Hey guys, I really don't feel like arguing this to death using snide comments, so I'll attack it another way. YES, marijuana does have some negative health effects such as small memory loss. However, I do believe that prohibiting is not fair to responsible people, not those stereotypical Cheech and Chong stoners that gave common marijuana smokers a bad name. I just want people to take a common sense approach towards this issue instead of dismissing it outright. I also think people are generally beginning to accept it as a part of society, much like alcohol is today. Read this fact-filled article, and decide for yourself.
War on Drugs: Your tax dollars at waste
By Bruce Mirken
Publication date: 04/08/2002
Special To The Examiner
NO ONE looks forward to April 15, but most of us pay our taxes willingly. After all, our dollars buy important things, from highways to missiles.
But what if for decades we spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a program without bothering to find out if it actually worked?
Or worse, what if we kept pouring money into a proven failure?
We are doing precisely that with the War on Drugs.
That is the inevitable conclusion of a devastating National Research Council report commissioned by the White House drug czar's office and released one year ago -- and ignored by the press and policymakers.
Titled "Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us" (available online at www.nap.edu/catalog/10021.html), the NRC's analysis concludes that we are not even collecting the data that would tell us whether present anti-drug strategies are working.
More startling, the data we do have doesn't support the central pillar of U.S. drug policy: Arresting and jailing drug users.
"Existing research," the NRC writes, "seems to indicate that there is little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions prescribed for drug use and prevalence or frequency of use."
The researchers particularly noted that the 11 states that have greatly reduced penalties for marijuana possession have not seen increased use.
Bush administration budget chief Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., explained to the Washington Post in January that the administration would rate federal programs as "effective, ineffective and in-between," steering more money to programs that work and less to those that don't. Logically, this should lead to a major rethinking of anti-drug efforts.
It hasn't. Bush's budget tinkers a bit, but still allocates two-thirds of anti-drug funds to the same old failed law-enforcement efforts.
MARIJUANA -- legal under federal law until 1937 -- provides a telling example: According to government figures, only about 2 percent of Americans born before the ban took effect had used marijuana by the time they turned 21. But of those born 20 years later, from 1956 to 1960, more than 50 percent tried marijuana by age 21.
Since then, the percentage has consistently remained at least 2000 percent above pre-ban levels.
Federal anti-drug expenditures rose from $11.5 billion in 1992 to nearly $19 billion in 2002. The result? According to government surveys, in 1992, 33.3 percent of Americans had used at least one illicit drug. By 2000 that figure had risen to 38.9 percent. That year, the United States arrested 646,000 people for simple possession of marijuana, an all-time record.
But is marijuana really so dangerous that this draconian approach is needed? In March 1972, a national commission appointed by President Nixon declared, "The Commission is of the unanimous opinion that marijuana use is not such a grave problem that individuals who smoke marijuana, and possess it for that purpose, should be subject to criminal procedures."
This conservative group found that criminal prohibition actually undercuts efforts to discourage use and to curb misuse of marijuana.
In 1995, The Lancet, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, stated flatly, "The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health," and called for decriminalization. This March, the Canadian Medical Association did the same. Almost simultaneously, the British government's scientific advisory panel on illegal drugs reported, "The high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems for the individual or society" and recommended ending arrests for marijuana possession.