Marijuana Should be Legal
I was disappointed to read that Canada's Supreme Court refused to throw out that country's ridiculous laws prohibiting marijuana possession. (AJC, Dec. 24, p. A5.) Still, as the article indicates, there is a large movement to legalize marijuana in Canada that will continue to seek reform.
The same is true of America, where a mass movement to legalize marijuana is rapidly growing with support from across the political spectrum. National Review, the bible of American conservatism, has been calling for marijuana legalization for years. So has the liberal American Civil Liberties Union. So have America's two largest third parties, the Libertarians and the Greens. Democratic Party presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich wants to end to federal penalties for responsible adult marijuana use. Numerous prominent national think tanks and lobbying organizations are working to end marijuana prohibition, including the libertarian Cato Institute, one of the nation's most quoted and cited think tanks.
Compared to legal drugs like cigarettes and alcohol, marijuana is incredibly safe -- not a single death from its use has ever been recorded. An estimated 80-100 million Americans -- including dozens of prominent politicians -- have smoked marijuana. Even most comprehensive government studies of the issue in the last 100 years has concluded that adults should not face criminal penalties for marijuana use.
Yet every year, about half a million Americans are arrested for possession of this substance. Why on earth, in an allegedly free country, should it be a crime for an adult to grow and ingest a plant? The War on Marijuana is utterly at odds with America's tradition of limited government, individual liberty and economic freedom. The Founding Fathers would have been horrified at the idea of a federal government that dared intrude in such a personal and private matter.
The pressure for reform is growing rapidly, and one day -- soon I believe -- America will legalize marijuana. (Or rather, we will re-legalize it, since marijuana was legal in America right up until the mid-1930s.) Shortly thereafter, we will look back at the disaster of marijuana prohibition and shake our heads in disbelief at the incredible folly, waste, black-market-spawned violence, police corruption, loss of fundamental civil liberties, and just the sheer injustice of it all.
James W. Harris