Kudos to Carl Hiaasen for acknowledging the obvious: It is time to end the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization and regulation.
The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes upon legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. Furthermore, the criminalization of cannabis simply doesn’t work.
Despite more than 70 years of federal prohibition, Americans’ consumption of and demand for cannabis is here to stay. Voters’ passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and Initiative 502 in Washington acknowledges this reality. These measures seek to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and seek to impose new, common-sense regulations governing cannabis’ personal use by adults and licensing its production.
Unlike the federal government, which continues to define cannabis as an illegal commodity that is as equally dangerous as heroin, most voters recognize that pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for limited, licensed production and sale of cannabis to adults — but restricts use among young people — best reduces the risks associated with its use or abuse.
Paul Armentano, deputy director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Washington, DC