No American should be jailed for smoking marijuana

The so-called ‘war on drugs’ declared by President Richard Nixon has been an unmitigated failure that cost billions of taxpayer dollars and ruined millions of lives instead of addressing a public health issue in a sensible and intelligent way.

The ‘war on drugs’ is a war on people that has failed to solve America’s substance abuse problems. It is far past the time to try a different approach, such as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was recently signed into law by President Obama to help curtail the nation’s heroin and opioid drug epidemic with addiction treatment, overdose prevention and doing more to protect drug-dependent newborns.

Marijuana leaf on a white background

It is time to plot a new course. No American should be jailed for smoking marijuana. It is time to decriminalize marijuana so it may be regulated to protect children and prevent people from hurting anyone while under the influence.

Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans would only fine (no jail) recreational smokers and 58% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, according to a recent Gallup poll — which is the highest nationwide percentage ever reported. It is time to respect the freedom of adults to make their own choices in balance with everyone’s obligation to refrain from causing harm.

It is time to disarm organized crime and destroy the ability of terrorists to profit from illicit markets for products for which there is an apparent and unyielding demand.  It is time to end the exploitation of diverse cultures and mass incarceration of people who have done nothing to hurt anyone, with the possible exception of themselves.

It is time to end the hypocrisy that treats vodka and whiskey differently than marijuana, which is more benign, and stop the negligence of overlooking the crises that result from addition or driving while intoxicated. It is time to change policies that clearly do not work as they were intended and start looking for ways to invest wasted resources far more wisely.

Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been smoked by 25 million Americans in the past year, according to some government surveys. Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning and more than 400,000 annual deaths are attributed to tobacco smoking.

By comparison, marijuana cannot cause death by overdose because it is nontoxic.


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