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Complete Debate on the Possible Outcomes of Legal Weed

Legalization Of Weed

The concept of marijuana legalization has gone in and out of vogue over the past 20 years, as several states, either de jure or de facto, have decriminalized its possession and use. Some describe the cause of decriminalization in the 1970s as a wave of permissive liberalism. This is hardly the case, however.

In the early 1970s, a presidential commission chaired by the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Raymond P. Schafer, called for federal decriminalization and eventual legalization, regulation, and control of marijuana (National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, 1972).

The commission concluded that marijuana should be decriminalized. This was not interpreted as a license to abuse substances. In fact, the Shafer Commission's overriding concern was reducing substance abuse. According to the report, "On the basis of our findings, discussed in previous Chapters, we have concluded that society should seek to discourage use, while concentrating its attention on the prevention and treatment of heavy and very heavy use. The Commission feels that the criminalization of possession of marihuana for personal use is socially self-defeating as a means of achieving this objective" (National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, 1972).

In 1977, Senator Jacob Javits and Representative Edward Koch introduced a bill to federally decriminalize marijuana. Although both congressmen were Democrats, their motivation for this bill had as much to do with the economics of pursuing marijuana users, then estimated at 13 million, as the undesirability of seeking to imprison such a large portion of the national population (Koch, 1977).

Today, government surveys estimate the number of regular marijuana users at about 11.8 million (NIDA, 1988). The cost of pursuing and punishing 11.8 million marijuana users, if that is all there are, would be enormous, both financially and societally.

NORML and others are skeptical of the government's ability to take an accurate survey of any criminal behavior. Such estimates inevitably underreport the actual number of users for several reasons, including agency bias and respondents' fear of disclosure. This will present problems when marijuana is legalized. The number of reported users will appear to skyrocket. The number of users may in fact increase slightly; however, the biggest increase will come from those who failed to report their use while it was illegal. The difference between truly new users and users...

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Category:   Drug Policy

Length:   22 pages (4,998 words)

Views:   6250

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