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Why We Should Legalize Marijuana

The long-standing prohibition against recreational use of cannabis in the United States should be repealed. In addition, the penalties for possession and trafficking of cannabis should be abolished, and cannabis should be taxed and regulated by the federal agency that controls the other recreational, legal, yet addictive and potentially injurious substances tobacco and alcohol (the ATF).

Cannabis has been illegal since the Marijuana Tax act of 1934. Yet of a population of 284 million (2000 U.S. Census), 70 million Americans claim to have smoked cannabis at some point in their lives [NORML]. Prohibition of cannabis is therefore apparently ineffective at changing the habits of a population, just as prohibition of alcohol was ineffective in 1919-1933. Making otherwise law-abiding citizens fugitives does nothing more than fill the prisons and alienate the populace from their government. In fact the total cost to taxpayers of solely marijuana-related incarceration (in local, state, and federal prisons and jails) of 15,400 people exceeds $1.2 billion per year. That one billion does not include what it costs to investigate, arrest, and prosecute the “hundreds of thousands of marijuana users arrested every year” [Hall]. Three and a half million people were arrested for marijuana offenses during the 8 years under President Clinton! [NORML] More than double the same period before his presidency. Hall goes on to quote a report by the National Academy of Sciences: “there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use.”

So while it is argued that the corruption, guerrilla violence, and terrorism carried out by the black market drug traders would infiltrate ma…

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…ause compared to alcohol and cigarettes, there really isn’t any reason for it not to be.


1. Illegal Drugs and Alcohol-America’s Anguish. 1997. Information Plus, Wylie, TX.


The State Of The Art In Horticulture. A Crime Punishable By Life Behind Bars, By Michael Pollan, From New York Times Magazine, 19 February, 1995.


The FAS Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin, Issue 7, June 1999. “Appraisals of the Adverse Health Effects of Cannabis Use: Ideology and Evidence” by Wayne Hall


ONDCP Chief Releases Report on Drug Threats Across United States, 2 December 2000.


Thornton, Jacqui “Cannabis Can Kill You” U.S. Census data can be found at

A Brave New World is Pending

A Brave New World is Pending

In the March 6 issue of Science News, J. Raloff wrote “If pregnancies early in adulthood reduce a woman’s lifelong risk of developing breast cancer, could short-term hormonal treatments that simulate aspects of pregnancy do the same thing? A new study suggest that the answer is yes.”

Reading that fast-forwarded my imagination to a horrible future, one described in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” where women of the future undergo surrogate pregnancies. In the book it was for mental reasons, but now, there’s a physical reason to do such a hormonal treatment.

How many other predictions will come true in the next, say, 20 years? Already we have television, airplanes, submarines, cyberspace and virtual reality. Is the next step a measurable move toward Utopia? Will we all live with perfect health? Will we stave off death so effectively that we are killed for population control reasons at the old, old age of 60? Will we lose sight of the goal of a long, productive life, abandon it for a long, forever young life (making aging a disease, because drugs to enhance the here and now build up to a painful later)?

I’m all for advancement in medicine. My own father, an oncologist and hematologist, deals with ground-breaking new procedures and medicines on a daily basis. But to air out my cautious side: if the government ever starts worshiping Henry Ford, outlawing Shakespeare, instituting mandatory sterilization of certain groups of people, encouraging and perpetuating class divisions and distributing drugs to solve potential conflict, help me out by saying “STOP!” really, really loudly.

Then again, this government does revere Henry Ford in a way. If a big car company wanted something done that was contrary to the desires of a community, my bets are on the car company. This thorough encouragement of big business and the tradition of such can almost be seen as worship.

While Shakespeare hasn’t been outlawed anywhere (as far as I know), teaching Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection is banned in some school districts. J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” is banned in some school districts.

Ruth Sherman, a white teacher in a black and Hispanic neighborhood in New York, left her job in fear for her life over a book called “Nappy Hair”: some parents (who of course, hadn’t read the award-winning novel and for the most part weren’t her student’s parents) thought it was racist and divisive.

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