Pubdate: Fri, 27 Sep 2013
Source: Charleston Gazette (WV)
Contact:  2013 Charleston Gazette


Once again, legislators are pondering whether to legalize medicinal 
marijuana to relieve pain, nausea and other miseries of sick West 
Virginians. We hope this humane effort finally passes, simply because 
it's merciful. Further, it could provide additional state revenue.

Gradually, Americans are becoming tolerant of pot, which is no more 
harmful than beer or whisky, which are legal -- and is much less 
harmful than tobacco, also legal.

Back in 1969, a whopping 84 percent of Americans opposed legalization 
of pot. But this year, a Pew survey found that 52 percent now want 
marijuana to be legal. The same poll found that three-fourths think 
police efforts to exterminate pot cost more than they're worth.

Last fall, voters in Colorado and Washington state chose to legalize 
pot for recreational use. Twenty states and the District of Columbia 
have approved medical use of the pain-soothing substance -- and New 
Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, just signed a law 
approving edible pot to treat sick children. The U.S. Justice 
Department says it won't interfere with those state laws.

At a Phoenix town hall assembly, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was asked 
about drugs, and he replied: "Maybe we should legalize. We're 
certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I support 
the will of the people."

Clearly, the U.S. cultural tide is flowing toward acceptance of a 
factual reality of modern life. The federal drug czar's website says: 
"Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United 
States, with nearly 17 million Americans age 12 and older reporting 
past-month use."

The "war on drugs" has been largely a failure -- just as Prohibition 
of alcohol was in the 1920s. The chief result has been cramming U.S. 
prisons with harmless offenders, disproportionately black.

District of Columbia councilman David Grosso is introducing a bill to 
legalize recreational pot in the nation's capital, and to license its 
sale and collect taxes on it. "If we're going to have alcohol legal 
in this country, I don't see any reason why we couldn't have 
marijuana legal," he said. Most D.C. council members are expected to 
support his plan.

The American Civil Liberties Union says blacks are nearly four times 
more likely to be charged with pot possession, compared to whites 
with the same level of usage. Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project says:

"By arresting people for something that is safer than alcohol, you 
are slapping them with a criminal record ... which is related to 
cycles of poverty."

Each summer, West Virginia troopers in helicopters destroy multitudes 
of mountaintop pot patches. If those fields were legalized, they 
might become the Mountain State's most valuable agricultural crop and 
produce welcome new tax revenue.

America's morals evolve, year after year, decade after decade. 
Snowballing acceptance of gays is a clear phenomenon. So is rising 
tolerance for premarital sex, birth control, cohabitation, alcohol, 
gambling, racial intermarriage, Sunday work and a slew of other 
former no-nos. So is public tolerance for marijuana.

As the culture changes, it's time for politicians to catch up.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom