when state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers, this country continues to spend scarce public resources criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis. The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower rates of use.
The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. An admitted former pot smoker, President Obama has thus far maintained the prohibition status quo rather than pursue real change. Would Barack Obama be in the White House right now if he had been convicted of a marijuana offense in his youth?
Decriminalization is a step in the right direction. Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the $50 billion drug war obsolete. As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This “gateway” is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.
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