Let's get on with it and legalize marijuana

By Jeffrey Rindskopf,

If you're not living under a rock in the most backwater corner of the Midwest, you've probably noticed that Americans are steadily moving toward a more lax policy towards marijuana.

Washington and Colorado approved propositions in November of 2012 legalizing the use and sale of recreational marijuana. In Colorado, the law already went into effect without incident. Other states and districts, too many to list here, have taken steps to lessen punishments and restrictions for marijuana use, allowing medical marijuana and removing jail time for possessing small amounts.

Even more recently, the New Hampshire state legislature became the first state Legislature to pass a bill to legalize recreational cannabis use. Now the bill just needs to survive committee and get a signature from the state governor before the state joins Washington and Colorado. According to Fox News, this could be the beginning of a domino effect in New England that sees Vermont legalize it too.

As election years roll by, we're only going to see more states with legalization on the ballot, and it's not hard to imagine how those'll go. A recent CNN poll reports that a majority of Americans, 55 percent in fact, are for pot legalization. Keep in mind, that this same question saw only 16 percent support in 1987, so it's clear which way the tides are turning. Even Texas governor Rick Perry came out in support of cannabis just this week.

At this point, the strict marijuana prohibition laws of the federal government and many states seem more and more antiquated and invalid by the day. This is a drug that a majority of Americans now support the legalization of--and those who don't tended to be over 65. This is a drug less addictive than alcohol, tobacco, or even caffeine.

It's a relic of the Nixon era, when the president would never have admitted to getting near a drug and called them "public enemy number one." The war on drugs started then rages on, but regardless of how you feel about harder drugs, it's time to admit that marijuana has been demonized for decades while thousands of people use it without serious health risks or addiction.

It doesn't make sense not to shift policy now. Since it's so clear where public opinion is headed, all those laws prohibiting marijuana just serve to clog up already overcrowded prisons with non-violent drug offenders. It's a waste of police manpower, it's a waste of federal manpower, and it's a waste of the taxpayer money that funds them.

Put simply, I think most who aren't in denial can see that recreational pot is just going to be legalized in state after state until the federal government finally crumbles. My concern is how many non-violent offenders will be locked away and robbed of their lives before we get there.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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