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US NY: Editorial: Legalizing Marijuana


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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v12/n588/a08.html

Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Sat, 17 Nov 2012

Source: Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY)

Copyright: 2012 Daily Freeman

Contact: letters@freemanonline.com

Website: http://www.dailyfreeman.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/3269





In a watershed moment, voters in two states -- Colorado and Washington -- have voted to legalize marijuana.


Note that those votes were not to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana, which prohibitionists and the federal government continue to resist against all logic and humanity. The ballot questions were to legalize the private use of weed for no more exalted purpose than just getting high.


On one level, the votes represent a rejection of the federal government's more-or-less uncompromising, four-decades-long "War on Drugs."


More broadly, the "War on Drugs" is the kissing cousin to Prohibition, by which the nation, in a fit of puritanical insanity, in 1920 prohibited the sale, manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages.


Not coincidentally, the federal government had entered the drug prohibition business only six years earlier, pre-empting what had been an area of state jurisdiction over health.


The attempt to eliminate the consumption of alcohol -- a boon to organized crime and a law enforcement disaster -- lasted only 13 years, but the federal prohibition of non-medicinal drug use has lived on.


The road to this month's vote was a long time coming.


The Gallup poll first started asking Americans about legalizing marijuana in 1969, when a scant 12 percent of respondents favored and 84 percent opposed.


A year ago, the issue reached a crossover point, with 50 percent of Americans supporting legalization and opposition declining to 46 percent.


It remains to be seen how state legalization will play out, as state law cannot pre-empt federal jurisdiction as long as Congress continues to insist. As Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado put it after the vote, "Don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."


But the demographic breakdown suggests the die has been cast for permanent cultural change that eventually will get the attention of federal lawmakers.


Legalization is most popular among younger Americans and is soundly opposed only by persons 65 years and older, with only 31 percent supporting it.


Over time, ever-increasing portions of the electorate will likely support legalization.


On practical grounds, we favor the legalization of marijuana because its prohibition has been a failure as high rates of use and acceptance indicate. Further, continued enforcement unnecessarily occupies police, prosecutors and courts and creates criminal records for millions of dealers and users.


On philosophical grounds we support legalization not because we think marijuana ( or alcohol ) invariably is harmless, but because its use in a society that values individual freedom properly should be seen as a matter of individual choice and, if it becomes necessary, of medical redress, not prosecution and incarceration.

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom

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