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Decriminalizing Marijuana

Posted Oct 19 2010 9:31am

Derived from the cannabis sativa plant, marijuana (hemp) has been used as an agricultural product in the United States to make cloth, lacquer and rope since the colonial period. Recreational drug use of marijuana dates from the 1920s.
Those who advocate decriminalization of marijuana argue that legalization would • Reduce drug-related crime.
• Redirect resources used for investigation, prosecution and punishment of drug offenders to more productive purposes.
• Reduce prison system overcrowding.
• Result in research development of medicinal use of marijuana.
“The vehemence of marijuana’s opponents and the harsh punishments routinely administered to marijuana offenders cannot be explained by a simple concern for public health,” writes author Eric Schlosser in The Atlantic Monthly article More Reefer Madness. “The attack on marijuana, since its origins early in this century, has in reality been a cultural wara moral crusade in defense of traditional American values.”
“In order to eliminate marijuana use, state and federal legislators have sanctioned an enormous increase in prosecutorial power, the emergence of a class of professional informers and the widespread confiscation of private property by the government without triallegal weapons reminiscent of those used in the former Soviet-bloc nations,” says Schlosser.
California is leading in terms of progressive drug policy reform, and has become the first state to decriminalize marijuana. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill last month that fully decriminalizes possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in the state, making the maximum punishment just a $100 fine. In November, California citizens will vote on Proposition 19, a ballot proposition to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

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