US News & World Report: “Should Marijuana Use Be Legalized?”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 30, 2012

    Next Tuesday, three voters in three states — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — will be deciding on statewide ballot measures to legalize the adult possession, use, and distribution of cannabis. Today, US News & World Report ‘Debate Club’ asks its readers: “Should marijuana use be legalized?”

    I, along with Alison Holcolm (New Approach Washington), provide commentaries in favor of ending cannabis prohibition. [Update: MPP’s Morgan Fox also now has a commentary here.]

    An excerpt from my op/ed appears below:

    Marijuana Regulation Works and Prohibition Fails
    via US News & World Report

    Come November 7, voters in one, if not two, U.S. states will have decided in favor of legally regulating cannabis. Why? The answer is clear: regulation works; prohibition fails.

    Since 1965, the FBI reports that U.S. law enforcement have made over 22 million arrests for marijuana violations. Yet cannabis consumption and the public’s access to pot remain undeterred. Cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes upon legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.

    It’s time to stop stigmatizing and criminalizing tens of millions of Americans for choosing to consume a substance that is safer than either tobacco or alcohol.

    … [A] pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for limited, licensed production and sale of cannabis to adults—but restricts use among young people—would best reduce risks associated with its use or abuse.

    … In short, it’s legalization, regulation and public education—coupled with the enforcement of age restrictions—that most effectively keeps mind-altering substances out of the hands of children.

    You can read the full text of my commentary here.

    You can read Alison Holcolm’s contribution, “Marijuana Use Should Not Be a Crime,” here.

    Predictably, longtime cannabis prohibitionists Kevin Sabet, a former assistant to the Drug Czar, and David Evans, an adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation, provide the ‘con’ perspective. You can read their contributions (largely for entertainment purposes only) here and here.

    As in past editions of US News’ ‘Debate Club’, editors are asking visitors to vote ‘up’ the commentaries they like and to vote ‘down’ the arguments they oppose. Make your opinion heard. Please vote and share.

    24 responses to “US News & World Report: “Should Marijuana Use Be Legalized?””

    1. Mark says:

      What I find encouraging is that the pro-legalization votes are over 10-20 times the pro-hibition votes.

      Actually, the comments following the prohibitionists articles are far more entertaining than the drivel in their articles.

    2. shawn says:

      One point I wish that the pro-regulation camp would emphasize is that prohibition hurts youth far more than cannabis does. Depending on age, a marijuana arrest means unnecessarily introducing youth to the criminal justice system which may affect their ability to obtain employment, further their education and a conviction may affect access to federal financial aid. The consequences of marijuana use are severe, but only due to the consequences which are created by prohibition. Simply said, prohibition harms youth in measurable and absolute ways while responsible marijuana use has little lifetime impact.

    3. Fes says:

      Hahahaha I laughed so hard at the “largely for entertainment purposes” great article!

    4. Colin says:

      If any off these states Legalize/ Decriminalize do you think other states would follow such as Wisconsin? If so how long do you think it will be?

    5. Anonymous says:

      Small grammatical/logical error at the beginning. “Three voters in three states..” haha I surely hope more than three people are voting on this!

    6. Donny says:

      Small grammatical/logical error at the beginning. “Three voters in three states..” haha I surely hope more than three people are voting on this!

    7. phrtao says:

      All very encouraging stuff but I would just like to take issue with the fact that the prohibitionist argument is entertaining. It is now time that we not only refute their arguments be we also show contempt for the hatred and lies they are peddling – it is not funny !

      Prohibition has blighted the lives of millions of people, it has cost untold billions of tax dollars and brought unnecessary suffering to sick people for three quarters of a century. Anyone who advocates more of that is contemptuous to the point of criminality. In the civil rights movement of the sixties no one thought the racists were funny for their hatred and discrimination so why should we feel that way about the prohibitionists.

      I think people involved with marijuana have been oppressed for so long and so thoroughly that they have not yet woken up to their human rights and gained the dignity they deserve. There is a lot of healing to be done after 75 years of hatred.

    8. Andy says:

      I agree phrtao the prohibitionist position started off as entertaining and now it’s just outright lies and twisted facts.

      Prohibitionists say it causes psychosis. Where are the millions of users getting their treatments at, I mean this should be an epidemic with all the cannabis users out there.

      My favorite is ” People entering drug treatment centers and classes are at an all time high ”

      Really? After getting arrested for possession you can go to jail or you can take a drug class as a diversion. I wonder how many people elect jail time.

      Yes it is time to get upset and expose prohibitionist on their lies.

      Marijuana opens the mind and makes many neural connections in the brain normally not made. Are we just more enlightened and see through this BS or are people so uneducated, ignorant, or passive they just believe the lies? I often wonder.

    9. Miles says:

      It is indeed laughable that the prohibitionists Kevin Sabet, a former assistant to the Drug Czar, and David Evans, an adviser to the Drug Free America Foundation really got their debate points shot down in flames! It is getting ever more clear that We the People do not agree with these small-minded people who want to continue this totally failed prohibition.

    10. I agree with Andy and Phrtao. It’s time to show our teeth instead of appease those who would perpetuate this crazy war on our own. Legalization is a good thing. I have an intense disagreement with how its being proposed, but if I lived in any of those three states, I’d line up to vote for it. My issue with the current trend of legalization is that we’re giving the “dangerous” angle far too much play. Cannabis is an herb that’s been around for 60 million years. We’ve been using it since our ancestors climbed out of the ocean. It’s one of the most healthful, nontoxic plants on the earth, so why are we condoning this level of control? From my perspective, this just feeds the misconceptions and lies.