Marijuana policy should change

A Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse survey conducted in 2002 found that teens can buy marijuana easier than purchasing cigarettes or beer. It marked the first time the survey showed marijuana as the most accessible of the three. “Things seem to be getting even easier for us potheads.” Well, I guess that is what I would say if I were a pothead.

By now, unless you have been living in a hole, you are somewhat familiar with the “dreaded weed.”

I am quite sure that since the time you were small it has been hammered into your head that smoking marijuana is bad. If you have paid attention to the new television ads you may have found that you are going to have unprotected sex and shoot your friend in the head because you got high.

Marijuana is going to give you cancer, make you stupid and probably give you the gum disease gingivitis. Oh, and don’t forget the Office of National Drug Control Policy says you are a terrorist if you smoke pot.

Is pot really this bad? We as a society spend a massive amount of time, money and manpower preventing this supposed iniquity.

The claim is that marijuana is harmful. However, the evidence proves otherwise.

When it comes to drugs, tobacco is the No. 1 killer (400,000 deaths annually) followed by alcohol (100,000 deaths annually), according to an article in the Sept. 20 issue of The Lancet by Stephen Sidney, associate director for research for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif.

Even aspirin has caused more documented deaths than marijuana, according to mortality statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

On the Sacramento State campus you are facing either suspension or expulsion for smoking marijuana. In the courts, depending upon how much marijuana you have, you could be looking at anywhere from a fine to prison time.

The United States spends millions of dollars trying to combat the entrance of marijuana into our society. At the same time we allow tobacco and alcohol to roam free.

“The societal costs of (marijuana interdiction) cost U.S. taxpayers in excess of $12 billion annually,” according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In 2002 613,986 people were arrested for simple marijuana possession. This was 88 percent of marijuana arrests.

Each of these non-violent prisoners displaces another criminal in the corrections system.

We would be better served by keeping violent criminals in prison longer. Rapists and murderers are set free early on parole to make way for mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.

Where did the legislators go wrong? Are we as a society naive to think the ways things are now are correct?

“Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this clearer than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use,” President Jimmy Carter said in 1977. Arrests and penalties for possession have only increased since then.

The United States should follow Britain’s lead, where Members of Parliament voted this week 316 to 160 to downgrade marijuana from a Class B to a Class C scheduled drug. This makes money saving decision about marijuana. I hope that we will soon follow. There are many other horrible drugs and crimes out there that we should worry about.

Taylor Tipton, The State Hornet, California State University