Everybody I personally know who's a regular cannabis user has good relationships, pays their taxes, votes, (otherwise) follows the law, lives in a lovely home, and wakes up every morning to go to a good job. They just prefer weed to booze.
To me, that's the difference between preferring pie to ice cream.
To the government, that's the difference between you preferring to commit an armed robbery rather than getting a job.
No, I'm not exaggerating — if anything, I'm understating. As far as the government is concerned, you have a Constitutional right to have a cocktail, but smoking weed is worse than smoking crack or meth.
Wai. DEA, Drug Scheduling
Of all the titanically stupid things our government has ever done, this has to be close to the top.
It will surprise you none to learn some dick was behind this. Dick Nixon, specifically. The funny part is that Nixon himself appointed a commission to study the effect of marijuana.
That commission's conclusions may surprise you:
Neither the marihuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to the public safety...The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law...While the judiciary is the governmental institution most directly concerned with the protection of individual liberties, all policy-makers have a responsibility to consider our constitutional heritage when framing public policy. Regardless of whether or not the courts would overturn a prohibition of possession of marihuana for personal use in the home, we are necessarily influenced by the high place traditionally occupied by the value of privacy in our constitutional scheme.
- National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse Chairman Raymond Philip Shafer's testimony before Congress, 22 March 1972
To recap: marijuana is safe, its use should be decriminalized, and its present criminalization is likely unconstitutional?
This from a Republican former governor?
Thirty-seven years ago?
Nixon put the Shafer Commission's report in the back of the station wagon and drove it out to a nice farm in the country.
Liberated from the facts, the Nixon administration and Congress applied their preconceived notions to classify marijuana (natural, mildly euphoric, non-addictive, non-lethal(1), and pharmacologically useful) among extremely dangerous, highly addictive, ultra-intoxicating synthetic drugs.
Facts? Screw 'em — we've got beliefs!
At President Obama's recent "virtual town hall" meeting, the question with the most votes addressed the economic effectiveness of marijuana decriminalization.
• 15 million Americans smoke pot regularly.
• In 2005, more than 34 thousand people were doing time in state prisons over marijuana.
• In 2006, 830,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, 88% for simple possession. Tens of thousands Americans can't get jobs or student loans, have lost child custody, have forfeited assets to the states, have lost housing or other benefits because they have pot convictions.
• In 2005, the feds alone spent $2.4 billion annually pursuing marijuana users and sellers, the states spent $5.3 billion annually doing the same.(2)
• American buy about $8.5 billion of marijuana from Mexican gangs — about 61% of the gang's income, which fuels some pretty horrific gang violence.
• Marijuana is the #1 cash crop in 12 states.
Anyway, it's a legitimate issue — economic or otherwise.
Obama mocked the question, then dismissed it.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
(1) "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known...a smoker would theoretically have to consume...nearly 1500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response." In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition, U.S. Dept. of Justice, DEA, Docket No. 86-22, Sept. 6, 1988 (Young, J.).
(2) The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, Dr. Jeffrey Miron, 2005 Costs of Marijuana Prohibition: Economic Analysis