Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML):
Regardless of one’s view of marijuana use as normal or immoral, healthy or unhealthy, the fact is that over 70 years of government prohibition has done little to nothing to achieve the long-stated public goals of increasing youth perception of harm from marijuana use, reducing youth access to untaxed and unregulated marijuana, increasing treatment for marijuana abuse and marijuana-related emergency room visits, and incarcerating users and dealers. In 2003, the Office of Management and Budget presented the Drug Enforcement Administration with a zero rating on a hundred-point scale for achievement of the bureau’s stated goals — an utterly failing grade.
Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent by the government since 1937 to both enforce and prolong marijuana prohibition. Meanwhile, over 19 million people have been arrested since 1965 (830,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2006 with 89 percent on possession-only charges), and an estimated 45,000 to 65,000 marijuana-only prisoners are currently incarcerated. There are more marijuana arrests annually than arrests for all violent crimes combined. As such, the moral and economic imperatives are clear in seeking logical and pragmatic alternatives to prohibition.
If prohibition is such a desirable policy, why is marijuana America’s number one cash crop? Prohibition is an abdication of policy making, leaving an otherwise popular commodity to the problems and vagaries of contraband markets. In a country where alcohol and tobacco products are legal and taxed by all levels of government, what are the common sense, social, economic, public health, and safety reasons not to legally control marijuana in the same manner as other so-called “vice” products for responsible adults?
The fact is that our government can’t muster better than an “F” in its marijuana control efforts even after employing mandatory minimum sentences, civil forfeiture, ineffective school campaigns such as DARE, high-tech interdiction methods, and controls on the borders and ports, while at the same time overtly discriminating against patients who possess a physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana and American farmers who, absent prohibition, would cultivate and prosper from industrial hemp (i.e., non-psychoactive marijuana, which is lawfully grown in most of the world including Europe and Canada). As such, it’s worth it to ask: why not adopt low-tech but otherwise effective control mechanisms such as tax stamps and other government controls, similar to how we currently control alcohol and tobacco products?
There is nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults — reformers and prohibitionists alike concur that marijuana is not for children, and that logical and reasonable civil and criminal sanctions are necessary for non-compliant sellers and abusers. However, the continued arrests and legal harassment of adults who responsibly use marijuana punishes behavior where there is no discernible victim, and therefore should be of no public concern or cost to the taxpayer.
The Dare program is not a failed program,It is one of the best in the country.
The kids have enough to deal with without leagalizing drugs.
THE “HTC” IN MARIJAUNA IS AN HALLUCINOGENIC.
I HAVE WORKED WITH KIDS FOR 30YRS IN LAWENFORCEMENT AND LEGALIZING MARIJUANA IS NOT GOING TO HELP ANYONE. MOST OF THE USERS ARE DROPOUTS.