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Pot, Why Not?


            
             Marijuana, often called pot, hemp, reefer, mary jane, or weed, has been prohibited in the USA since 1937, with 11 states decriminalizing it (the maximum punishment was a $100 fine) in the late 60's to early 80's (Eric Wikman, page 1). If the intended goal is to lower or eliminate use, it has failed, just like the other prohibition failed to make America a "dry" country (OSU Research Dept., page 1). Also, detrimental effects such as increased crime, dissension, and distrust among citizens are trends similar to those of the other prohibition. Pot is far less addictive and harmful than its legal counterparts alcohol and tobacco. Also, so much money could be saved by legalizing marijuana that could be used for far more beneficial programs. Finally, marijuana has several medical purposes. Adults over 21 should be able to legally buy, sell, and use marijuana in the USA.
             In support of this, marijuana has been proved many times over to have fewer harmful effects than several legal substances. The US government, while staunchly against drugs in all forms, has given permission to seven people to grow and use marijuana. In California, more permits have been granted. Canada's Special Committee on Illegal Drugs has recommended that marijuana be legalized there (CBC Online News Staff). Says chairman of the committee Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, "Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated as a social and public health issue, rather than a criminal one." At the Center of Addictions and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia, the addictive effects of marijuana have been extensively researched (www.casacolumbia.org). Dr. Jack Henningfield, a scientist there, worked with Dr. Neil Benowits from the University of California on studying this topic. Ranked from most to least addictive, heroin was first, followed by cocaine, and then nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine, which are all legal.


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