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Wonk Wars: Should Pot Be Legal?

True/False: Marijuana Should Be Legal, Regulated, and Taxed. Discuss!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Welcome to Wonk Wars, a weekly feature from It's A Free Country as part of the Brian Lehrer Show's 30 Issues in 30 Days. Early each week, we'll post one of those issues in the Wonk Wars sections of the website and invite two or more policy experts to start the discussion online, along with your input. Then, each Thursdays, the conversation continues on-air at the Brian Lehrer Show.

This Week's True/False: Marijuana Should Be Legal, Regulated, and Taxed

Opening statement from Charles Bowden, journalist and author of Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields

The war on drugs ended decades ago--drugs are everywhere. The only war left is the one against the American people who are put in cages if they do not pursue the vices recommended by their government--for example, booze, tobacco and mother's little helpers from the doctor. Legalizing marijuana should be the gateway to human freedom. Then we'll legalize the rest and beat our narcs into plowshares.

Opening statement from Jesse P. Levine and Loren Siegel, Marijuana Arrest Research Project, New York, NY. 

Like alcohol prohibition in the 1930's, the criminalization of marijuana is an epic failure. After a trillion dollars spent on the war on drugs, young people report that marijuana is easier to buy than alcohol. The U.S. now arrests and punishes seven hundred thousand people a year for possessing marijuana.

Marijuana penalties are not meted out on an equal basis. U.S. government surveys consistently find that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks and Latinos.  Nevertheless, across the country, young people of color are arrested at far higher rates than whites.

In both New York and Los Angeles, the two largest U.S. cities, police arrest African Americans for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites. From 1997 to 2009, police in New York City arrested and jailed nearly half a million people simply for possessing marijuana, eighty seven percent of them blacks and Latinos. Extreme racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests have led the California NAACP to declare marijuana legalization a civil rights issue.

Convictions for possessing tiny amounts of marijuana can wreak havoc in peoples’ lives. Both arrests and convictions create criminal records nowadays easily found on the internet for twenty dollars or less by employers, landlords, schools, and credit agencies. Guilty pleas to two marijuana possession offenses make an immigrant deportable, a public housing resident subject to eviction, and a college student ineligible for financial aid. 

Legalization is the only solution to the system-wide racial bias in marijuana law enforcement and the severe collateral consequences that flow from marijuana possession arrests.

Opening statement from David Evans of the Drug Free America Foundation.

(note: footnotes and sources for David's contribution can be found here.)

Most of the arguments in favor of drug legalization focus on marijuana. However, marijuana is far more powerful today than it was years ago and it serves as an entry point for the use of other illegal drugs. This is known as the “gateway effect.” Despite arguments from the drug culture to the contrary, marijuana is addictive. This addiction has been well described in the scientific literature and it consists of both a physical dependence (tolerance and subsequent withdrawal) and a psychological habituation. [FN1]

According to a US report released in June of 2008, the levels of THC - the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - have reached the highest ever amounts since scientific analysis of the drug began in the late 1970s. The average amount of THC has now reached average levels of 9.6 percent (the highest level in one of the samples was 37.2 percent). This compares to the average of just under 4 percent reported in 1983. Additionally, higher potency marijuana may be contributing to a substantial increase in the number of American teenagers in treatment for marijuana dependence. According to the U.S. 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), among Americans age 12 and older there are 14.8 million current (past-month; 6.0 percent) users of marijuana and 4.2 million Americans (1.7 percent) classified with dependency or abuse of marijuana. Additionally, the latest information from the U.S. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS, 2006), reports that 16.1% of drug treatment admissions were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse. This compares to 6% in 1992. A similar trend is taking place in the Netherlands, where new data indicate that the number of people seeking assistance for cannabis there has risen, from 1,951 in 1994 to 6,544 in 2006 - a 235 percent increase. [FN2] In 2006, the average THC concentration in Dutch marihuana was 16% which is even higher than that in the US. [FN3]

Marijuana is an addictive drug. It poses significant health consequences to its users, including those who may be using it for “medical” purposes. In the U.S., marijuana is the number one drug that young people are in treatment for. [FN4]

The use of marijuana in early adolescence is particularly dangerous. Adults who used marijuana early were five times more likely to become dependent on any drug and eight times more likely to use cocaine and fifteen times more likely to use heroin later in life. [FN5]

The damage to health caused by marijuana

Drug legalization advocates claim that marijuana is less dangerous than drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Some European countries have lowered the classification of marijuana based on the false perception that it is less harmful. However, studies over the last few years give us a lot of new information about marijuana. They show that marijuana is not harmless but that it is toxic and addictive. Recent studies show the following destructive effects of marijuana use: [FN6]

       birth defects
       the worsening of pain
       respiratory system damage
       links to cancer
       AIDS - marijuana opens the door to Kaposi’s sarcoma
       brain damage
       strokes
       immune system damage
       mental illness
       violence
       infertility
       hepatitis

The costs of legalizing marijuana will far outweigh and any reduced costs to law enforcement. Health care costs will go up, drugged driving will increase and industrial

accidents will increase. In addition there will be more crime that will be caused by the psychoactive effects of marijuana because marijuana use will increase. 

 

We'll be updating this page with more perspectives throughout the week, but feel free to add your thoughts below. After all, we're all wonks in wonk wars!

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Comments [53]

Trouble from Tennessee

Ok apparently David Evans is a moron!! I have smoked weed since I was 15 years old with times in between that I did not touch it for years and it did not bother me not to have it! However when I was 19 years old I was hooked on "coke" for a year then I quit. I am now 33 years old and if someone has a joint I can take it or leave it doesn't bother me not to smoke it, but if someone happen to cut out a line of coke for me I couldn't walk away and I haven't touched any of that in 13 years!! Thats an addication!!!! David get your fats right and stop judging things you have never tried!!

Mar. 18 2012 02:28 PM
Phillip from Brooklyn, New York

Drug use across the board peaked in 1979 went down over the next ten years and has been consistent since then. Although marijuana use has been consistent for the last ten years arrests have increased by as much as ten times. Arrests are not effecting use! Please stop punishing young people, throwing hundreds of thousands of them in jail every year, and justifying it has for there own good. I worked with students in the South Bronx and they are much more scared of the 34,000 new york police officers with guns, who arrest them for, "loitering" and "marijuana possession" then of marijuana. The kids do not want your protection from marijuana they want your protection from unaccountable police forces. Evan's is silent about the racial bias of this policing and the collateral consequences of these arrests. How much damage is it worth to hold your moral ground that marijuana should be illegal - even if illegality does nothing to stop use.

Oct. 28 2010 02:06 PM
Jeremy from Harlem

It was difficult, reading David Evans' argument, to tell when and whether he was talking about young teens, or the general population. Regardless, I'm surprised nobody has taken a Libertarian-type position: all drugs should be legal! Telling me there are things that I am not permitted to put in my body is invasive, at best. If somebody wants to cause damage to his body, let him! If he causes injury or inconvenience to others, then there are laws to deal with that already; certainly if someone is driving while high, and causes an accident, then there are DWI-similar laws to deal with prosecution, even as simple as a reckless driving charge. Impaired driving is impaired driving (although, from personal experience and observation, I've always found people who are high while driving are exceedingly careful!).
I recognize that we will probably never legalize cocaine, heroin etcetera. But something I can grow in my closet, process and smoke, regardless of the effect or the increased strength over the last 25 years (and really, what point was Evans trying to make with that? If marijuana hadn't been illegal, growers wouldn't have had to make it stronger, as doing so meant they could sell smaller amounts with the same or more efficacy. Far safer for them to grow smaller amounts then larger amounts) shouldn't come with proscriptions from the government, or any entity, any more than brewing one's own beer, operating a private still, or growing marigolds (which can be processed into LSD).
There seems to be argument over the physically addictive attributes of marijuana. Other than a mild headache during a period of non-use after protracted use, I've never seen any evidence for physical addiction; this headache is far less painful and endures for shorter periods than those associated with caffeine withdrawal, not to mention DTs and heroin withdrawal (although I don't like comparing one thing to another and suggesting the one should be legal because it's the same; ie "if this is legal, then this should be" in re caffeine).
Last, no one is suggesting that marijuana be legal for children (persons under 18, I presume). Regulation would be along the same lines as for alcohol, and would make it at least as difficult to purchase legally. Would there still be an underground trade? Would kids still be able to get it? Yes, to both. But hopefully, with its being legalized, the doors would open to more honest discussions with parents, teachers and peers regarding the pros and cons of marijuana use, with a focus on the cons as relate to the age of the child and children's lowered ability to assess risk. "Just say no" has proven to be about as effective as the purity vows that have been prevalent in high schools the last few years.

Oct. 28 2010 12:13 PM
Clif from Mid-town

I think this is very similar to the Teenage Sex issue. People are going to do it anyway no matter what the consequences. I tried pot for the first time at 10 years old and started using it regularly at about 15. I'm now 39. I've never been "busted" for it and it has caused (barring any medical stuff I don't know about) no problems in my life. I can hold down a job and function perfectly well in society.

I agree with legalizing ALL drugs for tax purposes AND to lower the crime rates around these substances. Otherwise, there will ALWAYS be an underground market and, consequentially, violence. The rest is up to PARENTS to have a healthy relationship with their kids and to teach them about the pitfalls of drug use and addiction (INCLUDING ALCOHOL).

Oct. 28 2010 11:43 AM
bill bryant from philadelphia, pa

If I'm correct if the mention of 25 square foot of cultivation allowed of marijuana would translate to 5 foot by 5 foot area where this particular plant can be allowed to be grown. David Evans opposing this if I understand stated that this could mean the cultivation of thousands of plants. Obviously he with his embarrassing urban talk & allies never grew a damn thing. Maybe he meant that the thousands of negligible Mexicans ought to be slaughtered supporting his position. Thank god for my free country our naval ships are supported with sturdy hemp sails and my president Mr. George Washington writes on high quality wonderful hemp paper in this wonderful land of freedom.

Oct. 28 2010 11:37 AM

Rick V
just because i want something doesn't make me addicted. not everyone one wants to put on a suit everyday and work for the shareholders. some have other priorities, live and let live i say.

Oct. 28 2010 11:30 AM
Bill

@Rick V: Yes, marijuana is addictive. I and most of my pot-smoking friends are to varying degrees addicted, but there's an important distinction to be made between psychological addiction and physical addiction. When people tell you that marijuana isn't addictive whereas alcohol is, they're talking about physical addiction. There's no addict of marijuana anywhere who stands to suffer anything remotely as consequential as alcoholism. No one suffers marijuana-withdrawal if supplies run dry. Marijuana is psychologically addictive in so far as any habit is (attempting to break any deep-seated habit will result in some anxiety), though certainly the more so for providing a psychotropic experience for us to habituate certain activities around--like watching movies, or listening to music, whatever. Marijuana activists would do well to acknowledge the distinction: admit the reality of marijuana dependence while denying its equivalency with and consequent diminishment of actual physically addictive substances.

Also, regarding marijuana as gateway drug: post hoc ergo propter hoc. Kids try alcohol before they try marijuana. I even tried LSD before I tried marijuana. What do they all have in common? They've all been sexed up by proscription. And, anyway, if indeed marijuana serves as a gateway to harder drugs precisely due to its mildness, then you're taking away much of the urgency for its proscription in the first place. Is it mild or isn't it? Perhaps if our anti-drug rhetoric were honest, if we weren't making false equivalencies, it would cease to serve as a gateway drug. Kid sees that marijuana is ubiquitous (because it is) and that a high percentage of his peers are using it with no apparent detriment, and passing from the anecdotal to the personal, he tries it and finds it's kind of mild! So if what they say about it being just as bad and addictive, say, as cocaine is true, then cocaine must not be so bad....

The fallacious post-hoc reasoning by which we label it a gateway drug in justification of standing it along side harder, physically addictive drugs, is what makes it a gateway drug.

Oct. 28 2010 11:26 AM
Rick V from Livingston, NJ

Bernie.. I can do without the insults, thank you.

I have known people who can not function without smoking every day. I'm sure you know people like that too. And yes, I do also know people who are recreational smokers. Not saying its one or the other.

Our society already sends out the message to our youth that you can "medicate" any problem at all. And that "partying" is just part of enjoying life. It will do no good to send a further message that getting high is just fine.

I can see it now, the next MTV hit show.. California Dreamin... 6 young people at a malibu beach house getting high all day long. But.. at least they won't get into bar fights. Oh yeah.. they did it already, it was called Beavis and Butthead.

Oct. 28 2010 11:19 AM
Alfred Anderson

As a retired law enforcement officer (40 years of service), it is about time to legalize marijuana. If you take out the middle-man, crime will probably go down. The last 11 years of my career was spent in the courts. Every morning at least 45 minutes was wasted dealing with appearance tickets for marijuana. The people with the summons' were average every day working people or students. Marijuana use will not go up if legalized. It seems the people who have a big stake in keeping it illegal are afraid of losing their lucrative prohibition jobs if it is legalized.

Oct. 28 2010 11:10 AM
bernie from bklyn

rick v- you are wrong. it is NOT addictive. people like you can say this over and over again but it doesn't make it true. do you watch the news alot? so therefore are you addicted to watchingthe news? will you go into convulsions if you don't watch the news?
and to say that once you smoke pot you will be instantly overcome by the need to chase a bigger high is just ridiculous and just proves you've never really smoked pot. it's not about that.
and i know just as many people who smoke everyday and are super successful,powerful citizens.

Oct. 28 2010 11:06 AM
Bill

@Bef: Mexico will lose the US marijuana market if it's legalized here just as bootleggers and organized crime lost the US liquor market when Prohibition was ended (which isn't to say that none of them went legit when it did). Why would I buy from some shady street dealer when in the event of legalization I could go to a store to choose among regulated, US-grown varieties for purchase?

Oct. 28 2010 11:03 AM
dboy from nyc

Your kids become addicts and chronic dope smokers because you don't have a relationship with them.

Make a dinner, sit down and eat it together. Have a conversation. Listen and hear something.

Connect!

Oct. 28 2010 11:03 AM
Rick V from Livinston, NJ

Bernie... because of pot is seen as a soft drug, young people are open to experimenting with pot. After awhile, some will be more abt to try a harder drug. They feel less inhibited to try something they once thought of as completely dangerous. Also, as with all drug abuse, one is always chasing a bigger better high. When the thrill of pot is gone, one will then move on to something harded.

And I agree, yes, those who do move on to harder drugs are "troubled". But thats the thing, you dont know who will be content with being a recreational user and who will become addicted to pot, or worse. And yes, pot is addictive. I have known a few people in my time that literally do nothing but smoke. They miss out on educational and career opportunities because they rather be high all the time. Anyone who claims pot is not addictive is as delusional as someone who claims alcohol isn't.

Oct. 28 2010 11:01 AM
dboy from nyc

The market will exist regardless of policy. People will continue to smoke, no matter what. The "War On Drugs" is futile and absurd!!!

Criminalization creates criminals not fewer users... and costs a s•load of $$$$!!

Oct. 28 2010 10:59 AM

Bef,
actually I buy mine from hasidic jews in willamsburg, I won't need criminals if I could grow my own.

Oct. 28 2010 10:59 AM
A.Messina from NYC

Legalization of Marijuana equals economic stimulus. Legalization will introduce a whole new industry. Regulate it as we do alcohol & tobacco. Marijuana is everywhere you go & easily obtainable anywhere. This is a battle law enforcement will never win, just like prohibition in the 1930's.

Oct. 28 2010 10:57 AM
dboy from nyc

Flood the market with cheap product and the criminal profit $$$ incentive is eliminated. It's basic (conservative), capitalistic theory.

Paternalistic, social conservative IDIOTS!!!

Get a clue!

Oct. 28 2010 10:54 AM
Bef with an F from Putnam, NY

So we're going to legalize giving our money to people who kill whole families to get the drugs to us? We're going to officially sanction criminal activity in Mexico? Wake up people, there will always be criminals involved in the distribution of the stuff.

Oh, & the "waste" in the police department? It's just that government jobs didn't receive the cleaning out & elimination of redundancy that most other employers went through with this recession. Somebody's got to keep the economy moving... Doesn't mean it's fair.

Oct. 28 2010 10:53 AM
Dave from manhattan

Marijuana is an analgesic and a muscle relaxant. Combined with exercise, it is useful to deal with anxiety and depression, and allows a greater level of general physical activity with less pain for older people.

Oct. 28 2010 10:51 AM
dboy from nyc

Enough with this paternalistic BS!!!

Oct. 28 2010 10:50 AM
John Veit from Rockaway Beach

http://globalganjareport.com/content/americans-for-safe-access-issues-voter-guides

This is a great guide to the Americans for Safe Access Voter Guide. Globalganjareport.com has excellent information about New York pot laws on their cannabis market reports page.

Mr. Evans is typical of think tank anti-drug types, desperate for federal cash.

Oct. 28 2010 10:49 AM
Bill

Criminalization not only creates crime out of what would otherwise be peaceable conduct by private individuals, but attracts additional criminal activity--provides a market and an incentive for it--through the generation of black market economies and the violent methods by which parties jockey for control in them.

Oct. 28 2010 10:49 AM
Mike from Manhattan

Prohibition doesn't work. People can buy Marijuana and under age people can buy it as easily as alcohol. Some substances are so dangerous, like crack or methamphetamine, are so dangerous that ineffective prohibition is worth the effort. Marijuana is not in the same category.

David Evans makes his living defending people accused of crime. Any reduction of possible crime categories reduces his potential income. No wonder he is so adamantly against legalization that he uses untrue statements about non-existent research to bolster his arguments.

Oct. 28 2010 10:49 AM
jm

This is absolutely ridiculous. I use it every once in a while for menstrual cramping or stress (and much much less than the average person's use of alcohol), and it would be nice not to have to worry about criminal penalty.

Just because everyone is unable to practice moderation doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to use a substance responsibly.

Oct. 28 2010 10:48 AM
Edward from NJ

David Evans points to the large number of people in substance abuse treatment for marijuana use. I would be curious to know if court ordered treatment -- to avoid jail time -- plays into that at all.

Oct. 28 2010 10:48 AM
Amy from Manhattan

David Evans said that if pot were legalized, there would be advertisements for it. First, I don't get what the relevance of that is, & second, I doubt it would happen, because marijuana would still be illegal under Federal law.

Oct. 28 2010 10:48 AM
Marcos

If alcohol costs the government so much, then why not make that illegal as well?

Oct. 28 2010 10:47 AM
dboy from nyc

PLEASE LEGALIZE!

I don't even smoke nor advocate it for anyone!

Oct. 28 2010 10:47 AM
lady m from NJ

I was arrested for a low-level marijuana offense last year in Manhattan. I was smoking a tiny joint on the street with 2 friends and was cuffed and stuffed, etc.

I went to my mandatory court date a month later. I'm not exaggerating when I say that at least 85% of the hundred or so people who stood before the judge that morning were there for the same thing: low-level marijuana offenses. Of those 85%, 95% were immediately dismissed by the judge and let go with NO FINES and NO SUMMONS.

It became very clear to my friends and I that the SOLE PURPOSE of our arrest was to employ a police task force. The city made NO MONEY from our arrest, and if anything, lost money in time and lost wages for the three of us to skip work to be there....multiply that by those dozens of other cases with the same income (and that was just between 9am and 12pm!), and you've lost thousands of dollars IN JUST ONE MORNING!!!

I was never a marijuana activist, but this money-waste made all 3 of us walk out of that courthouse with a pretty darn good argument for legalization, based on ECONOMICS.

Oct. 28 2010 10:46 AM

FYI
being sent to drug rehab by your parents or the courts doesn't not make u a drug addict.

Oct. 28 2010 10:46 AM
lady m from NJ

I was arrested for a low-level marijuana offense last year in Manhattan. I was smoking a tiny joint on the street with 2 friends and was cuffed and stuffed, etc.

I went to my mandatory court date a month later. I'm not exaggerating when I say that at least 85% of the hundred or so people who stood before the judge that morning were there for the same thing: low-level marijuana offenses. Of those 85%, 95% were immediately dismissed by the judge and let go with NO FINES and NO SUMMONS.

It became very clear to my friends and I that the SOLE PURPOSE of our arrest was to employ a police task force. The city made NO MONEY from our arrest, and if anything, lost money in time and lost wages for the three of us to skip work to be there....multiply that by those dozens of other cases with the same income (and that was just between 9am and 12pm!), and you've lost thousands of dollars IN JUST ONE MORNING!!!

I was never a marijuana activist, but this money-waste made all 3 of us walk out of that courthouse with a pretty darn good argument for legalization, based on ECONOMICS.

Oct. 28 2010 10:45 AM
Bill

Not everyone will grow it in their own gardens. Not everyone grows vegetables in their own gardens. Few have gardens to grow them in. Most of us buy taxed and regulated vegetables. And many of us who do have gardens in which to grow marijuana upon smoking marijuana could no longer be bothered to grow it.

Also: the more potent the marijuana, the less of it we smoke, the fewer carcinogens we intake.

Oct. 28 2010 10:45 AM
dboy from nyc

Eliminate the profit margin and the middle man aka. the criminals!

Oct. 28 2010 10:45 AM
Robert from NYC

Yet many if not all of out prescriptions drugs cause serious damage and even death in some cases and yet they are approved, while the "side effects" of marijuana are so minor as compared to the FDA approved Rx drugs, oh excuse me, these are called meds no drugs. I don't have have to list the problems, serious problems, caused by these "meds" just check them out in the PDR or even listen carefully and read the small print at the bottom of the screen for those advertised on tv on in paper media.

Oct. 28 2010 10:44 AM
Edward from brooklyn

Obviously tax revenues will not be generated from personal growers, but the right to grow on your own is a symbolic motion towards private entities being allowed to sell. The facility given to buyers once that happens WILL in fact generate billions of dollars in tax revenues. Potheads are going to be much more likely to take the convenient road of buying joints the way they do cigarrettes, rather than growing they're own garden.

Oct. 28 2010 10:44 AM
Rick V from Livingston, NJ

Can the gentleman whose worked in law enforcement share with us his experience with motorists driving under the influence of pot? I believe, if I am not mistaken, there is sobriety test as with DWI, for someone who is high. What are the stats for vehicular accidents/fatal crashes involving pot?

Oct. 28 2010 10:44 AM
Brandon from Starbucks ;)

The commenter who is against the legalization is making hollow points. Saying we won't be able to raise tax revenue on marijuana because you can grow own is akin to saying we shouldn't expect to gather any sales tax on food because people can have their own gardens or better yet, farms. Alcohol makes the same point in cases of home beer brewers or wine makers. The problem with this issue, as with all, is the refusal of those on either side to be honest and straightforward about the realities of a non black and white world.

Oct. 28 2010 10:42 AM
bernie from bklyn

to Rick V- they also breated air before they went on to the harder drugs. so is breathing a gateway drug also?
if someone is going to succumb to real drug addiction, they will with or without marijuana use.

Oct. 28 2010 10:42 AM
dboy from nyc

Prohibition didn't work the first time around!

The only folks that profit under prohibition are the criminals!

Use the revenue for school drug education and rehab.

The number of addicts does not change!

How much does it cost to warehouse low-level, non violent marijuana offenders in prison???!!

C'mon!

Oct. 28 2010 10:42 AM
bernie from bklyn

marijuana is NOT addictive.
marijuana, if legalized, will not 'cause more "mexicans will AK-47's to cause violence and grow in the forest". the OPPOSITE will happen
marijuana is NOT a gateway drug.
marijuana IS less harmful than alcohol, prescribed drugs, cigarettes and those are regulated and "controlled".
mr.evans understand NOTHING about marijuana or marijuana use. in his bird sized brain it's the same as cocaine and heroin...people will smoke a joint then go out and rob people for moeny to buy another joint. that is how he and others like hom see it and it proves they are ignorant about this issue beyond belief.
what costs will go up? medical costs? ok, why do doctors prescribe something that will increase visits to the docotr or the hospital?

Oct. 28 2010 10:40 AM
Alcohol is worse from Astoria


I've worked with law enforcement for years, and I can tell you I have NEVER seen a case of domestic violence where alcohol abuse was not involved. But nobody ever got high and then beat their wife or child. There's just no comparison.

Oct. 28 2010 10:40 AM
Joel from Nyack, NY

It should be legalized. Marijuana is far more benign than alcohol and tobacco. It is time to stop demonizing marijuana. It is also far more benign than most of the legal prescription mood altering drugs that many are addicted to.

Oct. 28 2010 10:39 AM
nico

There's no reason not to legalize a safe and commonly-used recreational drug, the effects of which are (imho) delightful. BUT why must we do it in the service of tax revenue -- penalizing smokers -- when the state has a million other, easier ways to elicit funds. Progressive taxation, anyone?

Oct. 28 2010 10:37 AM
Crystal from Greenpoint

I'm support legalization, but not regulation or taxation. Creating the bureaucracy necessary to tax and regulate marijuana would cost more than the revenue it would generate.

Oct. 28 2010 10:37 AM
Rick V from Livingston, NJ

Bernie... speaking from my own life experience (I'm 44 and grew up in NYC and burbs), the one common pattern with everyone I have known that had a hard drug abuse problem is that as a teen they started out experimenting with pot. Coincidence.. I don't think so.

Oct. 28 2010 10:32 AM

The only reason that marijuana can be considered a "gateway drug" is because it is illegal. Because it is illegal, and must be bought from drug dealers, said dealer will try to upsell their customers (this is still a capitalist society), and those who have the personality to want to try harder drugs would have easier access. Meanwhile, those of us with no interest in harder drugs, still don't bother with them. If marijuana were made legal that issue would fade away completely.

As per Rick's argument that we are "too immature" as a society, I'd like to point out that sugar, caffeine and alcohol make people "lose control" far more than weed. Weed has been a quiet part of American culture for generations, but how often do you hear about people getting violent or reckless while high?

Oct. 28 2010 10:31 AM
george Henry from nyc

Cigarettes are far more addictive and harmfu lAND are legal thanks to big business money and lobbyists. Alcohol is more dangerous and more addictive; they both should be illegal before weed. It s time to make it legal and controlled. As of now, any high school kid can get a joint faster than a six pack of beer. Lets regulate it and make it harder for kids to get

Oct. 28 2010 10:29 AM

NO I'd rather my tax dollars be spent on policing adults. people need to be treated like children.

Oct. 28 2010 10:29 AM
bernie from bklyn

it's amazing how much we allow those in the public eye to lie. lie, without any recourse. candidates can air commercials claiming lies to be truths about their opponents, pundits and politicians can appear on shows like "meet the press" and lie without any chance of being called on it and brainwashed, close minded "authorities" like david evans can make claims that are lies with a straight face and still be deemed an "authority".
MARIJUANA IS NOT A GATEWAY DRUG. that fact does not change no matter how many misinformed people say it is. and if you keep spewing lies over and over again that won't make it true either. it's just such a ridiculous argument. i know this is basically an ignorant country but i'm just astounded when i see how low it goes.

Oct. 28 2010 10:20 AM
Imani Woods

Loren Siegel - Hi Imani here. Legalize it now. It makes no sense for pot possession to be a punishable offense. I invite everyone to read the arrest report. There you will find, once again, racism and an attempt to justify it. Sad that we have to live like this.

Oct. 28 2010 10:11 AM
Peg

The second gateway drug is TV, which sets the stage for a society way too immature to deal with legalized drugs in a responsible manner.

Oct. 28 2010 10:04 AM
Peg

The first gateway drug is refined sugar and it's all downhill from there.

Oct. 28 2010 09:11 AM
Rick V from Livingston, NJ

This country is way too immature of a society to deal with legalized drugs in a responsible manner. You just have to look at how out of control young people and adults get with alcohol. Europeans have a more sophisticated attitude towards alcohol. Therefore they can handle legalized drugs, which in reality they don't condone either, just allow for some legal use under very strict rules.

If marijuana became legal in the US, it will only lead to an increase in drug use with younger people.

Oct. 28 2010 09:10 AM

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