Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jan 2008
Source: Triangle, The (Drexel U, PA Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Triangle
Author: Abraham Brown
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


In the 21st century I find it difficult to grasp why we as Americans
have not learned from our mistakes and  become better. Decriminalizing
marijuana in  Pennsylvania and the entire nation subsequently could 
possibly alleviate some of the drug problems we face  here in
Philadelphia and the nation at large.

The 1920s national prohibition of alcohol, the "noble  experiment,"
was undertaken to reduce crime and  corruption, solve social problems,
reduce the tax  burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve 
health and hygiene in America. However, this did not  work and was a
wretched disappointment on all counts.

Mark Thornton in his work Economics of Prohibition has  shown that
although consumption of alcohol fell at the  beginning of Prohibition,
it subsequently increased. He  noted that alcohol became more
dangerous to consume; crime increased and became organized. I have
not seen  any measurable gains made in productivity or increased 
abstinence with the implementation of prohibition. It  is evident that
crime is at its all time high right  here in this "City of Brotherly
Love," even in our  midst on college campuses across

Sadly some crimes committed in this city can be linked  to marijuana,
but it's important to note that it is not  because of the mental
effects on the body but because  of the great value that the
government indirectly creates and places on marijuana. And by value I
mean,  the herb becomes a prized possession, as it is illegal  and
hence harder to get. People will kill just to get  marijuana. Are
people killing to get alcohol? No,  because it is a legal commodity,
and can be purchased  once of age. Why not do the same for marijuana?

The fact that marijuana is in the prohibition mode,  most, if not all
the wrong things that happened while  alcohol was banned will and is
creeping back up on us.  More and more crimes are now surrounded
around  marijuana and will escalate given the lack of will on  the
part of government to consider its legalization. To  be fair,
marijuana has been ascribed much injustice and  the American public
ought to hear something  refreshingly positive about it from our
public  officials and lawmakers.

The American public has yet to hear a balanced stance on the topic of
legalizing medicinal marijuana, let alone the decriminalization of
marijuana, and the overall failure of America's current War on Drugs.
Too long have we endured the injustice of imprisoning simple marijuana
smokers. It's time for a change.

Former President Jimmy Carter became synonymous with the
decriminalization of marijuana campaign; he understood that
decriminalizing marijuana would be a step forward in coping with
America's failing drug policies. However the "Just Say No" campaign,
spearheaded by President Ronald Regan, undermined Carter's efforts and
instead placed marijuana in the category of illicit drugs, making it
tier mates with the likes of cocaine and heroine. This had a
debilitating effect on the marijuana reform and thus new generations
of Americans were grown up to think that marijuana is one of the more
dangerous drugs.

Where as I do believe that our country does have serious drug
trafficking problems, there is a need for effective drug control.
First, we take baby steps in trying to get the conservatives who seem
to be the heavyweights on the legislation, to decriminalize marijuana
and then subsequently legalize it. Please note the difference between
legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana. By decriminalizing the
substance fines will be imposed instead of an arrest on the person who
breaches the amount allowed to be carried on oneself at any given
time, a path followed by Canada that will free up the court/penal
system and at the same time create much needed revenue. Secondly we
the people of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania should push for our
congressional representatives to implement the use of marijuana for
medicinal uses. There are 12 such states for which this is a reality:
Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New
Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washi! ngton.

If within the next year there is no break through in the legalization
campaign of marijuana, I fear we will continue to dwell in the
quagmire of double standards stemming from having the dangerous drug
alcohol legal and marijuana the natural herb illegal.

It is obvious that the legalization of marijuana will no doubt
continue to be a hot button issue for years to come. So let's get
mobilized and press for our congressional representatives to
decriminalize it, legalize it, regulate it and finally tax it!

Abraham Brown is a sophomore majoring in communications. He can be
reached at  ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin