Gov. Martin O'Malley confused drug use with drug addiction when he was confronted recently with the issue of marijuana legalization ("O'Malley opposed to legalizing pot,In opposing legislation, he said he's "seen what drug addiction has done to the people of our state, to the people of our city." Could he have given a more cagey, evasive answer? We know he has federal political ambitions and his open-ended answer proves that. One can use a drug and not be addicted to it.

Evidently, marijuana usage is the gateway to all the problems of our society. Mr. O'Malley doesn't seem to realize that millions of Americans use marijuana already. What he really doesn't understand is that marijuana's illegality has contributed more harmful effects to society than marijuana's legalization ever could. Legalizing marijuana will stop the injustice of ruining our citizens' lives for simple possession of marijuana, a substance substantially safer than alcohol.

We saw last legislative session that the governor will support whatever stance on this issue he believes will help him individually rather than being a brave man of conviction on a progressive issue. At first, he didn't support medical marijuana, then with political cards stacked against him (including Maryland Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein's testimony for a limited medical marijuana bill) he reversed course and supported it. Next, the state senate passed a decriminalization bill, and Mr. O'Malley threatened a veto (which proved unnecessary as House Judiciary Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. refused to even allow a vote on it in committee).

If Mr. O'Malley really cared about the citizens of Baltimore and the state of Maryland, he would be in favor of marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization like Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Del. Heather Mizeur. He would also come out vociferously for the decriminalization of marijuana. Locking people up, denying them jobs, giving them criminal records for the use of marijuana is past the point of absurd. It's high time we stop the madness of the past century and allow our justice system to focus on greater problems.

Christopher Snyder, Abingdon

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