An expanded version of this essay, calling on the federal government to legalize marijuana in a manner similar to cigarettes and alcohol, is now online on The Hill‘s influential Congress blog.
Because The Hill is widely read by lawmakers and by the national media, it is vital that we demonstrate the popularity of the marijuana legalization issue by commenting prolifically. Please post your feedback to The Hill and make a point of disseminating this essay to your friends and colleagues.
According to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control, fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes than at any time in modern history.
“The number of U.S. adults who smoke has dropped below 20 percent for the first time on record,” Reuters reported. This is less than half the percentage (42 percent) of Americans who smoked cigarettes during the 1960s.
Imagine that; in the past 40 years tens of millions of Americans have voluntarily quit smoking a legal, yet highly addictive intoxicant. Many others have refused to initiate the habit. And they’ve all made this decision without ever once being threatened with criminal prosecution and arrest, imprisonment, probation, and drug testing.
By contrast, during this same period of time, state and local police have arrested some 20 million Americans for pot law violations — primarily for violations no greater than simple possession. And yet marijuana use among the public has skyrocketed.
There’s a lesson to be learned here — if only our lawmakers were willing to listen.