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It's Time To Have Good Debate on Legal Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on May 18, 2009 at 04:20:04 PT
Editorial
Source: Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona -- The one thing we hope that comes out of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in Arizona is a broader discussion on the risks and merits of possibly legalizing marijuana for the general populace. To be clear, we are not advocating for legalized marijuana.However, given the toll the illegal marijuana trade takes on the nation  and Southern Arizona in particular  it's time for a serious discussion on the possible benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana, much like the government does alcohol.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act initiative drive, which was launched last week, is limited in scope. Howard Fischer reported in Friday's Star that the measure, if it makes the 2010 ballot and is approved by voters, would give people who are prescribed marijuana and test positive for the drug at work the anti-discrimination protections available to women and minorities.Medical-marijuana laws are certainly worthwhile.Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders wrote in 2004: "The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS  or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day."Medical-marijuana efforts, however, seem to ignore the elephant in the room  the fact that many people use marijuana recreationally.After all, there wouldn't be an illegal-marijuana trade if it wasn't in such huge demand.In discussing a Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said in 2007 that the federal agency had seized 1.8 million pounds of marijuana over a 12-month period. About half of the marijuana was seized in the Tucson sector.If that was the amount of marijuana seized, one can only wonder how much actually got through.The illegal nature of marijuana also helps fuel the violent narcotics trade that has caused many deaths in Mexico and has partly spilled over to the United States.Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard wrote in a guest opinion for the Star last month that marijuana is the biggest source of revenue for drug cartels, accounting for an estimated 65 percent of their income.Goddard wrote: "Legalizing marijuana could reduce illegal trafficking, but I fear it would create a new set of problems. . . . I also believe that marijuana's well-established role as a gateway drug could lead to increased use of other illegal drugs. The United States must do more to curb our insatiable demand for drugs."Goddard is not in favor of legalizing marijuana, but he said that option should be on the table when discussing how to combat drug trafficking.Last week, former Mexican President Vicente Fox and three other former Latin American leaders called for the decriminalization of marijuana. Fox pointed out that organized crime in the United States dropped after Prohibition, which made alcohol illegal.Legalizing marijuana "must be done in conjunction with the United States, but it is time to open the debate," Fox told CNN. "It can't be that the only way is for the state to use force."About 20 countries have decriminalized the use of marijuana to some degree. The United States might be able to take the best drug policies from those nations and draw upon the lessons of Prohibition to come up with rules that decrease criminal activity and improve safety.One thing is certain: People are using marijuana and will continue to use it whether it's legal or not.So as Arizonans debate medical-marijuana for the next 18 months, let's keep the bigger issue in mind. Legalizing marijuana is worth discussing and debating.Source: Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ)Published: May 18, 2009Copyright: 2009 Arizona Daily StarContact: letters azstarnet.comWebsite: http://www.azstarnet.com/URL: http://drugsense.org/url/gpEuUeJtRelated Article:Group Wants Medical Pot on Ballot in 2010http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread24741.shtmlCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/medical.shtml
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Comment #6 posted by Paint with light on May 18, 2009 at 22:57:33 PT
Ray of light
I guess I should be glad the word legalize is at least being spoken along with serious(I think) proposals for real discussion.I am.Slowly we turned....Step by step.....Legal like alcohol
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Comment #5 posted by Paint with light on May 18, 2009 at 22:48:31 PT
Gateway again...
When I read the phrase,"....well-established role as a gateway drug...", I knew this general guy Goddard was goofy(brainwashed).Well-established in the minds and the lies of the prohibitionists?Yes.Well-established in fact?No.Legal like alcohol, at least.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on May 18, 2009 at 08:03:30 PT
Vincent 
Most of the people I know who are on our side were always Democrats. I don't have any personal Republican or right leaning friends. On line maybe but not personally. I am not that type of person so my friends were always left leaning and liberal in their perception of issues.
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Comment #3 posted by Vincent on May 18, 2009 at 07:57:35 PT:
FoM
Your point is very well taken but, looking beyond statistics, recall your life experiences with friends and aquaintances through the years. Most of the people that you've known or I've known were very liberal-minded about this issue. If there are so many anti-marijuana people out there, where the hell are they hiding? I don't know any (under the age of 70, that is). Nor do I wish to. Sorry, but I don't believe that this country is so brainwashed.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 18, 2009 at 07:34:13 PT
Vincent
The other day I looked at an election map of the USA for red and blue states. When I saw Arizona was red    I knew in my heart this just won't happen. The blue states have a much better chance as long as they are dominated by Democrats. The journey is long and hard so I have become very realistic when I think how an outcome will be anymore.
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Comment #1 posted by Vincent on May 18, 2009 at 07:28:46 PT:
Living in fear
This was an interesting article but, I must point out some things that well, frankly annoy me. The Arizona Daily Star's editorial featured in the first paragraph the usual "disclaimer": "To be clear, we are not advocating for legalized Marijuana". Damn! Why did they do that?The other night there was a debate between William "I never smoked a joint in my life" Bennett, a Conservative, Bible thumping knucklehead and James Carville, a so-called liberal. When the discussion turned to legalization of herb, Bennett stubbornly stuck to his beliefs while Carville, clearly intimidated, comes out with "I don't favor legalization". So cowardly!Oh, I wish I was there. I would've told Bennett about himself. Until we start to speak up and DEMAND our rights, we will never win. C'mon people, don't be afraid! This country is not that Conservative.
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