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Why not legalize marijuana?

May 25, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
I think it's time to legalize marijuana.

Before I get into this further, I'll say just for the record that I have never in my life smoked pot or sampled any other illegal drug. I don't drink alcohol either and have sampled at most half of a margarita, after I turned 21. I have no personal stake in the argument.

I did see a documentary on PBS about marijuana growers a few months ago, including mention of medical marijuana businesses in California. I remembered the documentary when I saw that voters in North Dakota may get a chance to vote on a ballot measure to make medical marijuana legal, as has been done in other states.

The main argument against legalizing marijuana is that it is a "gateway" drug that can lead people to even more dangerous drugs and other illegal activity. That's a valid concern, but the illegal drug trade seems to be causing a lot of heartache as well as tremendous violence in Mexico and along the Mexican border. Just from reading the local police blotter and stories on the AP wire, I've noted that cops and judges seem to spend an inordinate amount time going after pot smokers and small time marijuana dealers. Courts all over the nation are clogged with these people. The time and money (not to mention jail space) might be put to better use. Apparently some cops and judges feel the same way. I just received an e-mail from Tom Angell telling me about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others from around the world who are working to legalize and regulate marijuana and other drugs because of what they saw fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs."

If marijuana did happen to be legalized, I think the federal government ought to regulate the heck out of it and use the tax proceeds to pay for drug treatment programs and health insurance for the uninsured, much as it does with tobacco. The country would be better served by more focus on treatment for non-violent drug addicts instead of prison, anyway.

What do you think?


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