We spend at least $1B a year just to find and jail pot users.... Insane!
Marijuana isn’t a harmless substance, and those who argue for a change in the drug’s legal status do not claim it to be. However, pot’s relative risks to the user and society are arguably fewer than those of alcohol and tobacco, and they do not warrant the expenses associated with targeting, arresting and prosecuting hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.
According to federal statistics, about 94 million Americans — that’s 40 percent of the U.S. population age 12 or older — self-identify as having used cannabis at some point in their lives, and relatively few acknowledge having suffered significant deleterious health effects due to their use. America’s public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals.
Paul Armentano is the senior policy analyst for NORML and the NORML Foundation in Washington, DC.