Pubdate: Sun, 22 May 2016
Source: Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
Copyright: 2016 The Plain Dealer
Note: priority given to local letter writers
Author: Efrain Camargo
Note: Efrain Camargo is a senior at Saint Martin de Porres High 
School in Cleveland. He enjoys making music and will be a freshman at 
Cleveland State University in the fall. This essay was written as his 
senior Capstone project.


Over the years, people have been taught that marijuana was an evil 
drug. This drug is so evil that approximately 750,000 people are 
arrested every year and some of them convicted and fined for its use 
in the United States. So evil that every 42 seconds someone gets 
arrested for it.

America is so convinced of marijuana's evils, that we are willing to 
root out this drug wherever it is used, bought, and sold, right?


in our nation's capital, before legalization, 91 percent of arrested 
marijuana dealers were African-American. What about the other 9 
percent? Well, before Washington voters legalized its use, only 4 
percent of Washington, D.C.'s arrested marijuana dealers were Caucasian.

Now what if I told you that 49.2 percent of the people who bought and 
used marijuana in Washington, D.C., were Caucasian and that 40.9 
percent were African-American? That's according to Amos Irwin, chief 
of staff at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, in a 2014 
Huffington Post article.

Well, if this is the case, why are African-Americans being 
incarcerated on a higher scale? Shouldn't there be about an even 
amount of arrests between the two groups of people?

Is marijuana really evil or are the policies that have been put into 
place the problem? America realizes that cannabis is not nearly the 
evil it is made out to be and should decriminalize its use.

Marijuana is known as a Schedule I controlled substance. Legally, 
this means that marijuana use is categorized with substances such as 
heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote.

How does Ohio's medical marijuana bill compare to Ohioans for Medical 
Marijuana's ballot initiative?

In 2014, heroin overdoses killed more than 10,000 people in the 
United States. Marijuana overdoses are virtually nonexistent but yet 
marijuana is ruled as the same thing in eyes of the law.

Is the American public really ready to believe that marijuana and 
heroin present the same dangers to individuals and the society at large?

Yes, marijuana has long been linked to addiction and abuse. This, 
admittedly, would be reason enough for our society not to consider 
legalizing it. However, some psychologists have changed their 
position on old perceptions and have said that marijuana is not a gateway drug.

What has been taught for generations is that people who try marijuana 
may eventually try harder drugs in search of a stronger high, and 
that overall experimentation with marijuana will lead users down a 
dangerous path of addiction. But current research simply does not 
back up these claims.

On the contrary, alcohol and nicotine are more likely to cause 
addiction and drug dependency. These lower-schedule substances have 
also been known to kill people, but in the eyes of the law, they are 
better because they are legal.

People may argue that marijuana use causes violence. Well, government 
data have proven this idea to be false. In Denver, Colorado, both 
violent and petty crime decreased after the legalization of 
marijuana. The countywide murder rate dropped 52.9 percent after the 
legalization of recreational use.

What people don't understand is that there is a black market for 
marijuana similar to the one that we have experienced before with the 
prohibition of alcohol and that caused the Mafia and other criminal 
syndicates to come into play, causing the crime rate to increase. 
Why? They were killing their competitors for territory to sell their alcohol.

Today, there is no difference; this is still going on, just with a 
different substance. But marijuana intoxication does not cause 
violence; the violence is caused by the illegal distribution of marijuana.

What job would the people who sell marijuana have if anybody can get 
it from the stores? Some will say -- but that means that they will 
just move on to selling harder drugs. Well, this may be the case, but 
imprisoning drug abusers does not solve the issue. We must rehabilitate them.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom