Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fearless Campaign

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Fair Drug Policy

Every comprehensive, objective government commission that has studied the issue over the past four decades has recommended that adults should not be criminalized for using marijuana.

All drugs are potentially harmful; marijuana is no exception. But by any reasonable health standard, marijuana is comparable to alcohol: It’s less addictive, far less toxic, and unlike alcohol, marijuana does not make users aggressive and violent.

Marijuana prohibition has caused far more harm than marijuana use itself: draining precious criminal justice resources from our communities, making it difficult to keep marijuana from our children, and destroying the lives and families of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

We've been down the prohibition path with alcohol, and it failed miserably. Drinking declined a bit, but any benefits were swamped by a huge increase in crime and violence generated when prohibition handed the liquor market over to gangsters. Crime bosses got rich, the murder rate skyrocketed, the prisons filled and deaths from tainted booze soared (after all, you can't enforce purity standards on a banned product). We're seeing the same results from marijuana prohibition today.

Prohibition has never stopped people from using marijuana, which is the largest cash crop in the country and in many places is more widely available than alcohol. It just gives criminals and violent gangs an exclusive franchise on marijuana sales contributing to border violence, unsafe products, and exploitation of children.

Taxing and regulating marijuana would make our communities safer: Removing marijuana from the criminal market would free up police time so officers could focus on violent crimes, property crimes, and people who drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or any other substance. Tax dollars would be used to incarcerate real criminals who threaten public safety.

Taxing and regulating marijuana would save taxpayer dollars and generate revenue: Each year, the government spends $7-8 billion to arrest and lock up nonviolent marijuana users. Taxing marijuana would generate billions in government revenue instead of profits for drug dealers. Marijuana prohibition is even having a negative impact on our national parks and forests. We now have Mexican drug cartels growing millions of plants on federal land. This wouldn’t be happening if marijuana were sold in a legal, regulated market. A regulated system of producing marijuana would help American farmers rather than criminal cartels.

Each year, more arrests are made for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined. Marijuana arrests in the U.S. now average close to 850,000 a year – that's one arrest every 37 seconds. And 89% of these arrests are for possession, not sale or manufacture.

A recent Gallup poll showed 46% of Americans in favor of making marijuana legal for adults, an all-time record. Yet the support in Congress to end this failed policy is almost nil. As we see time and time again the public is ahead of the politicians in realizing that prohibition is a failed and harmful policy, but together we can change that.


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