Legalize It!

The US war on drugs places great emphasis on arresting people for smoking marijuana. Since 1990, nearly 5.9 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, a greater number than the entire populations of Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming combined. In 2000, state and local law enforcement arrested 734,498 people for marijuana violations. This is an increase of 800 percent since 1980. As has been the case throughout the 1990s, the overwhelming majority of those charged with marijuana violations in 2000-- 646,042 Americans (88 %) -- were for simple possession. The remaining 12% (88,456 Americans) were for "sale/manufacture", an FBI category which includes marijuana grown for personal use or purely medical purposes. These new FBI statistics indicate that one marijuana smoker is arrested every 45 seconds in America. Taken together, the total number of marijuana arrests for 2000 far exceeded the combined number of arrests for violent crimes, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Like most Americans, people who smoke marijuana also pay taxes, support their families, and work hard to make a better life for their children. Responsible marijuana smokers present no threat or danger to America or its children, and there is no reason to treat them as criminals. As a society we need to find ways to discourage personal conduct of all kinds that is abusive or harmful to others. Responsible marijuana smokers are not the problem and it is time to stop arresting them. Once all the facts are known, it becomes clear that America's marijuana laws need reform. This issue must be openly debated using only the facts. Groundless claims, meaningless statistics, and exaggerated scare stories that have been peddled by politicians and prohibitionists for the last 60 years must be rejected. The time for legalization and taxation is now!

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