Last week Charles Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Washington, DC think tank The Heritage Foundation, took to the opinion pages of the conservative-leaning DC publication, The Daily Caller, to opine “why we shouldn’t legalize marijuana.”
Stimson’s commentary predictably contained various inaccuracies and outright falsehoods — including the unfounded allegations that marijuana use inspires violence, that the areas around medicinal cannabis clubs have experienced “exponential increases in crime rates,” (A recently published UCLA study and several others eviscerate this claim.) and that the daily consumption of alcohol “has been shown to actually improve health; not so with marijuana … (which) has no known general healthful properties.”
Predictably, Stimson’s comments drew a firestorm of criticism, generating nearly 400 comments on The Daily Caller‘s website. It also drew a harsh rebuke, in the form of a letter to the editor, from NORML Advisory Board Member, Dr. Mitch Earleywine, who responded that Mr. Stimson’s “misstatements and half-truths” lacked any empirical foundation.
To their credit, The Daily Caller on Wednesday also devoted space for NORML to respond directly to Charles Stimson’s pot propaganda via my own op/ed, which I’ve excerpted below.
Regulations, not criminal prohibition, best address concerns regarding cannabis
via The Daily Caller
The views on marijuana legalization expressed in The Daily Caller last week by The Heritage Foundation’s Charles Stimson (“Why we shouldn’t legalize marijuana,” July 19, 2012) are woefully out of step with contemporary science and public opinion.
Americans have grown weary of the federal government’s war on cannabis. Their exasperation is justified. Since 1970, over 21 million U.S. citizens have been cited or arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet despite this vigorous and fiscally taxing criminal enforcement, over 100 million Americans, including the president, acknowledge having consumed cannabis. One in ten admit that they use it regularly. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t dissuaded the general public from consuming cannabis or reduced its availability, especially among young people. But it has damaged the lives and careers of millions of people who were arrested and sanctioned for choosing to ingest a substance that is safer than alcohol or tobacco.
… A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the limited legal use of marijuana by adults would best reduce any risks associated with its use or abuse.
… Need further proof that regulation works? Just look at our contemporary experience with tobacco — a legally marketed but deadly recreational drug. Teen use of cigarettes has recently fallen to its lowest levels in decades. Conversely, young people’s self-reported use of cannabis is rising and has now surpassed the number of teens consuming tobacco. Why the disparate trends? Simple. In short, it’s legalization, regulation and public education — coupled with the enforcement of age restrictions — that most effectively keeps mind-altering substances out of the hands of children.
Despite more than 70 years of federal prohibition and regardless of the fear-mongering of pundits like Charles Stimson, marijuana is here to stay. Let’s acknowledge this reality, cease ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and put forward common-sense regulations governing cannabis’ use and production.
You can read the entire commentary and leave comments by clicking here.