www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-marijuan-rodricks-20121113,0,1283209.story

baltimoresun.com

How the public can protest our insane policy on pot

3:45 PM EST, November 13, 2012

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I couldn't agree more with Dan Rodricks' recent column on marijuana policy ("The nonsense of marijuana busts shown," Nov. 11). It should be apparent to all except those with a vested interest in keeping marijuana banned that our entire "war on drugs," and especially the nation's marijuana policy, has utterly failed.

It has failed for the same reason the ban on alcohol failed during Prohibition — there simply is so much demand for marijuana that no amount of tax dollars can stop the supply.

Perhaps we should ask why we allow our government to waste our money fighting something whose negative social impact is far less than that of alcohol.

Yes, the same tired "experts" continue telling us it is a gateway drug, simply because most people who use harder drugs tried pot first. Studies refuting that argument have shown that just as someone who abuses heroin or cocaine is likely to have used alcohol or tobacco first, it was not the alcohol or cigarettes that caused their addiction to harder drugs, it was simply that alcohol and tobacco were readily available.

More than 100 million Americans have tried marijuana, and the vast majority have never moved on to becoming addicted to harder drugs. Yet our government classifies marijuana in the very highest schedule of controlled substances that have no medical use.

By doing so, the government not only rejects the overwhelming medical evidence showing marijuana's benefits for chemotherapy patients; AIDS wasting; those with glaucoma; PTSD and other disorders, it has also convinced young people to distrust the government more generally with respect to drug policy. Why would anyone believe any institution that tells them that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin?

Not only does the government waste precious resources arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating those involved with marijuana, it ruins the lives of millions of our fellow citizens by making them criminals.

Since politicians are always the last to change course due to their fear of being labeled "soft on drugs," the public can do something right now through the process known as jury nullification: If called to serve on a jury, simply refuse to convict anyone charged with marijuana possession.

It may not be the best answer, but at least it is a start toward regaining our collective sanity.

Richard B. Stofberg, Baltimore