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June 6, 2013

Washington Lawyer cover story asks "Marijuana – Will It Ever Be Legal?"

A helpful reader today sent me a copy of the cover story from the June 2013 issue of the Washington Lawyer, which is the official publication of the D.C. Bar.  That cover story is headlined, in full, "Marijuana – Will It Ever Be Legal?; States lead the Charge as Opinions Shifts."   (I cannot yet find this story available freely on-line, but I will try to post a link once it is available.)

For regular readers of this blog or for those who closely follow marijuana reform discussions, there is not a whole lot in the article that is new.  But the article does a fine job summarizing all the significant legal and social developments in this arena over the last year, and it also includes some notable comments from prominent folks who are skeptical about the pace and direction of recent marijuana reforms.  These passages especially caught my attention, in part because I am always looking out for the strongest arguments being made against on-going reform efforts:

[Edward Jurith, a professor at American University Washington College of Law and senior counsel at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, has] concerns about the safety of marijuana use, saying the average potency of marijuana seized and tested by federal authorities between 1998 and 2008 has more than doubled.  "I think what's been lost in a lot of this debate is the health consequences of marijuana.  This is not a safe drug.  Looking at the science, I think there is general consensus that while it may be 'safer' than alcohol or tobacco, that kind of a moral relativity argument doesn't make any sense.  This is a drug that has some serious health ramifications, and I think that needs to be factored into this discussion more seriously than it has up to now," he says.

"If you look at the history of drug control, particularly with cocaine, there was a real belief that it was a safe drug to use.  Half a decade later we wake up with a massive cocaine problem in our country that we're finally getting out of.  I'm not arguing for harsh criminal sanctions, I don't think they have worked particularly well, but I think this requires a much more sophisticated and enlightened approach rather than just making the thing available and let's see what happens," Jurith adds.

While Washington intends to put some of the marijuana tax revenue aside for public health education and treatment, some addiction experts worry that there will not be enough money available to deal with what they think will be the inevitable increase in the number of people needing treatment.

"My opinion and the opinion of many addiction professionals is that it doesn't seem as if states are considering all of the ramifications, in terms of the cost of addiction and the threat to public health, ofthe increase in marijuana addiction," said Denise Perme, manager of the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program.

I find these comments especially interesting because it reveals that even a prominent and long-time warrior in the war on drugs like Edward Jurith is now willing to concede that "there is general consensus that [marijuana] may be 'safer' than alcohol or tobacco." 

June 6, 2013 at 04:36 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I can not agree with calling something a "reform" if it involves smoking, whether tobacco, pot or pine bark.

{music] Cigarette smoking is dangerous, a hazard to you health. Does that mean anything to you? So, legalize marihuana, ooh ooh, ooh. [words to Bob Marley song]

Bob Marley's logic does not make sense. Tobacco will kill you so smoke pot. Go figure.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jun 6, 2013 11:22:53 PM

Actually, all you tobacco smokers out there are much worse off than those who only smoke pot.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jun 6, 2013 11:24:46 PM

Jurith must advocate Draconian measures to ban alcohol and cigarettes or his support for prohibition of marijuana does not make sense.

I accept both alternatives, legalization of marijuana or effective prohibition of alcohol and cigarettes (lashes for the user, summary executions for dealers).

What is unacceptable is the current state of the law. Prohibit mildly addictive substance that causes little damage. Allow and advertise highly addictive substances that cause massive damages. Welcome to the Twilight Zone of the lawyer dumbass, devoid of common sense, made an an idiot by brain damage after passing 1L.

I also support the prohibition of 1L, where intelligent, modern students are indoctrinated into accepting 1) supernatural central doctrines; 2) are taught the most failing, idiotic, lawless, religion based legal system in the world is the best, and 3) accept allegiance to the economic interests of a rent seeking hierarchy of a criminal cult enterprise comes above all others, including nation, family, and even self.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 7, 2013 6:24:18 AM

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