Legalization of Marijana: For


It's time we put to rest the myth that smoking marijuana is a fringe or
deviant activity, engaged in only by those on the margins of American society.
In reality, marijuana smoking is extremely common, and marijuana is the
recreational drug of choice for millions of mainstream, middle class Americans.
According to the most recent NIDA data1, between 65 and 71 million Americans
have smoked marijuana at some time in their lives, and 10 million are current
smokers (have smoked as at least once in the last month). In fact, NIDA
(National Institute on Drug Abuse) found that 61% of all current illicit drug
users report that marijuana is the only drug they have used; this figure rises
to 80% if hashish (a marijuana derivative) is included. A recent national survey
of voters found that 34% -- one third of the voting adults in the country --
acknowledged having smoked marijuana at some point in their lives(NIDA,1). Many
successful business and professional leaders, including many state and federal
elected officials from both political parties, admit they have smoked marijuana.
We should begin to reflect that reality in our state and federal legislation,
and stop acting as if otherwise law-abiding marijuana smokers are part of the
crime problem. They are not, and it is absurd to continue to spend law
enforcement resources arresting them.

Marijuana smokers in this country are no different from their non-
smoking peers, except for their marijuana use. Like most Americans, they are
responsible citizens who work hard, raise families, contribute to their
communities, and want a safe, crime-free neighborhood in which to live. Because
of our marijuana laws, these citizens face criminal arrest and imprisonment
solely because they choose to smoke a marijuana cigarette when they relax,
instead of drinking alcohol. They simply prefer marijuana over alcohol as their
recreational drug of choice. This is a misapplication of the criminal sanction
which undermines respect for the law in general and extends government into
areas of our private life that are inappropriate.

The NORML (National Orginization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws)
Board of Directors recently issued the following statement entitled Principles
of Responsible Cannabis Use, which defines the conduct which is believe that any
responsible marijuana smoker should follow.

"I. ADULTS ONLY Cannabis consumption is for adults only. It is irresponsible to
provide cannabis to children.

Many things and activities are suitable for young people, but others absolutely
are not. Children do not drive cars, enter into contracts, or marry, and they
must not use drugs. As it is unrealistic to demand lifetime abstinence from
cars, contracts and marriage, however, it is unrealistic to expect lifetime
abstinence from all intoxicants, including alcohol. Rather, our expectation
and hope for young people is that they grow up to be responsible adults. Our
obligation to them is to demonstrate what that means.

II. NO DRIVING The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor
vehicle or other dangerous machinery impaired by cannabis, nor (like other
responsible citizens) impaired by any other substance or condition, including
some medicines and fatigue.

Although cannabis is said by most experts to be safer than alcohol and many
prescription drugs with motorists, responsible cannabis consumers never operate
motor vehicles in an impaired condition. Public safety demands not only that
impaired drivers be taken off the road, but that objective measures of
impairment be developed and used, rather than chemical testing.

III. SET AND SETTING The responsible cannabis user will carefully consider
his/her set and setting, regulating use accordingly.

"Set" refers to the consumer's values, attitudes, experience and personality,
and "setting" means the consumer's physical and social circumstances. The
responsible cannabis consumer will be vigilant as to conditions -- time, place,
mood, etc. --and does not hesitate to say "no" when those conditions are not
conducive to a safe, pleasant and/or productive experience.

IV. RESIST ABUSE Use of cannabis, to the extent that it impairs health, personal
development or achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis
users.

Abuse means harm. Some cannabis
use is harmful; most is not. That which is harmful should be discouraged; that
which is not need not be.

Wars have been waged in the name of eradicating "drug abuse", but instead of
focusing on abuse, enforcement measures have been diluted by targeting all drug
use, whether abusive or not. If marijuana abuse is to be targeted, it is
essential that clear standards be developed to identify it.

V. RESPECT RIGHTS OF OTHERS The responsible cannabis user does not violate the
rights of others, observes accepted standards of courtesy and public propriety,
and respects the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis entirely.

No one may violate the