Should Marijuana Be Legalized? Yes

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Apr 10, 2001.

  1. By Sara Boettcher
    Source: Register-Guard

    For the past 20 years, we have been involved in a complicated, costly and largely ineffective war on drugs.
    In spite of Just Say No, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and the prosecution of drug offenders, drug abuse is still a big, messy and expensive problem. It is a problem best solved with the legalization and regulation of marijuana. Neither the health risks nor the effects of marijuana are more severe than those of alcohol or tobacco.

    A Johns Hopkins University study published in the May 1999 American Journal of Epidemiology reported "no significant differences in cognitive decline between heavy users, light users and nonusers of cannabis" in the 1,318 participants studied over a 15-year period.

    Additionally, marijuana addiction is psychological, not physical, and therefore relatively easy to break.

    "More than 90 percent of people who have ever used the drug have long since quit," says a 1998 special report on marijuana in New Scientist magazine, suggesting that the grasp of cannabis addiction is weak.

    If marijuana isn't very dangerous, aren't we throwing our money away by pretending that it is? Considering the cost of arrests, trials and incarcerations, busting people for marijuana is expensive.

    For example, according to the FBI's 1999 Uniform Crime Report, 46 percent of the 1.53 million U.S. drug arrests in 1999 were for marijuana. Of those, 88 percent were for possession alone.

    If marijuana were legal, money currently spent combatting cannabis could be used in ways that are far more likely to curb abuse: prevention and treatment programs for hard drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine.

    While prevention is the best way to stop drugs, programs such as Nancy Reagan's Just Say No campaign and DARE have failed.

    In a study in the August 1999 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, in which 1,002 individuals experienced either DARE or a standard curriculum in the sixth grade, "few differences were found between the two groups in terms of actual drug use, drug attitudes or self-esteem, and in no case did the DARE group have a more successful outcome than the comparison group" upon re-evaluation at age 20.

    DARE lacked results because, while it taught kids how to say "no," it didn't make them any more inclined to want to say "no." Prevention programs are more likely to be effective if they give factual knowledge about drug abuse - how it affects the mind, body and life of the user.

    In addition to preventative measures, money also needs to be channeled into addiction treatment programs, such as counseling and rehabilitation, which help to end the addiction cycle.

    It is high time we accept the errors in our war on drugs and take measures to correct them. After 20 years of failed policies, enough is enough. Marijuana is not on a par with drugs such as heroin and shouldn't be treated as if it were.

    With the decriminalization of marijuana, our money and time can be focused on ending real drug-abuse problems. Only then can we hope to lessen the grip of serious drug addiction.

    Complete Title: The Great Debate: Should Marijuana Be Legalized? Yes: Declare Truce in War on Pot

    Sara Boettcher is a senior at Creswell High School.

    Source: Register-Guard (OR)
    Author: Sara Boettcher
    Published: April 9, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 The Register-Guard

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