Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jan 2012
Source: Observer, The (Notre Dame, IN, Edu)
Copyright: 2012 The Observer
Author: Matt DePaolo


A couple weeks ago, I was going through the exciting process of ND 
Roll Call when I noticed something a little different: a memo to all 
students reminding us of the University's notably stringent drug policy.

Of course, we all know the one recreational drug to which this policy 
most frequently applies: marijuana. Possession alone can cost you a 
year's suspension from the University. It got me thinking, what is it 
about marijuana that inspires such widespread fear and evokes extreme 
punishment directed toward non-violent offenders, not only at ND, but 
throughout the country?

Is it the adverse health effects? The shelves at your local 
supermarket are stocked with food and drink items that will kill you 
much quicker than weed ever will. In fact, there has never been a 
single documented death directly resulting from marijuana use. Is it 
the state of mind in which the drug puts you? Not unless rendering 
users happy and hungry creates a threat to the public good. Is it the 
old argument that smoking it causes a lack of motivation? This can be 
said for any recreational activity when one overdoes it, yet video 
games and TV remain legal.

A recent report estimates that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 
billion per year in government spending related to the enforcement of 
prohibition. Additionally, annual tax revenue from legalization could 
reach $6.4 billion if marijuana was taxed at comparable rates to 
tobacco and alcohol. This does not include the potential benefits of 
the reintroduction of a multi-billion dollar hemp industry to the 
U.S. economy. Given the economic state of the country, it is hard to 
find an easier way to increase revenue and cut expenses than the 
legalization, regulation and taxation of cannabis products.

I can hardly begin to cover the issues related to marijuana 
legalization in one Viewpoint article, but I urge anyone who reads 
this to take the time to do some of your own research. Question the 
entrenched misconceptions about marijuana, and if you come to the 
same conclusions I have, get involved and ask your administrators and 
politicians for more sensible drug policies.

Matt DePaolo senior off-campus
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