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June 10, 2012

"Efforts to Relax Pot Rules Gaining Momentum in US"

The title of this post is the headline of this new AP article, which includes these excerpts:

Once consigned to the political fringe, marijuana policy is appearing on legislative agendas around the country thanks to an energized base of supporters and an increasingly open-minded public.   Lawmakers from Rhode Island to Colorado are mulling medical marijuana programs, pot dispensaries, decriminalization and even legalization.  Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now authorize medical marijuana and 14, including neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts, have rolled back criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.

Rhode Island is poised to become the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana possession. The state's General Assembly passed legislation last week that would eliminate the threat of big fines or even jail time for the possession of an ounce or less of pot.  Instead, adults caught with small amounts of marijuana would face a $150 civil fine.  Police would confiscate the marijuana, but the incident would not appear on a person's criminal record. Minors caught with pot would also have to complete a drug awareness program and community service....

Some supporters of decriminalization say they'd like to go even further.  "America's 50-year war on drugs has been an abysmal failure," said Rep. John Savage, a retired school principal from East Providence.  "Marijuana in this country should be legalized.  It should be sold and taxed."

Opponents warned of dire consequences to the new policy.  "What kind of message are we sending to our youth?  We are more worried about soda — for health reasons — than we are about marijuana," said one opponent, Rhode Island state Rep. John Carnevale a Democrat from Providence....

Medical marijuana helped bring marijuana policy into the mainstream back in 1996, when California became the first state to authorize the use of cannabis for medicinal use. Other states followed suit.  "It's now politically viable to talk about these things," said Robert Capecchi, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports the reduction or elimination of penalties for medical and recreational pot use.  "The public understands that there are substances that are far more harmful — alcohol, tobacco — that we regulate.  People are realizing just how much money is being wasted on prohibition."

Colorado and Washington state will hold fall referendums on legalizing marijuana. A ballot question on legalization failed in California in 2010.  This month, Connecticut's governor signed legislation to allow medical marijuana there.  Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed cutting the penalty for public possession of small amounts of pot....

Robert DuPont, who served as the nation's drug czar under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, said Americans should be wary of a slippery slope to legalization.  While marijuana may not cause the life-threatening problems associated with heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, it's far from harmless.  "It is a major drug of abuse," he said.  "People ask me what the most dangerous drug is, and I say marijuana.  Other drugs have serious consequences that are easy to recognize.  Marijuana saps people's motivation, their direction.  It's a drug that makes people stupid and lazy.  That's in a way more dangerous."

June 10, 2012 at 09:55 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Meanwhile, the Drug Cartels terrorize more and more innocent people in Mexico. Unrelated?

Yes, the answer is to completely decriminalize the entire production process, allowing governments to set regulations on the entire industry, not just consumption. But without decriminalization of production, you will be acknowledging that the terror will continue.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Jun 10, 2012 11:54:47 PM

So marijuana should be illegal because it makes people stuipid and lazy? I think there are some other prohibitions that we need then. Lets start with television, it clearly contributes to the lazy and stuipid aggregate.

Posted by: krg def attny | Jun 11, 2012 2:14:43 PM

Marijuana makes people stupid and lazy?? What a bunch of BS- That is the thinking of the 1930's movie Reefer Madness. People fighting the marijuana war want you to believe that.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 11, 2012 4:51:20 PM

How do scientists quantify laziness and stupidity? How do they measure sapped motivation and lack of direction? Or is Mr. DuPont just spouting truthiness at us?

Posted by: C.E. | Jun 11, 2012 9:15:46 PM

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