Legalize marijuana and be done with it

March 30, 2011

So the new legislation "that would allow those caught with small amounts of marijuana to avoid punishment altogether if they can convince a judge that they used the drug out of medical necessity" is supposed to be a "middle ground on marijuana?" Get real. This is yet another excuse to put off what should have been done long ago: legalization, not just for medicinal use, but for all citizens.

The fact of the matter is that marijuana is safer than alcohol or tobacco, yet its use can cause one to lose their job, be expelled from schools and universities, and even land in jail. We spend an enormous amount of money to enforce marijuana laws, as evidenced by the 759,593 arrests for possession alone in 2009. That translates to huge sums of money spent on unnecessary law enforcement and a prison population filled with people who are hardly criminals (and are forced to survive in a system that only creates more criminals). Regulation would also bring in a new source of tax revenue, as well as taking a huge cash crop away from drug cartels that terrorize Mexico and other parts of the world.

So please, don't insult our intelligence by telling us that the proposed legislation is a "middle ground." We shouldn't even have to establish a middle ground. The support for legalization is based in fact, while its opponents have long used fear and lies at a great cost to our society.

Joel Beller, Owings Mills

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