HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html The Top Ten Reasons Marijuana Should Be Legal
Pubdate: Sat, 01 Sep 2007
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Media Institute
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Prohibition has failed to control the use and domestic production of 
marijuana -- it's time everyone faced this and the rest of the 
compelling arguments for legalizing it.

Editor's note: There are millions of regular pot smokers in America 
and millions more infrequent smokers.

Smoking pot clearly has far fewer dangerous and hazardous effects on 
society than legal drugs such as alcohol. Here is High Times's top 10 
reasons to marijuana should be legal, part of its 420 Campaign 
legalization strategy.

10. Prohibition has failed to control the use and domestic production 
of marijuana. The government has tried to use criminal penalties to 
prevent marijuana use for over 75 years and yet: marijuana is now 
used by over 25 million people annually, cannabis is currently the 
largest cash crop in the United States, and marijuana is grown all 
over the planet.

Claims that marijuana prohibition is a successful policy are 
ludicrous and unsupported by the facts, and the idea that marijuana 
will soon be eliminated from America and the rest of the world is a 
ridiculous fantasy.

9. Arrests for marijuana possession disproportionately affect blacks 
and Hispanics and reinforce the perception that law enforcement is 
biased and prejudiced against minorities. African-Americans account 
for approximately 13% of the population of the United States and 
about 13.5% of annual marijuana users, however, blacks also account 
for 26% of all marijuana arrests. Recent studies have demonstrated 
that blacks and Hispanics account for the majority of marijuana 
possession arrests in New York City, primarily for smoking marijuana 
in public view. Law enforcement has failed to demonstrate that 
marijuana laws can be enforced fairly without regard to race; far too 
often minorities are arrested for marijuana use while 
white/non-Hispanic Americans face a much lower risk of arrest.

8. A regulated, legal market in marijuana would reduce marijuana 
sales and use among teenagers, as well as reduce their exposure to 
other drugs in the illegal market.

The illegality of marijuana makes it more valuable than if it were 
legal, providing opportunities for teenagers to make easy money 
selling it to their friends.

If the excessive profits for marijuana sales were ended through 
legalization there would be less incentive for teens to sell it to one another.

Teenage use of alcohol and tobacco remain serious public health 
problems even though those drugs are legal for adults, however, the 
availability of alcohol and tobacco is not made even more widespread 
by providing kids with economic incentives to sell either one to 
their friends and peers.

7. Legalized marijuana would reduce the flow of money from the 
American economy to international criminal gangs.

Marijuana's illegality makes foreign cultivation and smuggling to the 
United States extremely profitable, sending billions of dollars 
overseas in an underground economy while diverting funds from 
productive economic development.

6. Marijuana's legalization would simplify the development of hemp as 
a valuable and diverse agricultural crop in the United States, 
including its development as a new bio-fuel to reduce carbon emissions.

Canada and European countries have managed to support legal hemp 
cultivation without legalizing marijuana, but in the United States 
opposition to legal marijuana remains the biggest obstacle to 
development of industrial hemp as a valuable agricultural commodity.

As US energy policy continues to embrace and promote the development 
of bio-fuels as an alternative to oil dependency and a way to reduce 
carbon emissions, it is all the more important to develop industrial 
hemp as a bio-fuel source - especially since use of hemp stalks as a 
fuel source will not increase demand and prices for food, such as 
corn. Legalization of marijuana will greatly simplify the regulatory 
burden on prospective hemp cultivation in the United States.

5. Prohibition is based on lies and disinformation. Justification of 
marijuana's illegality increasingly requires distortions and 
selective uses of the scientific record, causing harm to the 
credibility of teachers, law enforcement officials, and scientists 
throughout the country.

The dangers of marijuana use have been exaggerated for almost a 
century and the modern scientific record does not support the reefer 
madness predictions of the past and present.

Many claims of marijuana's danger are based on old 20th century 
prejudices that originated in a time when science was uncertain how 
marijuana produced its characteristic effects.

Since the cannabinoid receptor system was discovered in the late 
1980s these hysterical concerns about marijuana's dangerousness have 
not been confirmed with modern research. Everyone agrees that 
marijuana, or any other drug use such as alcohol or tobacco use, is 
not for children.

Nonetheless, adults have demonstrated over the last several decades 
that marijuana can be used moderately without harmful impacts to the 
individual or society.

4. Marijuana is not a lethal drug and is safer than alcohol.

It is established scientific fact that marijuana is not toxic to 
humans; marijuana overdoses are nearly impossible, and marijuana is 
not nearly as addictive as alcohol or tobacco.

It is unfair and unjust to treat marijuana users more harshly under 
the law than the users of alcohol or tobacco.

3. Marijuana is too expensive for our justice system and should 
instead be taxed to support beneficial government programs.

Law enforcement has more important responsibilities than arresting 
750,000 individuals a year for marijuana possession, especially given 
the additional justice costs of disposing of each of these cases.

Marijuana arrests make justice more expensive and less efficient in 
the United States, wasting jail space, clogging up court systems, and 
diverting time of police, attorneys, judges, and corrections 
officials away from violent crime, the sexual abuse of children, and terrorism.

Furthermore, taxation of marijuana can provide needed and generous 
funding of many important criminal justice and social programs.

2. Marijuana use has positive attributes, such as its medical value 
and use as a recreational drug with relatively mild side effects.

Many people use marijuana because they have made an informed decision 
that it is good for them, especially Americans suffering from a 
variety of serious ailments. Marijuana provides relief from pain, 
nausea, spasticity, and other symptoms for many individuals who have 
not been treated successfully with conventional medications. Many 
American adults prefer marijuana to the use of alcohol as a mild and 
moderate way to relax.

Americans use marijuana because they choose to, and one of the 
reasons for that choice is their personal observation that the drug 
has a relatively low dependence liability and easy-to-manage side effects.

Most marijuana users develop tolerance to many of marijuana's side 
effects, and those who do not, choose to stop using the drug. 
Marijuana use is the result of informed consent in which individuals 
have decided that the benefits of use outweigh the risks, especially 
since, for most Americans, the greatest risk of using marijuana is 
the relatively low risk of arrest.

1. Marijuana users are determined to stand up to the injustice of 
marijuana probation and accomplish legalization, no matter how long 
or what it takes to succeed.

Despite the threat of arrests and a variety of other punishments and 
sanctions marijuana users have persisted in their support for 
legalization for over a generation. They refuse to give up their long 
quest for justice because they believe in the fundamental values of 
American society. Prohibition has failed to silence marijuana users 
despite its best attempts over the last generation. The issue of 
marijuana's legalization is a persistent issue that, like marijuana, 
will simply not go away. Marijuana will be legalized because 
marijuana users will continue to fight for it until they succeed.

Learn more about High Times's 420 Campaign marijuana legalization 
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