On Weed: Dazed and Confused No More
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On Weed: Dazed and Confused No More
Posted by CN Staff on October 20, 2011 at 11:14:41 PT
By Steve Chapman 
Source: Chicago Tribune
Illinois -- Candidates running for president can easily wreck their campaigns with one serious misstep. Back in 1976, one Democrat said he favored getting rid of criminal penalties for marijuana use. Can you imagine how Americans of that primitive era reacted to his blunder? They elected him.Once in office, Jimmy Carter didn't abandon his temperate approach to cannabis. He proposed that the federal government stop treating possession of small amounts as a crime, making a sensible but novel argument: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."
Nothing came of it, of course. Carter's logic was unassailable even 35 years ago, but it has yet to be translated into federal policy. The American experience with prohibition of alcohol proved that we are capable of learning from our mistakes. The experience with prohibition of marijuana proves that we are also capable of doing just the opposite.The stupidity and futility of the federal war on weed, however, has slowly permeated the mass consciousness. This week, the Gallup organization reported that fully 50 percent of Americans now think marijuana should be made legal. This is the first time since Gallup began asking in 1969 that more Americans support legalization than oppose it.The shift has shaped drug policy at the state level. Seventeen states have approved medical use of pot, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and 14 have decriminalized possession of small amounts for personal use  including such staunchly conservative places as Mississippi and Nebraska.Changes in a permissive direction may bring casual use out of the closet, but they don't elicit the disasters that anti-drug zealots fear. In fact, research indicates that decriminalizing cannabis has only a tiny effect on consumption, if any.For that matter, hardly anything has an effect. Over the last 30 years, federal spending to fight drugs has risen seven times over, after inflation. Since 1991, arrests for possession of pot have nearly tripled. But all for naught.As a report last year by the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy noted, more high school students and young adults get high today than 20 years ago. More than 16 million Americans smoke dope at least once a month. Pot is just as available to kids as it ever was, and cheaper than before.If we had gotten results like this after reducing enforcement, the new policy would be blamed. But politicians who support the drug war never consider that their remedies may be aggravating the disease. They follow the customary formula for government programs: If it works, spend more on it, and if it fails, spend more on it.During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama criticized the Bush administration for overriding states on medical marijuana."What I'm not going to be doing," he vowed, "is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."For a while it seemed like he meant it. Early on, the Justice Department said it would not waste resources going after sick people who were using cannabis as allowed by states. But recently, federal prosecutors in California have been mobilizing to shut down the state-approved dispensaries that supply those patients.It's like George W. Bush never left. William Panzer, co-author of the medical marijuana initiative approved by California voters, told The Los Angeles Times, "The Obama administration has been incredibly disappointing on this issue."The effort to combat marijuana has served to punish Americans for using a substance that is far less harmful than legal ones. It has enriched organized crime, while fueling endless slaughter by drug cartels in Mexico. It has prevented clinical research on the therapeutic use of cannabis. Its results run the gamut from pathetic ineffectuality to outright harm.Those facts account for the growing support for legalization, despite ceaseless government propaganda against marijuana. It may seem impossible that cannabis will ever be permitted, regulated and taxed like beer or cigarettes. But when public opinion moves, public policy is bound to follow.In 1930, the author of the constitutional amendment establishing Prohibition said, "There is as much chance of repealing the 18th Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail." Three years later, it was gone.Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board and blogs at: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Steve ChapmanPublished: October 20, 2011Copyright: 2011 Chicago Tribune CompanyWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #4 posted by dongenero on October 21, 2011 at 08:18:56 PT
Steve Chapman - Chi Tribune
Mr. Chapman at Chicago Tribune is a long time supporter of legalization and has written many editorials to that effect over the years. Very reasoned, sensible and thoughtful guy on many issues.
He's one of the good guys.
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Comment #3 posted by Oleg the tumor on October 21, 2011 at 07:41:32 PT:
   The GCW
You got it right. Is there a bias for sanity? 
What a thought! But doesn't it seem that as soon as the dedicated anti-cannabis scribes pick up their crayons, out comes a collective diatribe with so many colors of wrong that the articles end up shaming the rainbow! 
With some variations on the theme, the anti-cannabis reasoning routinely associates Marijuana (in print, anyway) with "the War on Drugs", re-connecting that broken weld between pot and cocaine, heroin, crystal meth and whatever chemical d'jour pops up next. That Cannabis cannot be discussed on its own merits (and to be fair) demerits, reveals the Catch-22 that doctors, patients and voters in general have been subject to since Nixon. The "Gateway Drug" argument (that MJ use for any reason leads to harder drug use) fails on both the evidence and at the philosophical level for two reasons: 
First, because Alcohol and Tobacco are worse for you than Marijuana, with a record to prove it. (A record made possible mind you, only because Alcohol and Tobacco are legal commodities)
Second, not to be overly short, but presumptions follow prejudice. If you pre-judge an issue, then you almost by definition, will presume any number of things to justify your "position".  
We need writers to stick to verifiable facts.
We need to heed the Doctor's call for legalization now!Think for Yourselves while its still legal!Legalize Freedom!
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Comment #2 posted by CropReport on October 21, 2011 at 07:25:20 PT
Maybe GCW
that's because pro-cannabis writers actually believe what they write.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on October 20, 2011 at 11:29:05 PT
Maybe I'm just biased.
It seems pro-cannabis writers are sane and anti-cannabis writers are ignoids.Chapman's piece will help people to quit supporting cannabis prohibition.
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