Dr. David Murray, chief scientist of the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

Marijuana is legally a Schedule I Controlled Substance under a federal law that evaluates the balance of risks and benefits of drugs, with input from the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The reason for legal restrictions on controlled substances is to protect public health and public safety. Simply put, marijuana is a substance that intoxicates those who use it, injuring their health and the well-being of those around them.

Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people, who are not only being placed at increased risk for schizophrenia, depression, cognitive deficits and respiratory problems, but are also at significantly higher risk for developing dependency on other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

While marijuana is the most prevalent controlled substance, with an estimated 15 million users on a monthly basis, researchers agree that if legal disincentives were not in place, the number of users would soar, leading to far greater negative social impacts on everything from school performance to roadway and workplace accidents to the prevalence of serious mental illness and the rising numbers of emergency room visits.

Marijuana use is currently the leading cause of treatment need for those abusing or dependent on illegal drugs, is the second leading reason for drug-induced emergency room episodes, and has surpassed alcohol for young people in addictive risk and impact on dependency requiring treatment.

Some have argued that keeping marijuana illegal does damage, since people run the risk of arrest if they break the law. But this purported damage is much overstated. Though there are many arrests for marijuana use, increasingly the legal system is referring such arrestees to drug courts, where they received supervised drug treatment at the discretion of the court. A review of those actually convicted and sentenced for marijuana offenses shows that they are overwhelmingly drug traffickers or multiple, often violent, offenders, and not those arrested for simple possession or use.

The reason that marijuana is, and should remain, illegal is that the drug itself is harmful to the individual and to the community. This is the assessment of the medical and the law enforcement community. Increasingly, this is the assessment of young people as well, since marijuana use has plummeted by 25 percent over the past five years. Young people apparently agree with Australian researchers, who recently characterized marijuana, based on their comparative studies of youths who used versus those who did not, as “the drug for life’s losers.” Removing legal penalties would only make this drug more accessible, its use more prevalent, and its damage more widespread, and would swell the number of those at risk for becoming “life’s losers.”

marijuana is an “Hallucinogenic drug!!”

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