September 29, 2014 – Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, wasteful, and counterproductive as alcohol prohibition. It is the epitome of a failed government policy, and like most failed government policies, there are a variety of reasons why it should be repealed. In the interest of saving time and space, here are the top five reasons why the U.S. should end marijuana prohibition.
1. Adults should not be punished for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society.
Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is far less toxic than alcohol, less damaging to the body, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violent or reckless behavior. We can all agree that adults should have the right to consume alcohol responsibly; there’s no logical reason why they should be prohibited from consuming marijuana responsibly. If someone is old enough to walk into a store and buy a case of beer or a bottle of liquor, he or she should not be treated like a criminal simply for possessing a less harmful substance.
2. Law enforcement officials’ time should be spent addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting countless adults for using marijuana.
Approximately 750,000 people in the U.S. were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2012, of which more than 87 percent were for simple possession. That’s 750,000 times that a police officer spent part of his or her shift arresting someone and filling out paperwork, and potentially appearing in court, and it’s 750,000 times that a prosecutor spent part of his or her day filing charges, meeting with defendants, and potentially arguing the case in court. Meanwhile, countless violent crimes and property crimes go unsolved, and courts are faced with backlogs of more important cases.
3. Our current prohibition policies are forcing marijuana sales into an underground market where it creates revenue and jobs for cartels and criminals.
Regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol would put sales in the hands of legitimate businesses that package and label products, collect sales taxes, and ask customers for proof of age. Because adults will no longer need to seek marijuana in the underground market, it’s less likely they will be exposed to other more harmful drugs. Along with generating tax revenue, these establishments will create good jobs and provide business for other industries. For example, they will need contractors, electricians, accounting services, and industrial and retail real estate.
4. There is a mountain of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of marijuana in the treatment of a variety of debilitating medical conditions.
Medical marijuana is less harmful and poses fewer negative side effects than most prescription drugs – especially painkillers – and some patients find it is the most effective treatment. If marijuana can provide relief from conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or chronic and debilitating pain, it is unconscionable to criminalize patients for using it. Along with removing the threat of arrest for patients, ending prohibition would remove obstructions to research on marijuana’s medical benefits.
5. It’s what the people want.
Americans think it should be legal for medical purposes. Twenty-three states have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws that protect qualified patients from arrest and provide them with a means of obtaining it. Two states have legalized marijuana and are now regulating it like alcohol. And up to a dozen more could adopt similar laws within the next few years. It’s time for our marijuana laws to catch up with public opinion, and that entails ending prohibition once and for all.